According to the CIA.GOV, the country of Azerbaijan obtained their independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. However, the country has been battling with Armenia since.
The CIA website says that corruption in Azerbaijan is widespread, and the government has been accused of authoritarianism. The poverty level has been reduced due to revenue from oil and gas production. But their weaknesses in most government institutions, particularly in the education and health sectors, as well as the court system.
In a new report, theguardian has released a scathing journalistic report saying that “Azerbaijan’s ruling elite operated a secret $2.9 billion scheme to pay prominent Europeans, buy luxury goods and launder money through a network of opaque British companies.”
The Guardian reports that “leaked data” shows “that the Azerbaijani leadership, accused of serial human rights abuses, systemic corruption and rigging elections, made more than 16,000 covert payments from 2012 to 2014.”
Some of this money went to politicians and journalists, as part of an international lobbying operation. The money was moved under the radar screen of regulators. “There is no suggestion that all the recipients were aware of the original source of the money. It arrived via a disguised route,” the paper added.
In Britain, millions of dollars were spent on “luxury goods and private school fees.” The lengthy article says that some money transfers to the UK concerned education. In 2014 £89,800 was transferred to Queen Ethelburga’s Collegiate, a private boarding school in York. The school would not identify the pupil or pupils involved or comment, the Guardian article stated.
Indeed, most of the investors or beneficiaries in the alleged scheme have denied wrongdoing of any type.
In 2012 the Trump Organization signed a deal to build a 33-floor, 130-metre-high “ultra-modern” skyscraper. In October 2014 Ivanka Trump toured Trump Tower Baku, posting photos of the unfinished building on her Instagram account. The hotel never opened.
OUR FREE OPINION
Business people need to do due diligence with their partners in investment adventures. There apparently was never any blowback on the Trump organization for their dealings with officials from Azerbaijan. But if the Guardian article is true, there were plenty of red flags waving about.
The New Yorker published an article that was critical of the Trump Tower Baku development plan. The writer noted that “The Azerbaijanis behind the project were close relatives of Ziya Mammadov, the transportation Minister and one of the country’s wealthiest and most powerful oligarchs.”
We have criticized the Clinton Foundation for accepting donations from corrupt and despotic leaders in the past. We are mindful that Trump was not a political leader in 2012, and Clinton is a former President, and his wife was the Secretary of State. Nevertheless, we would hope that U.S. investors would do due diligence on their business partners and investors.