The Malta Independent 5 August 2021, Thursday

New evidence indicates payments to 17 Black came from the Azerbaijani Laundromat

Tuesday, 6 July 2021, 09:58 Last update: about 29 days ago

The Daphne Caruana Galizia Foundation has called for further investigation into whether Yorgen Fenech’s 17 Black received funds from a network of shell companies used to embezzle funds and pay bribes around the world.

It said new evidence suggests that payments transferred to 17 Black’s account at Noor Bank in Dubai originate from the so-called “Azerbaijani Laundromat.”

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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 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.

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.

The foudnation said 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.

17 Black was identified in a leaked e-mail as one of two sources of income for the Panama companies Hearnville and Tillgate, which were set up by Nexia BT for then Energy Minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister's chief of staff Keith Schembri.

Fenech stands charged with masterminding Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder.

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