Azeri ruling families linked to secret investments via Maltese bank
Azerbaijan’s ruling families are the alleged beneficiaries of dozens of anonymously owned companies that have been used to invest in property, hotels and businesses in Europe, according to an investigation by the Daphne Project.
Over the past three years, several networks of companies appear to have used a private bank in Malta for secret investments in the UK, Spain, France, Georgia and Montenegro, research by the project found.
Many of the companies were allegedly operated for the benefit of the children of Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijan’s president, and the sons of his minister for emergency situations, Kamaladdin Heydarov, according to three sources with knowledge of the transactions.Their claims are supported by information in the public domain, and a leak from Dubai residency records.Aliyev’s daughters, Leyla and Arzu Aliyeva, did not respond to a request for comment.
Lawyers for Heydarov’s sons, Nijat and Tale, said: “Our clients are the beneficial owners of companies … which have entirely legitimate and lawful business.”
Although there is no suggestion of wrongdoing, the disclosures are likely to raise new questions for Azerbaijan’s ruling elites, who have been widely criticised for a lack of transparency since Aliyev took power in 2003.
The information appears to show for the first time that the president’s daughters own a half share in Gilan Holding, one of Azerbaijan’s largest businesses, with interests in banking, construction, tourism, agriculture and Gabala football club.