The United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency (NCA) is looking to seize 15 million pounds (US$20.5 million) in bank accounts that belong to the wife, son, and nephew of Javanshir Feyziyev, an influential Azerbaijani politician, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Center (OCCRP) informs.
The agency believes the money had been laundered through a vast money transfer system uncovered in 2017 by OCCRP.
Neither Feyziyev nor the members of his family are being charged with any crime. But in a civil proceeding on Monday, a lawyer for the NCA presented a detailed analysis to bolster the agency’s argument that the money had flowed through the Azerbaijani Laundromat.
The agency argued that the source of the funds “must have been unlawful” because they had been spirited out of Azerbaijan through several shell companies using fraudulent documents to disguise their origins.
“Corruption, theft, fraud and money laundering are the likely explanation,” the NCA argued.
According to OCCRP, Feyziyev is a member of parliament and is considered an associate of Azerbaijan’s authoritarian president, Ilham Aliyev. He has been instrumental in the country’s efforts to lobby the European Union.
Of the 15 million pounds, 7.86 million are held by Feyziyev’s wife Parvana Feyziyeva and 6.4 million by his son Orkhan Javanshir. The two had invested a portion of this money into the United Kingdom’s investment visa program to secure the ability to live in the country.
A smaller portion of the total, just over a million pounds, is held by Feyziyev’s nephew Elman Javanshir.
But the case is centered around Feyziyev himself, the NCA said, “because the funds that are sought to be forfeited largely came from bank accounts under his control.”
In a statement sent to media outlets, a spokesperson for the Feyziyev family said that they “categorically refute the NCA’s case,” describing it as “fundamentally flawed.” The agency has provided “no substantive evidence that the funds in question derive from any source that involved a criminal offence,” the spokesperson said, adding that “the family have complete faith in the British justice system and look forward to the NCA’s application being exposed as meritless.”
In its case, the NCA makes multiple references to OCCRP’s previous reporting about Feyziyev. The 2017 investigation reported that two companies that use the same name as a major Azerbaijani pharmaceutical company founded by Feyziyev had received $138 million from the Azerbaijani Laundromat.
The story was the subject of a libel claim by Feyziyev, which was settled on agreed terms. Feyziyev categorically denies involvement in money laundering or any unlawful activity.