British MPs demand probe into Azerbaijani money laundering scheme, Aliyev blames Armenians again
Opposition politicians of the United Kingdom urged Prime Minister Theresa May to launch an investigation into the Azerbaijani money laundering case and the involvement of British companies in the matter, the Guardian reports.
STEPANAKERT, SEPTEMBER 6, ARTSAKHPRESS: In response to the opposition’s demand, May’s spokesperson said the national crime agency will look into the published materials. “The agency will examine whether or not there is a need for an investigation”, the spokesperson said.
Tim Farron, the former Liberal Democrat leader, led calls for an inquiry, saying this was what happened “when the corporate landscape is too lightly regulated”.
“Thanks to the Guardian investigation we learn of something called the Azerbaijani Laundromat,” he said. “But now is the time to wash some fairly dirty laundry in public and find out exactly who paid money to whom and why.
“We need a full investigation to see that dirty money has not been used to buy influence in the UK. The Azerbaijani government is guilty of systematic human rights abuses and it would appear the regime has been making payments on an industrial scale.”
Lawmaker Margaret Hodge said: “Until we know who owns companies and properties in Britain and in the tax havens we control, such unacceptable practices will continue and Britain will be culpable because of the government’s failure to act.”
Peter Dowd, Labour’s chief secretary to the Treasury, said: “Money laundering hurts our economy, steals from others and corrupts our society. The financial system should effectively and efficiently provide investment that benefits the whole economy, not boost the offshore bank balances of plutocrats and criminals here and abroad”.
One London-based beneficiary of the Laundromat, Jovdat Guliyev, resigned on Monday from the Anglo-Azerbaijani Society. Guliyev received nearly £400,000 from the scheme. A former British Petroleum employee, he works for Azerbaijan’s state oil company. The society’s co-chair, Lord German, said Guliyev quit nine minutes after the Guardian’s story went online.
It is noteworthy that Baku has responded very loudly to this yet another accusation of illicit operations of the Aliyev family. Azerbaijan directly accused the Guardian, and the Armenian Diaspora.
Ali Hasanov, the Azeri president’s aide, said that the Aliyev regime “has become a victim of the smear campaign of the British intelligence, the Armenian Diaspora and the US”.
“When has The Guardian written the truth about Azerbaijan? This newspaper is known for its anti-Azerbaijani nature for many years”, Hasanov said.
Moreover, the Azeri president’s press office blamed George Soros and Armenian lobbyists for the revelations.
“The fact that one of the authors of the article is Armenian Dina Nahapetyan, proves that the Armenian lobby stands behind these accusations”, the Azeri officials said.
Immediately after the revelations, Azerbaijani authorities blocked access to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project website. It was this very project that published details of the so-called Azerbaijani Laundromat scheme.
The money was allegedly channelled through four UK-based opaque companies.
People said to have been paid include European politicians who adopted a favourable attitude to the government.
There is no suggestion that all the recipients were aware of the original source of the money, it added.
The secret fund, nicknamed the Azerbaijan Laundromat, operated for two years until 2014, according to the investigation, carried out by a consortium of European newspapers and published by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).
The origin of the money was unclear, the report said, but there was "ample evidence of its connection to the family of President Ilham Aliyev".
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