Azerbaijani Laundromat: UK court orders Azerbaijani politician to forfeit £5.6m

A multimillionaire Azerbaijani politician and his family have been ordered to hand over £5.6m o,” UK’s National Crime Agency informs.

Through the laundromat, money would be moved via a complex network of shell companies that operated bank accounts in Estonia and Latvia, a process known as layering. Some of these transfers were accompanied by documents, including invoices and contracts, purporting to support legitimate and very substantial business transactions.

A judge on Monday ordered that Javanshir Feyziyev and his family forfeit £5.63m held in various bank accounts after ruling the funds “arise from criminal conduct” and “money laundering”.”

The National Crime Agency (NCA) said Feyziyev, a serving member of the Azerbaijan parliament, brought millions of pounds of illicit wealth into the UK via the laundromat.

The money laundering scheme was revealed in 2017 when confidential banking records were leaked to the Danish newspaper Berlingske.

The data showed that the Azerbaijani leadership, accused of serial human rights abuses, systemic corruption and rigging elections, made more than 16,000 covert payments between 2012 and 2014 – worth on average about $3m a day.

The National Crime Agency (NCA), which is investigating the international money laundering ring, had applied to the court to seize £15.3m of suspect funds from the family.

Westminster magistrates court district judge John Zani ruled on Monday that Feyziyev, his wife Parvana Feyziyeva, their son Orkhan, and a nephew, Elman Javanshir, must hand over a total of £5.6m after finding “key elements of money laundering”.

The NCA said the judge agreed there was “overwhelming evidence” that documents the family supplied to support their claims that the funds were generated lawfully were “entirely fictitious and were produced in order to mask the underlying money-laundering activities of those orchestrating the accounts”.

Feyziyev, who lives in a multimillion-pound Grade I-listed John Nash-designed mansion overlooking Regent’s Park in London, is chair of the UK-Azerbaijan all-parliamentary cooperation committee and co-chair of the EU parliament’s equivalent body.

Andy Lewis, head of civil recovery at the NCA, said: “This is a substantial forfeiture of money laundered through the Azerbaijan laundromat, and our success highlights the risk to anyone who uses these schemes.

“We were able to recover these millions without needing to prove the exact nature of the original criminal activity. We will continue to use civil powers to target money entering the UK via illegitimate means.”

Ben Russell, Deputy Director of the National Economic Crime Centre, said: “This case demonstrates the NCA’s commitment to investigating and seizing the proceeds of international corruption and associated money laundering. The UK is hostile to illicit finance, and will use every available tool to tackle it.”

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