Suisse Secrets: Sons of Azerbaijani strongman Vasif Talibov received millions from money laundering systems

Having opened bank accounts with Credit Suisse, Barclays, and other foreign banks, Rza and Seymur Talibov received over $20 million in suspicious wire transfers, even as the people of the Azerbaijani exclave of Nakhchivan suffered under their father’s dictatorial rule according. Suisse secrets – a global investigation into leaked banking data from the Swiss bank Credit Suisse.

Suisse Secrets is a collaborative journalism project based on leaked bank account data from Swiss banking giant Credit Suisse.

The data was provided by an anonymous source to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which shared it with OCCRP and 46 other media partners around the world.

In late 2007 19-year-old Seymur had $40,000 transferred to his personal bank account on December 27. On the same day, his 25-year-old brother Rza got $95,000 of his own. As an explanation, both transactions listed simply the word “textile,”

Within months, Seymur and Rza both started to receive more cash, in much larger bank transfers — up to $500,000 at a time, often in implausibly round figures. The listed reasons for the transfers expanded to include “metal,” “metal parts,” and “electrical equipment.” By the end of 2012, they had received over $20 million in total.

Now, through an analysis of several leaks of banking data and property records, OCCRP can show that the Talibov family enriched itself from questionable sources even as Nakhchivan’s people suffered.

Leaked banking records show that the millions Talibov’s sons received came from shell companies. The data obtained by reporters doesn’t show what the Talibovs did with the money they received. But soon after the transactions began, they started spending.

In 2008, the elder Talibov brother, Rza, his mother, a cousin, and several businessmen founded a bank together.

Four years later, just as the Laundromat transactions reached their peak, Rza bought two adjacent buildings in the Georgian resort town of Batumi that he converted into a five-star hotel. Rza, Seymur, and their sister Baharkhanim — who also received nearly a million dollars from Laundromat companies — have also acquired about a dozen properties in Dubai, including a luxurious villa, a 12-floor apartment hotel, and multiple individual apartments. In total, their properties are worth an estimated $63 million.

This is despite Vasif Talibov’s official salary of less than $26,000 per year and his sons’ own low-paying government jobs. 

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