US Lobbying Firm Launders Azerbaijan’s Reputation — And Gets ‘Laundromat’ Cash

This article was originally published by OCCRP

Some of the money that passed through the Azerbaijani Laundromat, a secret money laundering scheme and slush fund that saw €2.5 billion (US$ 2.9 billion) flow out of the country between 2012 and 2014, ended up in the hands of a purportedly private Azerbaijani organization that hired a Virginia firm to lobby the US government for more than a decade.

The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) has earlier reported that other monies from the fund were used to advance the Azerbaijani government’s political agenda, with some ending up in bank accounts belonging to European politicians who spoke highly of President Ilham Aliyev’s regime even as it arrested journalists and political activists. The precise origins of the funds are unknown, hidden behind secretive shell companies. But there is ample evidence that the authoritarian country’s ruling elite is behind them.

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«Others will continue this fight»

One year after the arrest of Afgan Mukhtarli

“Mum, you said that daddy went very far away. We have also gone very far away now. Why can’t we see him now? I want to see my daddy!”

These are the words of Afgan Mukhtarli’s 4-year old daughter Nuray. She and her mother are currently living in Germany. Until Mukhtarli’s abduction last year, the family had been residing in Georgia.

One year ago, on 29 May 2017, the investigative journalist disappeared from the streets of Tbilisi and resurfaced the next day in custody in Azerbaijan. A statement issued by authorities said a criminal case would be launched against him because he had illegally crossed the border, assaulted a border official and smuggled 10,000 euro into the country.

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