ALIYEVS SEEK FIVE GOLD FIELDS IN KYRGYZSTAN


In late August 2012, around 50 protesters blocked the first-ever attempt of the Kyrgyz government to sell the country’s mineral deposits through an open tender. Protesters, many wearing traditional Kyrgyz felt hats, stormed a television studio shortly before the scheduled live broadcast shouting: “We won’t let you sell our motherland!”

The government was offering 11 small gold concessions, most with still unproven reserves that were in the exploration stage. Bidders included companies from China, Russia, Turkey and Azerbaijan. While the list did not include any major mining companies, one of them stood out: Redgold Estates Azerbaijan Ltd. The relatively new company had been incorporated about 20 months earlier in Azerbaijan. It submitted bids for five of the gold fields.

What nobody knew was that the Kyrgyz government was offering to sell the country’s assets to what is likely the family of the president of another country: Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani company is likely majority owned by the First Family of Azerbaijan.

Despite the fact that corporate ownership information has been confidential in Azerbaijan since 2012, the family’s ownership was revealed in internal data of the Panama-based offshore-services provider Mossack Fonseca obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and more than 100 other media partners.

According to the Mossack Fonseca’s files, a company of identical name – Redgold Estates Ltd.—had been incorporated in the Seychelles six weeks before the Azerbaijani company was formed. The Azerbaijani Redgold company also shares a same address in Baku with a partner of the mining consortium. According to the Tax Justice Network, a coalition of researchers and activists focused on the harmful impacts of tax avoidance, tax competition and tax havens, the Seychelles is one of the world’s most opaque and secretive tax havens.

Redgold Estates Ltd. is owned by three offshore companies and one in the United Kingdom (UK). Panama-based Londex Resources S.A. owns 45 percent; Willy & Meyris S.A. (which couldn’t be found in any jurisdiction) owns 29 percent; Seychelles-based Fargate Mining Corp. owns 15 percent; and the UK company Globex International LLP owns 11 percent. The same four companies own another gold mining consortium, which was awarded six gold fields in Azerbaijan.

An earlier investigation by the OCCRP revealed that Globex International LLP, one of the owners of Redgold Estates Ltd., is itself owned by three Panamanian companies: Hising Management S.A., Lynden Management Group Inc., and Arblos Management Corp, which in turn are managed by Aliyev’s two daughters, Leyla and Arzu Aliyeva, and by Olivier Mestelan, a Swiss businessman close to the ruling family.

Mossack Fonseca’s files reveal the same three Panamanian companies also own Londex Resources S.A. The trio’s control of Londex Resources means that President Aliyev’s family and inner circle controlled a majority stake – 56 percent – in both consortiums, far more than has been known to date.

The family’s interest in setting up a gold mining operation in Kyrgyzstan was also not previously known.

The family’s mining operations in Azerbaijan are currently suspended pending future funding according to financial records obtained by OCCRP. The investigation by OCCRP showed the consortium is deep in debt and has not paid workers salaries nor met some of its commitments to the Government of Azerbaijan.

The family did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Kyrgyzstan, a poor, mountainous country, is rich in gold and other mineral deposits. The country, whose fragile economy depends heavily on gold exports from a single gold mine, sought to end illicit license trading under new mining laws adopted in April 2012 during an anti-corruption drive. The mining law amendments require all small concessions to be auctioned publicly to the highest bidder.

Following the protests, the auction was abandoned and was supposed to be rescheduled. It is not clear whether the Aliyevs received other mining licenses in Kyrgyzstan. The family owned Globex, one of the ultimate owners of Redgold Estates stated it was intending to participate in gold mining projects in Azerbaijan, Russia and CIS countries.

 

The government was offering 11 small gold concessions, most with still unproven reserves that were in the exploration stage. Bidders included companies from China, Russia, Turkey and Azerbaijan. While the list did not include any major mining companies, one of them stood out: Redgold Estates Azerbaijan Ltd. The relatively new company had been incorporated about 20 months earlier in Azerbaijan. It submitted bids for five of the gold fields.

What nobody knew was that the Kyrgyz government was offering to sell the country’s assets to what is likely the family of the president of another country: Azerbaijan. The Azerbaijani company is likely majority owned by the First Family of Azerbaijan.

Despite the fact that corporate ownership information has been confidential in Azerbaijan since 2012, the family’s ownership was revealed in internal data of the Panama-based offshore-services provider Mossack Fonseca obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and more than 100 other media partners.

