Israel Aerospace Industries paid $155 million to two companies linked to Azerbaijan money laundering

Israel’s largest aerospace and aviation manufacturer transferred at least $155 million to two companies that were reportedly used as a secret slush fund for Azerbaijan’s kleptocratic elite, according to bank documents included in a massive new leak of US financial material, the Times of Israel reports.

The bank documents relating to Israel’s state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) consist of more than a dozen suspicious activity reports (or SARs) filed by Deutsche Bank with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network of the United States Department of the Treasury (FinCEN) in the years 2012-2014.

They became public this weekend as part of a leak of FinCEN documents that the BuzzFeed news site shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and with 108 other media outlets and some some 400 journalists around the world.

It is not clear why the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries paid money to the two companies, Blau and Shomrim reported on Sunday, but the payments aroused the suspicions of Deutsche Bank officials charged with monitoring transactions they suspected may have been linked to money laundering or terror financing.

The Deutsche Bank reports describe two companies — Jetfield Networks and Larkstone Ltd. — as recipients of the $155 million in IAI payments.

Jetfield Networks was founded in New Zealand in 2009 and became incorporated in the Marshall Islands in February 2012. It originally described itself as engaged in commerce, including the buying and selling of construction equipment, but later branched out into “consulting services.”

The company’s beneficiary, Blau and Shomrim reported, is Javid Huseynov, an Azeri man born in 1961. Huseynov is also the beneficiary of Larkstone Ltd., a company incorporated in Estonia, according to Blau and Shomrim.

At the same time as its incorporation in the Marshall Islands, Israeli and international media reported the signing of a $1.4 billion contract between IAI and the Azerbaijani government. The two countries have had a close but discreet relationship, Shomrim reported, with Israel buying oil from Azerbaijan and the Azeris purchasing arms and agricultural equipment from Israel.

Shomrim’s investigation revealed that IAI transferred the funds shortly after the signing of its massive 2012 deal with the Azerbaijani government. A source familiar with the deal told Shomrim that to the best of his knowledge, it did not include an agreement regarding payment to any intermediary.

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