New evidence indicates payments to 17 Black came from the Azerbaijani Laundromat
by Matthew Vella
Yorgen Fenech was publicly identified as the owner of 17 Black in November 2018
New information suggests that payments transferred to 17 Black’s account at Noor Bank in Dubai originate from the “Azerbaijani Laundromat,” a network of shell companies used to embezzle public funds out of Azerbaijan and pay bribes around the world.
The UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) just settled its prosecution for money laundering against Izzat Javadova, a cousin of Azerbaijan’s ruler Ilham Aliyev, and her husband Suleyman Javadov, son of Azerbaijan’s former deputy energy minister.
As part of the settlement, the NCA seized £4 million the couple received from Azerbaijani Laundromat shell companies.
The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation obtained a registry filing of one of the shell companies cited in the NCA’s case: the filing for Hong Kong company Ago Limited (attached, page 8) states that, from 2015 onwards, the entity was owned, on paper, by Azeri national Rufat Baratzada, a security guard at a construction site in Baku.Downloadable Files Azeri Laundromat beneficiaries
Baratzada’s details on Ago Limited’s filing are identical to those on filings of Mayor Trans Ltd, a Seychelles shell company that sent €1.4 million from its account at ABLV Bank in Latvia to 17 Black’s account at Noor Bank in Dubai, held in Yorgen Fenech’s name.
The mechanisms, facilitators, and frontman involved in the payments to the Javadovs in the UK case are the same as those involved in the payments to 17 Black.
This warrants further investigation into whether 17 Black, first identified by Daphne Caruana Galizia, was a bridge between the Azerbaijani Laundromat and high-level officials in Malta, the Foundation said in a statement.