Role of int'l banks in financing illegal military activities of VoMA paramilitary group in Azerbaijan's Karabakh (PHOTO)

Politics Materials 11 April 2023 13:56 (UTC +04:00)
Role of int'l banks in financing illegal military activities of VoMA paramilitary group in Azerbaijan's Karabakh (PHOTO)

BAKU, Azerbaijan, April 11. A few days ago, a journalistic investigation into the involvement of foreign banks in the fundraising effort for a project run by the "We Are Our Mountains" Development Agency with the intention of organizing illegal military activities on the territory of Azerbaijan's Karabakh revealed a number of serious facts.

According to information from open sources, CITIBANK NA and RAIFFEISEN Bank are participating in the financing of these illegal and separatist-terrorist activities.

As a result of the investigations, it turned out that both banks are closely connected with the activities of another Armenian paramilitary group named VoMA ("Voxj Mnalu Arvest," or the art of survival), which was created in Armenia in 2014 by professional Armenian military, including war criminals and participants in the occupation war against Azerbaijan, with the aim of training mercenaries in this country.

The information on the official website of the group reveals that ordinary citizens and members of the Armenian diaspora living in different countries of the world are involved in exercises in various regions of Armenia, as well as in military camps located on the territory of Karabakh.

PHOTO 1. Regional units of the VoMA paramilitary group

The VoMA paramilitary group accepts donations to the organization's budget through various payment systems in order to ensure the continuity of its activities. With great regret, it should be noted that according to the information on the official website of the organization, it becomes clear that both of the above-mentioned banks also play a role in the VoMA financing process.

Thus, the intermediary bank for donations to the organization in dollars (USD) is CITIBANK NA, NEW YORK; in euros (EUR) is RAIFFEISEN ZENTRALBANK OESTERREICH, AG; and in rubles (RUB) is SBERBANK MOSCOW PJSC. Along with both Western banks, SBERBANK, which is considered the most important bank of the neighboring Russian Federation, also participates in the financing process.

PHOTO 2. The bank details of the VoMA paramilitary group

There is sufficient information in open sources about the illegal military activities of Armenian mercenaries who have undergone special military training in the VoMA group not only within the state borders of Armenia but also on the territory of Karabakh. In the pre-war period, the organization widely covered the involvement of Armenian youth and even schoolchildren in Kalbajar and other Azerbaijani territories, which were occupied back then, in order to conduct military exercises there.

PHOTO 3. Involvement of Armenian schoolchildren in the exercises of the VoMA paramilitary group in Kalbajar

During the second Karabakh war, the mentioned group was taking part in active hostilities against Azerbaijan. As a result, Azerbaijan's Prosecutor General's Office initiated a criminal case against this armed formation.

Based on the initiated criminal case, the creation of an armed formation not provided for by the legislation of Azerbaijan, the training of members of the group for the purposes of terrorism, the commission of terrorist acts in the formerly occupied territories, as well as support for separatists in Karabakh, were established. In addition, the initiated criminal case also revealed the facts of participation of this group in military actions against peaceful citizens of Azerbaijan and the Armed Forces of the Republic of Azerbaijan, carrying out anti-terrorist operations.

Currently, along with the territories adjacent to the Azerbaijani-Armenian conditional state border, a branch of the organization operates in the city of Khankendi in the Karabakh Economic Region of Azerbaijan. According to financial reports for 2021, posted on the official website of VoMA, part of the income received was spent under the guise of purchasing special equipment for separatist elements in Karabakh. The allocation of the second largest amount of financial resources (about $55,000) to the separatists in Karabakh in the reporting year once again shows that the illegal activities of the VoMA group continue on the territory of Azerbaijan.

PHOTO 4. VoMA's revenues in 2021

PHOTO 5. Areas of spending of the VoMA group in 2021

The indirect participation of global foreign banks, such as CITIBANK NA, RAIFFEISEN Bank, and SBERBANK, in financing separatist activities and illegal military exercises led by the VoMA paramilitary group in the sovereign territories of Azerbaijan, the creation of mercenary forces, and providing them with military supplies, is an international crime.

Moreover, such activity by the mentioned banks is a violation of international compliance and corporate business ethics. On the territories of Karabakh under the jurisdiction of Azerbaijan, only on the basis of a license issued by Central Bank of the Republic of Azerbaijan may any financial activity be conducted. Any banking transaction that does not comply with this condition not only contradicts the legislation of Azerbaijan but also violates the requirements of the Basel Principles, which reflect the prudential rules of the international banking system.

Currently, CITIBANK NA, RAIFFEISENBANK and SBERBANK are involved in the process of financing the VoMA organization, whose terrorist activities have been proven in open sources. Therefore, the Azerbaijani side considers the activities of these banks and all persons cooperating with them in Karabakh illegal and demands a review of their activities.