According to the Mossack Fonseca’s files, a company of identical name – Redgold Estates Ltd.—had been incorporated in the Seychelles six weeks before the Azerbaijani company was formed. The Azerbaijani Redgold company also shares a same address in Baku with a partner of the mining consortium. According to the Tax Justice Network, a coalition of researchers and activists focused on the harmful impacts of tax avoidance, tax competition and tax havens, the Seychelles is one of the world’s most opaque and secretive tax havens.

Redgold Estates Ltd. is owned by three offshore companies and one in the United Kingdom (UK). Panama-based Londex Resources S.A. owns 45 percent; Willy & Meyris S.A. (which couldn’t be found in any jurisdiction) owns 29 percent; Seychelles-based Fargate Mining Corp. owns 15 percent; and the UK company Globex International LLP owns 11 percent. The same four companies own another gold mining consortium, which was awarded six gold fields in Azerbaijan.

An earlier investigation by the OCCRP revealed that Globex International LLP, one of the owners of Redgold Estates Ltd., is itself owned by three Panamanian companies: Hising Management S.A., Lynden Management Group Inc., and Arblos Management Corp, which in turn are managed by Aliyev’s two daughters, Leyla and Arzu Aliyeva, and by Olivier Mestelan, a Swiss businessman close to the ruling family.

Mossack Fonseca’s files reveal the same three Panamanian companies also own Londex Resources S.A. The trio’s control of Londex Resources means that President Aliyev’s family and inner circle controlled a majority stake – 56 percent – in both consortiums, far more than has been known to date.

The family’s interest in setting up a gold mining operation in Kyrgyzstan was also not previously known.

The family’s mining operations in Azerbaijan are currently suspended pending future funding according to financial records obtained by OCCRP. The investigation by OCCRP showed the consortium is deep in debt and has not paid workers salaries nor met some of its commitments to the Government of Azerbaijan.

The family did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

Kyrgyzstan, a poor, mountainous country, is rich in gold and other mineral deposits. The country, whose fragile economy depends heavily on gold exports from a single gold mine, sought to end illicit license trading under new mining laws adopted in April 2012 during an anti-corruption drive. The mining law amendments require all small concessions to be auctioned publicly to the highest bidder.

Following the protests, the auction was abandoned and was supposed to be rescheduled. It is not clear whether the Aliyevs received other mining licenses in Kyrgyzstan. The family owned Globex, one of the ultimate owners of Redgold Estates stated it was intending to participate in gold mining projects in Azerbaijan, Russia and CIS countries.

Саргсян пошел молиться в церковь 


Президент Армении Серж Саргсян 4 апреля в ереванской церкви Святого Григория Просветителя присутствовал на «единой молитве за Родину и защищающих ее военнослужащих», передает „Новости Армении“.

Как сообщили агентству в пресс-службе главы Армении, молитва была совершена с благословения католикоса всех армян Гарегина Второго.

Азербайджан может нанести удар по Степанакерту ПРИКАЗ МИНИСТРА ОБОРОНЫ


В результате провала военных действий, несущие тяжелые боевые потери Армянские вооруженные силы открыли огонь по населенным пунктам, расположенных вблизи линии соприкосновения, тем самым нанесли ущерб мирному населению. Несмотря на неоднократные и настоятельные предупреждения Министерства обороны Азербайджана не прибегать к бесчеловечным мерам, армянская сторона вынуждает Азербайджан предпринимать адекватные меры, говорится в заявлении Минобороны Азербайджана.

„Азербайджанская сторона призывает Армению к соблюдению норм международного права и воздержаться от применения силы против мирного населения.
Также сообщаем что, если в кратчайшие сроки противник не прекратит огонь по нашим населённым пунктам, Министр обороны приказал быть готовым для применения всех тяжелых боевых средств находящихся в распоряжении Вооруженных Сил, включая ракетно-артиллерийские войска с целью нанесения сокрушительных ударов по городу Ханкенди и других населённых пунктов находящихся на оккупированных территориях Азербайджана“, – говорится в заявлении.

Did Prisoner Releases Help Secure Washington’s Welcome?


Azerbaijan was welcomed at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, DC on March 30 as an international energy security and counterterrorism asset, while the country’s repressive ways gained only a faint mention.

US Secretary of State John Kerry thanked Aliyev for making it to the March 31-April 1 summit and praised Azerbaijan’s role in helping Europe meet its energy needs. “Azerbaijan is located in a complex region right now and I think President Aliyev has been very studious and thoughtful about how to respond to some of those needs, particularly with his leadership on the Southern Gas Corridor,” Kerry said.

In his public remarks, Kerry skipped the controversial matter of Azerbaijan’s political prisoners. Only a post-meeting press release took note of Azerbaijan’s “recent positive steps” and urged “further progress” on the human-rights front.

