Press release 29th Jun 2021

Couple in latest 'dirty money' case named as anonymity order lifted

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INVESTIGATION HIGHLIGHTS USE OF UK SHELL COMPANIES IN MOVING SUSPICIOUS WEALTH

 

June 29, 2021 - A court has today revealed the identities of two Azeri nationals accused of funnelling almost £14million in unexplained wealth into their British bank accounts.

Izzat Khanim Javadova, a cousin of Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev, and her husband, Suleyman Javadov, are alleged in unexplained wealth and confiscation proceedings to have received millions of pounds from companies linked to the ‘Azerbaijani Laundromat’ – an industrial-scale money laundering operation and slush fund used by the Azeri political elite to move £2.2 billion out of the country.

The couple have been challenging a series of account forfeiture orders from the National Crime Agency (NCA). Their identities had been protected by a court anonymity order which was lifted today.

The NCA had previously frozen the couple’s UK bank accounts and is now applying to the court to seize a total of £6.4million. The NCA suspects the money is the proceeds of corruption, theft or embezzlement. The couple say the funds are legitimate rental income from their properties in Azerbaijan. The case continues with a full trial of the issues expected in July.

 

Ben Cowdock, Investigations Lead at Transparency International UK, said:

“We welcome the lifting of reporting restrictions for this important case, where the respondent has yet to account for the source of more than £6million sitting in their British bank accounts. Showing action is being taken against suspicious wealth can help provide a deterrent against others looking to use the UK as a safe haven for ill-gotten gains. Were UK law enforcement more adequately resourced, we would see far more of these cases and it would provide a much stronger message that the UK is no longer a safe hiding place for funds of dubious origins.

“This case examines the role played by British shell companies in moving alleged suspicious wealth out of the former Soviet Union, which we’ve seen in many other cases on an industrial scale. After years of scandals the UK Government has finally recognised what’s happening, but is moving too slowly and timidly to stamp out this activity. Failure to reform Companies House and clamp down on rogue enablers will leave Global Britain open to exploitation by oligarchs, organised crime gangs and autocrats.”

 

At least six of the 21 entities from which the Javadovs are alleged to have received their money were part of the Azerbaijani Laundromat, a scheme that funnelled £2.2 billion out of the country between 2012 and 2014. Some of this total is believed to have been stolen from the International Bank of Azerbaijan.

Once moved to the West, the NCA’s case is that the cash was then used to pay lobbyists to burnish the regime’s reputation and bankroll luxury lifestyles for those with links to the Azeri political elite.

Four UK-registered companies were at the centre of the Laundromat and key to its success. The Government has previously outlined changes seeking to address many of the weaknesses which currently leave Britain’s company registration system vulnerable to abuse for financial crime, however these much-needed reforms are already long overdue.