Javad Marandi: Tory donor named in UK’s Azerbaijani Laundromat probe

Conservative Party donor Javad Marandi was revealed today as a key figure linked to a major money laundering operation targeted by the National Crime Agency, the Evening Standard reports.

A court ruling said that bank records showed that Javad Marandi, who has been on a Conservative advisory board of ultra-wealthy supporters, either owned or was connected to companies involved in a “criminal enterprise” moving vast sums of illicit funds around the world.

The judgment states that he received $49 million directly from the bank account of one of the companies used “to launder the proceeds of crime” as part of the scheme – known as the “Azerbaijani laundromat” – and that one of the companies owned by Mr Marandi received a further $107 million from the same account.

It also shows that Mr Marandi was a conduit for dirty money channeled to an oligarch’s son in London.

Mr Marandi, who is one of London’s most successful tycoons and has a home on Belgravia’s Eaton Square, has strongly denied any wrongdoing and had managed to keep his connection to the money laundering case secret through an anonymity order imposed by a court in 2021.

He had claimed that revealing his name would inflict “catastrophic” damage on him and his businesses, which in this country also include the Emilia Wickstead fashion brand and the Wed2B wedding outfit retailer.

Mr Marandi, 55, is also the landlord of the celebrity favored Soho Farmhouse in Oxfordshire and the long-term holder of the McDonalds fast-food franchise in Azerbaijan. His other overseas businesses include a five-star hotel in Brussels. He also has a charitable foundation that supports The Royal Foundation charity set up by the Prince and Princess of Wales and other organizations ranging from St Paul’s School to Centrepoint.

He was also a managing partner in Pasha Construction, a vast real estate developer in Azerbaijan that belongs to the ruling Aliyev family.

The Azerbaijani Laundromat was a system of interconnected offshore companies that transmitted money using fraudulent transactions to disguise where it came from. For that reason, it is usually impossible to determine the origin of the billions of dollars that flowed through it. But after obtaining banking records from Estonia, journalists were able to piece together where some of the funds ended up. Among the beneficiaries were prominent members of Azerbaijan’s ruling elite, including members and associates of the Aliyev family.

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