Offshore company that billed £100,000 for supplying frozen mackerel linked to ‘Azerbaijan laundromat’

·4-min read
Izzat Javadova - aka DJ Mikaela Jav
Izzat Javadova - aka DJ Mikaela Jav

A Seychelles company that paid private school fees and another from the Marshall Islands that billed £100,000 for supplying frozen mackerel to an address in Marylebone have been named as linked to the “Azerbaijan laundromat” channelling illicit money into London.

The two offshore companies were among 21 “brass plate” companies identified in court papers as involved in moving money into the accounts of millionaire DJ Izzat Javadova and her husband Suleyman Javadov after a new victory for transparency in the justice system.

The documents also confirm that Ms Javadova, who performs as the DJ Mikaela Jav, was given a Tier 1 “Golden Visa” by the Home Office to allow her to move to London and that she and her husband own four homes in the capital bought between 2005 and 2015.

The details and other new information about the operation of the “Azerbaijan laundromat” money laundering scheme in this country can finally be made public after a judge lifted restrictions keeping them secret in response to an application by the Evening Standard.

Anti-corruption campaigners said the disclosure of the companies - which include several based in Britain - highlighted the need for reform of company formation law in this country, as well as the continuing exploitation of offshore companies to hide suspect transactions.

Mr Javadov and Ms Javadova agreed this week to forfeit £4million held in four of his bank accounts to the National Crime Agency on the grounds that the money in them had entered the country unlawfully via the laundromat.

In a court settlement with law enforcers, the couple, who denied any wrongdoing, were allowed to retain more than £2 million in six other accounts and promised that the NCA would not target other assets held by them.

It had originally alleged that the pair had brought £14 million of illicit money into London via the laundromat, but told Westminster Magistrates’ court that it had balanced the risks and costs of pursuing the couple’s other accounts in agreeing the settlement.

The latest document released by court order is an NCA case summary from last year previously provided in redacted form to protect the identities of Mr Javadov and Ms Javadova.

Those redactions have now been removed following this newspaper’s successful application for their identities to be revealed and a subsequent request for the full contents of the document to be made available to the media.

Among the 21 brass plate “entities” identified as a result is Rovers Production and Tourism Ltd, a Seychelles company. The document says it paid private school fees and other educational institutions, as well as channelling £1.6 million into the couple’s accounts.

No further details are given and the National Crime Agency declined to say which schools had benefited.

But the disclosure that such an obscure company was used to pay fees will raise renewed concerns about the checks, or lack of them, carried out by private schools when accepting money from overseas oligarchs and others.

Another company named in the documents is Allen Finance Ltd, located in the Marshall Islands.

Invoice details obtained by the anti-corruption organisation Transparency International show that it billed around £100,000 to another company in Marylebone for 25,000 kilos of frozen mackerel as part of its activities.

The latest document also discloses that Ms Javadova had “lived in London for some years, originally under a Tier 1 (investor) visa” and that she and her husband bought properties in the capital in 2005, 2010, 2014 and 2015.

The document adds that Ms Javadova was also “the creator of a number of enterprises in Azerbaijan, including a property company called Sahibtaj LLC, founded in 1994, with 56 employees and over 60 corporate tenants, including the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development” and that the NCA accepts that she and her husband “have access to significant wealth in Azerbaijan”.

Further details of how the laundromat worked appear unlikely to be disclosed because of the settlement agreed this week between the NCA and the couple.

But Ben Cowdock, from Transparency International, said the publication of company names would “help journalists and law enforcement around the world gain a better understanding of the Azerbaijani laundromat and where the proceeds of this scheme might have flowed.”

He said the newly disclosed court documents also gave “further evidence that British companies were integral to the Azerbaijani Laundromat” and that it remained “far too easy for criminals and the corrupt to abuse the UK’s lax rules on company formation.”

He added: “If Britain is to be known as a safe and reputable place to do business, the government should prioritise long-overdue reforms to Companies House and crack down on rogue formation agents.”

Susan Hawley, from Spotlight on Corruption, said the disclosure of the companies’ names was an “excellent precedent for open justice”

“Listing the companies involved will allow for some public accountability, and clearly reveal the scale of the abuse of UK corporate structures, as well as those offshore,” she said.

The other laundromat linked companies listed in the NCA document include Ago Ltd, located in Hong Kong; LGS Commerce Ltd from the Marshall Islands; and Translogic (NZ) Ltd from Belize.

There are also numerous others from the Seychelles – Europa Transworld Corp; Mayer Construction and Development Ltd; Nocsis Ltd; Pescara Fashion Ltd; River International Ltd; Solara Fashion Ltd; Stieber Technologies Ltd; and XDR Enterprises Ltd.

UK companies used to funnel money were AZ Intertrans Ltd and Velamond LP, based in Ayr; Crosspark Lines and Rider Import LLP from Potters Bar; Linde Business LP from Stirling; and Santral Electric from Newry.

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