Azerbaijan leaders snarled in massive money-laundering claims

European PEPs and others received payouts, according to reports

The Central Asian nation of Azerbaijan is the site of the latest large-scale “Laundromat,” according to allegations in a scathing report by the Global Anti-Corruption Consortium.

The report, which was also covered by the Wall Street Journal, details allegations that oil-rich Azerbaijani government officials between the years of 2012-2014 operated a massive slush fund to bribe European politicians, surround themselves with luxury goods, and engage in various other corrupt payouts. Evidence of vast corruption first emerged when a Danish newspaper received leaked documents showing nearly $3 billion in suspicious transactions.

Consortium-sponsored investigative journalism networks dug in to the story and have published a trove of details about the alleged laundering operation and the recipients of the various payouts, some of which were to curry silence or vocal support for the country’s rulers even as they jailed and harassed journalists, political opponents, and activists.

The primary shell companies used to launder the funds were located in the United Kingdom and escaped scrutiny there. According to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project report, these shell companies were easily able to file “registration paperwork that listed proxy or non-existent shareholders and disguise their true origins.”

Investigators believe the money came from various sources, including the family of President Ilham Aliyev. Other sources include regime leaders, a Russian-state-owned arms exporter, and others associated with the vast “Russian Laundromat” scandal.

The fallout from the still-developing scandal has landed on members of the Council of Europe, of which Azerbaijan has been a member since 2001. The ongoing investigations show that some members of the highly regarded council received major payments allegedly for turning a blind eye to Azerbaijani human rights abuses or election rigging.


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