Press release 31st May 2020

Family of Former Azeri Security Minister own UK assets worth £50m

Source of funds should be investigated by British authorities


31st May, London - The provenance of funds used to buy more than £50 million worth of UK assets should be probed by British authorities after a joint investigation involving Transparency International UK revealed they are owned by family of Eldar Mahmudov, the former head of Azerbaijan’s national security ministry which was dissolved in 2015 amid reports of widespread abuses of power.

The investigation, published today in the Observer, shows how Mahmudov’s children were able to buy stakes in a range of British businesses - including a high-end Mayfair restaurant - as well as purchasing luxury London property.

Transparency International UK, Finance Uncovered and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project analysed open source information and bank files provided by transparency activists Distributed Denial of Secrets. The documents show Eldar’s son and daughter were behind a complex web of companies which was then used to acquire stakes in businesses and properties across the UK.

Eldar Mahmudov served as national security minister in Azerbaijan for more than a decade until he was dismissed in 2015. The Ministry was later disbanded amid reports alleging extortion and blackmail committed by Mahmudov and other senior officials. A number of these officials were later imprisoned for corruption offences however Mahmudov was not convicted. Mahmudov himself has denied any wrongdoing. His children deny their assets derive from their father’s time as Minister.


Duncan Hames, Director of Policy at Transparency International UK, said:

“This investigation adds to the overwhelming weight of evidence that the UK has become a safe haven for suspicious wealth. The wide range of investments underlines our previous research which shows that suspect funds can touch any part of the UK economy. It is now important that there is full transparency and the source of wealth for these investments is investigated.

“This case also raises broader questions for the UK’s agencies tackling such funds. It is vital that individuals suspected of corruption and their families are given no help in moving and hiding their money here. Those failing to heed clear money laundering red flags should face tougher action from the authorities. Without a credible deterrent to prevent professionals ignoring the rules, Britain will continue to be a destination of choice for the corrupt.”


Anar Mahmudov is married to the daughter of Zamira Hajiyeva and Jahangir Hajiyev, the recipients of the UK’s first unexplained wealth orders. He owns a property bought for more than £17 million in 2013 just a few minutes’ walk from the Hajiyev’s Knightsbridge home which remains frozen by police.

Other purchases by companies controlled by Anar and Nargiz Mahmudov include business centres in Bournemouth and Poole bought for a combined £13.47 million in 2016, shares worth £6.25 million in a Nottingham based oil equipment manufacturer, a minority stake in a hydrogen energy tech start-up and a rubber dinghy company.

The true ownership of these assets is obscured by a network of companies spanning from St Kitts and Nevis to the Isle of Man, ending in UK registered businesses which appear to be administered by nominees.

These purchases were made possible by a network of professionals offering legal advice as well as banking, accountancy and property acquisition services.  Officials at Cayman National Bank alerted Isle of Man authorities to their suspicions about the source of Anar and Nagiz’s wealth.

A representative for Anar Mahmudov said that he and his sister are “beneficiaries of inherited wealth accumulated by their family over very many years, which can be traced back to their entrepreneurial ancestor Aslan Ashurov in the 19th Century.” The representative also said that Mahmudov’s assets and business interests are properly registered and declared in accordance with legal and regulatory requirements.

Transparency International UK does not allege that Anar Mahmudov’s wealth constitutes the proceeds of crime or that he is guilty of any wrongdoing in relation to his various assets or transactions.


Notes to editors: 

  • Information on the dismissal of Eldar Mahmudov and the circumstances surrounding the dissolution of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Security can be found here, here and here.


  • Transparency International UK analysed over 400 corruption cases spanning 116 countries amounting to economic damage in excess of £325 billion. We identified almost 600 firms and institutions offering services – often unwittingly – to corrupt individuals. The findings can be found here.