Weekly news – 25 May 2018

Publikováno: 25. května 2018

This week we bring you an American update to the Azerbaijani Laundromat and news from the so-called ‘West Africa Leaks’.

As a quick refresher, the Azerbaijani Laundromat is a complex network of illicit financial payments that used reputable banks and secret companies to funnel payments from a $ 2.9 billion slush fund to buy political influence and launder Azerbaijan’s image in Europe.

A new investigation by The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) shows how a series of transfers from two shell companies at the heart of the Laundromat funnelled over a million and a half dollars to an organisation which then engaged with a US lobbying firm to improve Azerbaijan’s image in the US. In the process, the firm’s representatives gave thousands of dollars in campaign donations, including to Senators and Representatives who sat on committees that determine foreign aid budgets.

Furthermore, a quarter of a million dollars went to an influential American oil and gas consultant of Azerbaijani origin whoworked to influence US policy in favour of his native country. His lobbying raises the question of whether he should have registered as a foreign agent, as the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) requires people representing the interests of foreign countries to do.

Also this week, the West Africa Leaks showed once again how easy it is for corrupt public officials, money launderers and other criminals to hide behind anonymous companies and access the global financial system.

West African governments should establish public registers of beneficial ownership to peel back the layer of secrecy that allows corrupt officials to avoid scrutiny and disguise their conflicts of interest.

News from Transparency International

New on Voices for Transparency

Five ways access to information falls short in Morocco

by Marwa Fatafta, Regional Advisor for MENA at TI-S

Last month, Morocco joined a group of more than 70 countries in the Open Government Partnership (OGP), after the government had finally adopted an access to information law in February 2018. But in practice, the law contains serious deficiencies and restrictions, causing it to fall tremendously short of international standards.

Source: Transparency International

Also this week, the West Africa Leaks showed once again how easy it is for corrupt public officials, money launderers and other criminals to hide behind anonymous companies and access the global financial system.