The Azerbaijani Laundromat is a complex money-laundering operation and slush fund that handled $2.9 billion over a two-year period through four shell companies registered in the UK.
The scheme was uncovered through a joint investigation by Berlingske (Denmark), OCCRP, The Guardian (UK), Süddeutsche Zeitung (Germany), Le Monde (France), Tages-Anzeiger and Tribune de Genève (Switzerland), De Tijd (Belgium), Novaya Gazeta (Russia), Dossier (Austria), Atlatszo.hu(Hungary), Delo (Slovenia), RISE Project (Romania), Bivol (Bulgaria), Aripaev (Estonia), Czech Center for Investigative Journalism (Czech Republic), and Barron’s (US).
This project is part of the Global Anti-Corruption Consortium, a collaboration started by OCCRP and Transparency International.
Un article complaisant sur l’Azerbaidjan d’Alain Destexhe ! :
Comment l’Europe pourrait se protéger de tels scandales ? (Transparency International)
The Guardian is this morning reporting on another money laundering scandal – nicknamed by the newspaper as the ‘Azerbaijani Laundromat’, following a similar scandal earlier this year known as the Global Laundromat scandal.
The Guardian received leaked data which revealed how a network of opaque UK companies were used in order to launder money between 2012 and 2014. Some of the laundered money is said to have ended up in the hands of European politicians – at a time when Azerbaijan was being criticised for human right abuses.
The entities at the heart of the scandal involved (among others) Scottish Limited Partnerships (SLPs), which were not required to maintain beneficial ownership information at the UK Companies House. The UK government has in June finally taken steps in order to require such SLPs to disclose their ownership and control information, you can find the announcement here. However, a review of the disclosures made to date by SLPs show that the majority (more than half) have filed statements « that they did not know who controlled the company or were taking steps to find out » (see more details on SLPs in this Guardian article here).
The scandal is, however, another timely reminder of why the EU must establish public registers of beneficial ownership. As you know, the EU is currently still negotiating on establishing such registers, with trilogue negotiations proceeding during the second half of this year on the anti-money laundering directive and the need to establish public BO for registers for both companies and trusts.
You can find more details on the story in this news article here:
This article in particular explains how the scheme operated in detail: