Politicians and businesses paid to launder Azerbaijan’s image using slush fund must be sanctioned

Transparency International to campaign for accountability and action in Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany and United Kingdom

Issued by Transparency International Secretariat



Transparency International, the global anti-corruption organisation, is calling for politicians, banks and businesses that helped to launder the reputation of Azerbaijan across Europe to be investigated and, if appropriate, for the perpetrators to be sanctioned.

The anti-corruption organisation will launch national and international advocacy campaigns targeted at strengthening anti-money laundering practices, identifying individual wrong-doing and calling for international organisations, including the Council of Europe, to investigate allegations of inappropriate behaviour and take corrective action.

This follows carried out by journalists in six countries (Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, United Kingdom and United States) into a shady financial network that appears to have funnelled money from a US$2.9 billion Azeri slush fund to pay decision-makers and prominent individuals across Europe.

“It is shocking to see that some politicians at respected bodies like the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe are up for sale and are willing to turn a blind eye to corruption and human rights abuses for cash. They must be sanctioned and we will put pressure on the authorities to take action. The story does not end here,” said José Ugaz, Chair of Transparency International.

The investigation names, Danske Bank, a prominent bank in Denmark and specifically its branch in Estonia as the centre of the financial network. It also identifies four shell companies set up in the UK with secret offshore owners that received money from the slush fund. In addition, individuals and businesses are reported to have received payments from these companies in Germany and the UK.

The reports describe how politicians and consultants who received the money were in a position to influence decisions about Azerbaijan’s human rights record at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). The purpose of the payments appears to have been to limit the effects of damaging information regarding human rights and election fraud that would have brought the country into greater disrepute.

“These investigations show that even in countries where corruption risks are considered low like Denmark, which ranks at the top of Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, the regulatory bodies are still behind in enforce anti-money laundering legislation,” added Ugaz.

Transparency International, as part of a partnership with the  that broke the story, will pressure the appropriate authorities to ensure that any wrongdoing is both investigated and punished, and that regulatory loopholes are closed.

As first steps, Transparency International will:

The slush fund also supported the lavish lifestyles of the ruling family of Azerbaijan and a crony network of accomplices, including business leaders and politicians both in Germany and elsewhere. The investigations uncovered that the money was used to buy a football club, jewellery and major real estate in the Czech Republic.

Transparency International will also:

Note to editors: The investigation and the follow-up advocacy are part of The Global Anti-Corruption Consortium (GACC), a new initiative that links journalists and activists. For more information on the project click here.

The Council of Europe is the leading forum in Europe tasked with monitoring human rights, democracy and the rule of law in its 47 member states.


For any press enquiries please contact

Natalie Baharav
T: +49 30 34 38 20 666
E: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Solicitude

Support Transparency International

Is Hungary’s assault on the rule of law fuelling corruption?

In June 2018, Hungary’s parliament passed a series of laws that criminalise any individual or group that offers help to an illegal immigrant. The laws continued worrying trends in the public arena that began with the rise to power of the Fidesz party in 2010. What are these trends, and what do they mean for the fight against corruption and the rule of law in Hungary?

Will the G20 deliver on anti-corruption in 2018?

This week, activists from civil society organisations all over the world gathered in Buenos Aires, Argentina for the sixth annual Civil 20 (C20) summit.

Returning Nigerians’ stolen millions

The stakes are high in the planned distribution of $322 million in stolen Nigerian public money.

Three priorities at the Open Government Partnership summit

Transparency International has been at the Open Government Partnership's global summit in Tbilisi, Georgia, pushing for action in three key areas.

Civil society’s crucial role in sustainable development

Key players in the development community are meeting in New York for the main United Nations conference on sustainable development, the High-Level Political Forum (HLPF). Transparency International is there to highlight how corruption obstructs development and report on how effectively countries are tackling this issue.

Comment gagner la lutte contre la corruption en Afrique

Aujourd’hui est la Journée africaine de lutte contre la corruption – une occasion opportunité pour reconnaitre le progrès dans la lutte contre la corruption en Afrique et le travail significatif qui reste encore à accomplir.

How to win the fight against corruption in Africa

African Anti-Corruption Day is an important opportunity to recognise both the progress made in the fight against corruption in Africa and the significant work still left to do.

Why rather

Follow us on Why rather