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en/uk-azerbaijani-leadership-accused-of-serial-human-rights-abuses-used-british-companies-in-money-laundering-and-lobbying-scheme-guardian-investigation-reveals#c162125

UK at centre of secret $3bn Azerbaijani money laundering and lobbying scheme

Author: The Guardian, Published on: 5 September 2017

Azerbaijan’s ruling elite operated a secret $2.9bn (£2.2bn) scheme to pay prominent Europeans, buy luxury goods and launder money through a network of opaque British companies, an investigation by the Guardian reveals. Leaked data shows that the Azerbaijani leadership, accused of serial human rights abuses, systemic corruption and rigging elections, made more than 16,000 covert payments from 2012 to 2014...One of Europe’s leading banks, Danske, processed the payments via its branch office in Estonia. Danske Bank said “money laundering and other illegal practices” had taken place. It first noticed the irregular payments in 2014. Estonia’s financial regulator said systems designed to stop money laundering at the branch had failed...The four firms at the centre of the Azerbaijani Laundromat were all limited partnerships registered in the UK. They were: Metastar Invest, based at a service address in Birmingham; Hilux Services and Polux Management, set up in Glasgow; and LCM Alliance, from Potters Bar, Hertfordshire. Their corporate “partners” are anonymous tax haven entities based in the British Virgin Islands, Seychelles and Belize...All four British companies...have...been dissolved.

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Related companies: Danske Bank