Info about investigation into case of Radio Liberty made public in Azerbaijan

Details added (first version posted on 19:26)

Baku, Azerbaijan, Dec.30

Azerbaijan's Prosecutor General's Office has received information from the relevant state body about the dubious banking operations of the Azerbaijan office of Radio Freedom of Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL İnc), Azerbaijani Prosecutor General's Office told Trend.

The Prosecutor General's Office said that 3,555,668 AZN was transferred from the main office of RFE/RL İnc to the Azerbaijani office from Jan.1, 2010 to Dec.9, 2014. The financial manager (legal representative) of the RFE/RL İnc's Azerbaijan office Yahya Mirzayev cashed 189,100 AZN of this sum as the advance holder and legalized for spending for various purposes, according to the Prosecutor General's Office.

The legality of the recent operations is doubted.

The Prosecutor General's Office said that cashing of 189,100 AZN only by one person - the financial manager - as the advance holder, legalization of these funds for spending on photography and video filming, drinking water, tea, sugar, paying for barber services and other such kind of small expenditures, as well as avoiding to report to the relevant tax authorities about the income of individuals, free distribution of "Ferqli dushunce" magazine on which the Azerbaijani office of RFE/RL İnc spent considerable amount of money and other such facts give ground to assume that significant amount of money was appropriated by making false documents by the officials of the Azerbaijani office of RFE/RL İnc.

The correspondent of Azerbaijani office of RFE/RL İnc Farah Aliyeva, subpoenaed as a witness, said while giving testimony that in fact she got 900 AZN of 3,675 AZN that was executed in her name at Mirzayev's direction in May 2013 and April-May 2014 on the basis of the contract for participation in the "Oxu zali" project of Radio Liberty. She added that the remaining 2,775 AZN was taken by Mirzayev.

The correspondent of Azerbaijani office of RFE/RL İnc Javid Zeynalov said while giving testimony that the financial manager Mirzayev called him to his cabinet in November 2012 and said that his salary as a correspondent is 400 AZN, but he will write out 1,130 AZN for him monthly. Mirzayev proposed Zeynalov to withdraw 400 AZN from the card monthly and 500 AZN in the last month and give the remaining amount to him without telling anybody about this.

Zeynalov cashed 7,910 AZN from December 2012 to June 2013, took only 2,900 AZN of this amount and gave 5,010 AZN to Mirzayev. He resigned in June 2013 due to the non-transparency of the wage.

Thus, as a result of the investigation, it was reveled that using official powers for personal gain, Mirzayev committed forgery and appropriated 7,785 AZN.

The activity of the representation should not conflict with the Azerbaijani legislation, records should be carried out in accordance with the legislation of Azerbaijan and reports to the relevant authorities should be made, according to the regulations of the representation. During the preliminary investigative action on funds expenditure - 1.944.412 AZN and 1.422.176 AZN, which were allocated to the bank accounts of the Azerbaijani representation of RFE/RL İnc in 2010-2014, and then transferred to the accounts of 61 individual entities and 25 legal entities as a monthly salary and payment of services rendered, it was established that the structure didn't submit reports about the income of the individuals to the appropriate tax authorities. It was also established that during its activities, the office had flouted the law, had not submitted reports to the state authorities, and in some cases submitted false information. At the same time it was revealed that though the accreditation of reporters at the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan for the year ended, it was not prolonged.

A check of banking operations of the representation of RFE/RL İnc company, as well as individuals, which cooperated with it, expenditure of funds and other income for their compliance with the tax laws was organized by specialists of the Ministry of Taxes in accordance with the decision of the Nasimi District Court from December 27, 2014 in connection with the questionable banking operations. By the same decision, the court had temporarily suspended operations on the bank accounts of the representation in the International Bank of Azerbaijan. Preliminary check results have given grounds to suppose the tax evasion.

Currently, the Investigation Department for Grave Crimes of the Prosecutor General's Office continues preliminary investigative actions on this criminal case.

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