Washington, D.C. - A trove of financial records called the Pandora Papers recently released to the public by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) revealed the extent of Azerbaijan's Aliyev regime's corruption and exposes the depth of involvement by his family and close associates, reported the Armenian Assembly of America (Assembly). The Pandora Papers, now referred as the biggest leak of offshore data highlighting the financial secrets of political leaders, is the result of the painstaking and meticulous work of the ICIJ, OCCRP, 150 media outlets, and over 600 journalists worldwide who pored over nearly 12 million documents throughout two years in order to uncover the hidden wealth, tax avoidance, and money laundering schemes used by ruling authorities to hide in offshore accounts. "We commend and thank the investigative journalists who have been bringing the corruption of the Aliyev regime to light. The prior Congressional Ethics investigation into the activities of Azerbaijan and Turkey in the United States highlighted the dangers of this type of corruption, and only scratched the surface of the Erdogan and Aliyev threats to democracy," said Assembly Co-Chairs Van Krikorian and Anthony Barsamian. "The autocratic Aliyev has spent billions of dollars around the world trying to whitewash Azerbaijan’s genocidal actions, influence journalists, academics, businesses and politicians, all the while he and his family spent hundreds of millions of dollars on lavish properties for their own personal gain." "It is therefore all the more outrageous that Azerbaijan received over $100 million in U.S. military assistance during the prior administration, which it used against the Armenian people in the war Azerbaijan launched last Fall," the Co-Chairs added. "Congress and the Administration must fully enforce Section 907 of the Freedom Act and stop rewarding a corrupt, war-mongering, dictatorial regime." In particular, the documents reveal Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev and his family have been systematically robbing their own country's wealth since Aliyev's first term in office in 2003, and that they have over the years acquired approximately $700 million worth of real estate in the United Kingdom alone, in addition to registering scores of offshore companies and running a $2.9 billion money laundering scheme, known as the Azerbaijani Laundromat. It was also specified that the Crown Estate, which owns and manages property on behalf of the Queen of England, bought a £66.5 million ($91 million) property from the Aliyev family in 2018, in which they made a £31 million ($42 million) profit. The OCCRP reported: "Aliyev’s two daughters, his son, his father-in-law [Arif Pashayev], and two of the family’s close business associates have held, at their peak, a staggering £429 million ($694 million) in London real estate — including prominent historical buildings, commercial developments, and luxury apartments in prestigious neighborhoods. Their ownership of this property empire has been systematically hidden for years behind offshore companies with generic names like Sheldrake Six and Fliptag Investments." The report continued: "In total, OCCRP found 84 previously unknown offshore companies, registered in the British Virgin Islands, that the Aliyevs and their associates have owned since 2006. The companies appear to be managed as a closely knit system: Again and again, the leaked records show, groups of them filed paperwork or changed directors on the very same day. Their owners and directorships were also frequently shuffled among the same small group of people." OCCRP cited the length of Aliyev's corruption, which spans over two decades, as he led "an increasingly autocratic regime built on the jailing of journalists, lawyers, and activists, fraudulent elections, and massive corruption." In addition, Aliyev showered lavish gifts to Members of Congress who traveled to Baku in 2013, based on reports by the Office of Congressional Ethics.
Established in 1972, the Armenian Assembly of America is the largest Washington-based nationwide organization promoting public understanding and awareness of Armenian issues. The Assembly is a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt membership organization.