United Kingdom seizes money allegedly laundered via Latvia, Estonia

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A law enforcement agency in the United Kingdom has announced that it has seized millions of pounds allegedly laundered via Baltic states Latvia and Estonia on behalf of figures among Azerbaijan's elite.

"Millions of pounds derived from the Azerbaijan laundromat – a sophisticated international money laundering scheme – have been seized following a National Crime Agency investigation into money held in bank accounts linked to an Azeri politician," said the National Crime Agency in the former EU member state.

"Financial investigators secured a Forfeiture Order for £5.6million [EUR 6.7 million] in UK bank accounts belonging to family members of Javanshir Feyziyev, who is a serving member of the Azerbaijan parliament, Chair of the UK-Azerbaijan All Parliamentary Co-operation Committee, and Co-chair of the EU-Azerbaijan Parliamentary Co-operation Committee.

"Following an extensive investigation, six Account Freezing Orders were obtained for accounts held in the name of his wife, Parvana Feyziyeva, one of his children, Orkhan Javanshir, and his nephew, Elman Javanshir.

"Investigators suspected that the funds in these accounts were derived from the Azerbaijan laundromat and as such were recoverable property," the Agency said.

"Through the laundromat, money would be moved via a complex network of shell companies that operated bank accounts in Estonia and Latvia, a process known as layering. Some of these transfers were accompanied by documents, including invoices and contracts, purporting to support legitimate and very substantial business transactions," it added.

The statement did not specify which banks were involved, but the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) has extensive details on the massive scam and LSM has previously reported on Latvian connections to the Azerbaijan laundromat.

Following a three-week hearing at Westminster Magistrates Court in London, District Judge John Zani was satisfied there was overwhelming evidence that these documents were entirely fictitious and were produced in order to mask the underlying money laundering activities of those orchestrating the accounts.

In his ruling, the Judge stated that having exhaustively considered the evidence filed, he was entirely satisfied that there was a significant money laundering scheme in existence in Azerbaijan, Estonia and Latvia at the relevant time.

A much larger sum, £15.3m, was initially frozen in the bank accounts, but only £5.6m was forfeited.

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