Friday, September 19, 2014


Azerbaijan

Azerbaijani President Aliyev Named Corruption's 'Person Of The Year'

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev "and his family, in fact, along with other persons in his inner circle are involved in so many secret businesses that we uncovered," says Paul Radu, OCCRP executive director.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev "and his family, in fact, along with other persons in his inner circle are involved in so many secret businesses that we uncovered," says Paul Radu, OCCRP executive director.
By Robert Coalson
In 2012, corruption watchdog Transparency International reported that two-thirds of the world's countries may be considered "highly corrupt." It would seem tough to choose someone for the dubious honor of corruption's "person of the year."

One investigative-journalism NGO has done just that.

The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), based in Sarajevo and Bucharest, has awarded the crown to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

The group, which specializes in reporting on corruption in the region stretching from Eastern Europe to Central Asia, also gave out some "honorable" mentions. They went to alleged Kosovo-born cigarette and drugs smuggler Naser Kelmendi, Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, Russian President Vladimir Putin, politically connected Serbian entrepreneur Miroslav Miskovic, longtime Uzbek President Islam Karimov, and wanted Serbian drugs smuggler Darko Saric.

The informal list was determined by representatives of the 15 international media organizations that make up the OCCRP. It is aimed at highlighting the intrepid and often courageous reporting that is needed to expose corruption in these notoriously opaque countries.

The OCCRP gave the nod to Aliyev, citing extensive reports and "well-documented evidence" that "the Aliyev family has been systematically grabbing shares of the most profitable businesses" in Azerbaijan for many years.

Secret Ownership Stakes

The reports include secret ownership stakes in banks, construction firms, gold mines, and telecommunications firms. Many of the reports about Aliyev were investigated by OCCRP affiliate Khadija Ismayilova, a journalist with RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service.

"President Aliyev and his family, in fact, along with other persons in his inner circle are involved in so many secret businesses that we uncovered, actually together with Radio Free Europe this year," says Paul Radu, OCCRP's executive director. "We identified hidden companies that were owned by the first family of Azerbaijan in Panama, for instance, or in the Czech Republic. And we identified assets that they owned back in Azerbaijan via these companies."

Radu is optimistic about the new tools that are making this kind of reporting more and more effective. One example he cites is that OCCRP has successfully partnered with a Scottish computer hacker.

"He works right now with us at the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project and he is the one who scraped [eds: got into] the Panamanian registry of companies and that allowed us to perform name-based searches," Radu says. "And this is how we found the companies that are owned by the daughters of Aliyev and by his wife in Panama."

However, Radu adds that the impact of such reporting in the case of the Aliyev family has not been what one might hope.

The ownership structures of the family's foreign assets have been changed; the Azerbaijani parliament in June passed a law making it more difficult to discover who actually owns commercial companies and shielding Aliyev and his family from prosecution.

A Terrifying Campaign Of Threats

Moreover, journalist Ismayilova was subjected to a terrifying campaign of threats and harassment that she alleges was orchestrated by Aliyev's political allies.

Nevertheless, OCCRP editor Drew Sullivan says that "2012 was a banner year for those of us who cover organized crime and corruption. It is a growth industry around the world."

According to Radu, the OCCRP is now combining numerous international databases and linking them to the organization's ongoing files of "persons of interest" -- future candidates to unseat Aliyev as "person of the year."

The OCCRP list is also intended to highlight the global impact of crime and corruption. Radu maintains that most of the people on the OCCRP list have dubious and opaque ties far beyond the borders of their country.

"There are persons such as Darko Sadic, for instance, who is a well-known drug trafficker," he says. "And these sorts of persons are not well-known outside of the Balkans, but in fact they are part of very, very large networks that stretch sometimes across continents. In this case, this person was involved in cocaine trafficking from Argentina all the way to the Balkans."

Radu adds that organized crime from the Balkans and the former Soviet Union is deeply involved in the savage drug wars in Mexico and in massive resource theft from impoverished countries in Africa. This makes it all the more important to expose these people and the corrupt schemes they exploit, he says.