These positive steps include the March 17 pardon of 14 individuals described by human rights watchdogs as political prisoners. As the Nuclear Security Summit approached, widely respected human rights lawyer Intigam Aliyev, in prison for nearly a year, was freed when the Azerbaijani Supreme Court replaced his 7.5-year sentence for alleged illegal business activities, abuse of power and tax evasion (a familiar trio) with a suspended five-year sentence. Amnesty International described the move as “long overdue steps” toward correcting the “injustice” done to the lawyer and “all remaining prisoners of conscience.”

Some observers think that the prison doors are opening because Aliyev needs to cushion Western criticism amidst an economic squeeze. Low prices for oil, a commodity that helps support Aliyev’s rule, led to an unusually bold display of public anger earlier this year over Azerbaijan’s weakened economy and two-time depreciated currency.

Azerbaijan has denied, though, that it is seeking international financial assistance, and still sticks to vanity projects, such as plans to host a Formula One race this summer in the capital, Baku. Its lackluster record on the civil-rights front did not prevent the World Bank on March 28 from granting Azerbaijan an additional, $140-million loan for highway construction.

Other calculations could be in mind, too. The confrontation over Syria between Russia and NATO member Turkey has threatened regional security and the South Caucasus countries were pressured to take sides.

“It looks like [Aliyev] needs the West a bit more and Russia and Turkey a bit less at the moment and keeping pro-Western liberal critics in jail no longer seems such a good idea,” commented Thomas de Waal, South Caucasus analyst and Senior Associate Fellow with Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

But Aliyev’s invitation to the Nuclear Security Summit came in January, long before any release of prisoners.

Azerbaijani prisons still hold pro-Western liberal critics, most notably investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova, a former employee of US-government-funded RFE/RL. The Supreme Court plans to hear a complaint about the dismissed appeal of her case, Interfaxreported this week. Intigam Aliyev’s release has sparked some Azerbaijani journalists to hope that the court will free Ismayilova as well.

But Baku has not yet kicked the habit of arresting independent thinkers. Just as Aliyev was headed to Washington, writer Akram Aylisli was briefly detained in the Baku airport and prevented from travelling to Italy for a literary festival.

Aylisli ran afoul of the political establishment because of his 2013 novel Stone Dreams, which did not follow the official line on the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict over breakaway Nagorno Karabakh. He was then stripped of his state pension and the title of national writer. Hafiz Hajiyev, leader of the Modern Musavat Party, went so far as to offer a financial reward to anyone who would cut off the writer’s ears.

Human-rights activists, both Azerbaijani and foreign, caution Western leaders not to be taken in by Aliyev’s attempts to polish his image. Pressure should be kept on Baku until all controversially arrested individuals are freed, Human Rights Watch advised.

The caveat is, critics complain, that when Western governments think of Azerbaijan, they tend to think first of a big gas pipeline, and only later of a repressive government.

So far, no outward sign at the Nuclear Security Summit that that tradition has changed.

EAN

Panama Papers: Massive tax haven document leak exposes corruption and crime on global scale


  

A trove of files obtained by German journalists reveals how a global industry of law firms and large banks sell financial secrecy services to politicians, crooks and drug dealers as well as billionaires, celebrities and sports stars.

A massive leak of millions of documents has revealed that heads of state, criminals and celebrities conduct and sometimes conceal their business activities in tax havens. The leak exposes holdings in shadowy companies that are owned by 11 past and present heads of state, and reveals how partners of Russian President Vladimir Putin clandestinely transferred no less than $2 billion through banks and companies registered in tax shelters.
The source of the leaked documents is a very powerful yet not very well-known law firm called Mossack Fonseca. This firm has branches in Hong Kong, Miami, Zurich and more than 35 other locations around the world, among them Israel. The documents reveal many Israeli connections and disclose that businesspeople with Israeli citizenship as well as Israeli banks and companies have used the law firm to register companies in tax havens around the world.

The Panama Papers: Politicians, Criminals, and the Rogue Industry That Hides Their CashPanama Papers: Israeli firms, shareholders listed in docs detailing offshore holdings  

Vladimir PutinPutin cronies used shady companies to funnel $2 billion

The documents expose, among other things, firms controlled by the prime ministers of Iceland and Pakistan, the king of Saudi Arabia and the children of the president of Azerbaijan registered in tax havens.

 They refer to at least 33 companies and individuals that have been on a United States government blacklist for having connections with Mexican drug lords, terror organizations like Hezbollah and rogue states like North Korea and Iran. One of the companies exposed in the leaked documents provided fuel for the aircraft used by the Syrian government to bomb and kill thousands of its citizens.