Politics 10:58 04/04/2016 World

Panama Papers: Ilham Aliyev from Azerbaijan in the spotlight of a global corruption scandal

A huge leak of confidential documents under the name of "The Panama Papers" has revealed the use of offshore companies by politicians and their relatives, unveiling their involvement in many different tax havens.

The yearlong investigation and the interactive produced by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) explores the stories behind thousands of emails, documents and images revealing names of public interest.

It has found links to dozens of current or former heads of state, other politicians and public officials with direct connections to structures in tax havens and mechanisms of money laundry, tax evasion and avoiding sanctions.

According to ICIJ website, their names appeared inside a cache of 11.5 million leaked files from Panama's Mossack Fonseca, one of the biggest offshore service providers.

The names displayed in an interactive represent a selection of the most relevant cases, the organization says. 

As in other previous massive leaks, Azerbaijani President Ilyam Aliyev has found its place in the list with separate interactive for each member of his family. 

The ICIJ gives a brief introductory about Alyev, saying: “The family of Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev leads a charmed, glamorous life, thanks in part to financial interests in almost every sector of the economy. His wife, Mehriban, comes from the privileged and powerful Pashayev family that owns banks, insurance and construction companies, a television station and a line of cosmetics. She has led the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, Azerbaijan’s pre-eminent charity behind the construction of schools, hospitals and the country’s major sports complex. Their eldest daughter, Leyla, editor of Baku magazine, and her sister, Arzu, have financial stakes in a firm that won rights to mine for gold in the western village of Chovdar and Azerfon, the country’s largest mobile phone business. Arzu is also a significant shareholder in SW Holding, which controls nearly every operation related to Azerbaijan Airlines ("Azal"), from meals to airport taxis. Both sisters and brother Heydar own property in Dubai valued at roughly $75 million in 2010; Heydar is the legal owner of nine luxury mansions in Dubai purchased for some $44 million. The president’s sister, Sevil Aliyeva, a longtime London resident, founded Space TV, a news and entertainment channel in Azerbaijan.

Investigative journalists then present Mossack Fonseca data regarding Mr. Aliyev and his family members, saying that the leaked documents show that in 2005, President Aliyev's wife, Mehriban Aliyeva, was named as one of two managers of the Panamanian UF Universe Foundation, incorporated in 2003. Under a complex proposal submitted to Mossack Fonseca in 2005, UF Universe Foundation would have ultimate control of AtaHolding, a major Azeri conglomerate. The 2005 proposal named President Aliyev's three children in addition to other senior members of Azerbaijan's tax office as beneficiaries. Two secretive companies central to this proposal were established through Mossack Fonseca although it is unclear whether or not the proposal was ever adopted. The UF Universe Foundation was inactivated in January 2007, but in January 2014, its representative asked Mossack Fonseca to reactivate it. Furthermore, the data show that Aliyev's daughters controlled a Panama-incorporated company and two others in the British Virgin Islands. The Panamanian company held a significant stake in a consortium of companies exploring goldfields in Azerbaijan.

Aliyev's sister turned to be the sole shareholder and owner of a BVI company registered in December 2005. Registration records list her at an address in a West London neighborhood where average home prices touch $9 million, say the leaked documents.

Investigative journalists inform that the Aliyev family did not respond to repeated requests for providing comments

Samples of scanned email correspondence about the establishment of the above mentioned companies and other relevant documentation are attached to the page as well as an interactive map, which depicts the company-owner, service-client relations for each family member of Mr. Aliyev.



Source Panorama.am
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