Robert Coalson

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by: Jack from: US
January 02, 2013 17:56
and of course according to the same CIA-commissioned "report" the beacons of non-corruption are Madelene Albright and Hillary Clinton. In fact Hillary is so un-corrupt, that even the corpse of main WhiteWater scandal witness, who gladly committed "suicide", does not rot in his grave
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
January 02, 2013 22:04
Well well well,why criticize the good old sultan of azeri Ilhamistan-whose creation was his petrol station??? And what will the western defenders of demockracy do after all this talking turkey-cut the economic ties with azeristan???-impose a trade embargo???-or just bomb the petrol station after Syria and Iran???Sticks and stones may break me bones but words will never hurt me says the son of kgb general Allahtan Ilhan and he is bloody right!!!So,just shut the you know what up and do your good business with the most corrupt person.
In Response

by: Bob from: NY
January 05, 2013 07:57
"NGO" based in Saraevo and Bucharest discussed corruption??? And then RFERL publicized widely??? Excuse me!!! It's credibility smell very very bad. By the way scraping (in other words hucking) into the Panamian registry is illegal without formal permition is illegal and questioning the whole report and it credibility.

by: Bayram from: USA
January 03, 2013 01:33
Hey, when you talk about corruption, don't forget my beloved Turkmenistan too.

by: Anonymous
January 03, 2013 16:26
quite suitable title.
besides:
daghestan and syria are not far (geographically, at least). aliyev and his family might be waiting for some Arab spring events and terrorism to flourish?!
the interesting thing about corrupt, decadent and narcissistic regimes - as in this case - is their capacity of ignoring their surroundings and easily disconnecting from certain developments.
the osman "empire", arab khulafá and khilafát, recently arab dictators and politicians, self-loving turkic nations' presidents and their entourage are only some examples.
change will come. in some of these nations it's quite often just a generation, father-son-good-bye.
however, in terms of mentalities quite often little change discernible. (just check out the muslim brotherhood in Egypt, "Mohammad Mubarak Mursi" (as some Egyptians now call him) fighting/demonstrating against corruption and misuse of authority/abuse of power and ending up with a new (roughly supported only by 30%) constitution. the muslim brotherhood's mursi is already thinking of prosecuting journalists for criticism and supposed offenses forgetting or not forgetting that under Mubarak he and his movement were "fighting for freedom".
obviously, no real desire for progress.

by: Zareh from: Canada
January 03, 2013 17:31
...of course he is going to blame this on "international Armenian conspiracy"

by: fariborz from: iran
January 03, 2013 21:03
exactly right. he is also supporting the dangerous terrosrist groups that call themselves PAN TURK. they carry out threats against iran. in this way we observe the turkey president strong support. this is a time lag between peace and war.

by: Sergey from: NZ
January 04, 2013 05:24
KIing Aliyev can now join his other national hero the axe murderer safarov.

Both represent their people well, one as a sick axe murderer and national hero, and the other as the most corrupt leader in the world..

Fake nation, sick people

In Response

by: Lala from: BK
January 04, 2013 19:05
it's so obvious that you are either Armenian or sooo pro-Armenian.. :) calm down..
In Response

by: Camel Anaturk from: Kurdistan
January 04, 2013 21:00
Dear Tra-Lala djan,its so obvious you are a lala-do you know the meaning of the word in turkish??? It`s sooo obvious where some of the money stolen from your crazydent goes-into the bank accounts of its azeri kgb stooges like allahtan lala djan!!!
In Response

by: David from: UK
January 04, 2013 21:38
it's so obvious that you are either azerbaijanian or a turk :)

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
January 04, 2013 11:51
Poor Aliyev, he will not be able to sleep normally any more - now that the "NGO" representing the most bankrupt NATO nations of the world proclaimed him something :-))

by: Victor from: Oniani
January 04, 2013 14:41
Aliyev gets the title but western democracies get the credit; what a disgrace for western democracies to court such corrupt dictators and to cover up their practices hypocritically for reasons of realpolitik.
The only parties to blame are Western democracies and good for Aliyev and his alike who are building fortunes by bribing those democracies.
In Response

by: Nariman Azizov from: baku
January 05, 2013 04:09
Great Point! All autocrats in the Muslim world are backed by the "free" West.

by: Mike from: Russia
January 05, 2013 06:54
For anyone that's complaining that this "award" was based on some pro-West bias, note the fact that Azerbaijan usually gets the full support of the west, as they turn a blind eye to all the wrongdoings, so Azerbaijan will keep the oil flowing. In fact, Armenia, Azerbaijan's enemy, is fairly pro-Russia, so it really doesn't make any sense for this report to have targeted Azebaijan because the source is pro-Western. If anything, I would expect such a report to under report the issues in Azerbaijan if it were pro-western.

by: Abshir X Teynax from: Jeddah
January 05, 2013 10:02
How about the year of 2011, sure my beloved country Somalia formed predint Mr Sharif has the Honour of being Corruption's 'Person Of The Year of 2011'
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