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The Azerbaijani Security Service and Its Glendale Bank Account

Special for the Armenian Weekly

The recently leaked e-mails of Italy-based Hacking Team (HT) contain a number of revelations. One of them is that HT marketed or sold its malware used to spy on computers and smart phones to governments or government-connected entities in Russia, Turkey, and the United States, among others. (Armenia was not among the clients.) Between 2013 and 2015, one of HT’s clients was the Ministry of National Security (MNS, formerly known as KGB) of Azerbaijan, known to regularly engage in political witch hunts and persecutions domestically, as well as efforts to spy on Armenian entities.

Between 2013 and 2015, one of HT’s clients was the Ministry of National Security of Azerbaijan, known to regularly engage in political witch hunts and persecutions domestically, as well as efforts to spy on Armenian entities

Tbilisi-based journalist Mike Runey has already detailed some of the technical difficulties that MNS ran into while trying to use HT’s malware. What has not yet been reported is the role of a curious middleman that the Azerbaijani government engaged in its dealings with HT. While MNS was the end user of the malware, the payments—some $384,000 in total—were arranged via another entity, the Horizon Global Group of Abik Charukhchev (also spelled Charuhchev and Чарухчев in Russian).

According to local media reports, as of 2007 Charukhchev was a department chief at Azerbaijan’s Technical University (the former Polytechnic Institute) when he was picked to head a tiny community of Georgian Jews in Baku. Although not fluent in English and unable to communicate directly with HT, MNS insisted that Charukhchev be treated as HT’s formal client. Officials in post-Soviet countries typically use such arrangements in part to hide their direct involvement and, more importantly, to siphon off a portion of the budget funding for contracts.

What was unusual is that Charuhchev’s entity Horizon Global Group was allegedly registered in the United States, using P.O. Box 4379, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90274 as its address. A search of the California Secretary of State online database has not confirmed that Horizon Global Group is registered in the state. But a Google search for the address revealed that Abik Charukhchev, or possibly someone on his behalf, used the same P.O. Box address and Charukhchev’s name for a Bank of America checking account that was originally opened at the 203 N. Glendale Ave branch of the bank in Glendale, Calif.

Why would an individual, who serves as a front man for the Azerbaijani National Security Ministry’s financial dealings, go to a city that has the largest Armenian population in U.S. to open a bank account? A legitimate suspicion is that this was an attempt to spend money in Glendale—perhaps using a safe deposit box that could come with a checking account—for purposes that somehow relate to what Azerbaijan’s Ilham Aliyev claims is his country’s number one enemy: the Armenian Diaspora.

What is known is that since opening its consulate in Los Angeles in 2006, Azerbaijan has sought to actively lobby California politicians. Azerbaijani officials regularly visit California, and a number of California politicians have taken advantage of free trips to Azerbaijan, opposed state-level legislation advocated by the Armenian community, and sought state proclamations on Azerbaijan’s behalf.

However, a more informed answer can only come from a law enforcement investigation of the bank account and associated persons.

12 Comments on The Azerbaijani Security Service and Its Glendale Bank Account

  1. Our representatives do not belong to foreign dictators. We will lead a campaign against them.

  2. We have a right to privacy, at least from other governments. Contact the FBI.

  3. Ask your Congressman to look into it.

  4. The author states: “However, a more informed answer can only come from a law enforcement investigation of the bank account and associated persons.”
    On what grounds would the authorities begin such an investigation? In Glendale, unlike the former states of the Soviet Union, one is presumed innocent until a court of jurisdiction finds otherwise. While it does seem strange, the account at B of A in Glendale, is not in itself evidence of a crime.

  5. This looks like a job for Mr.Mark Kirakos. Hopefully with the help of a professional PI the “kasharakers” will be exposed and prosecuted for bribery from muslim dictators of azarboron.

  6. Any action that is directly related to Azeriz against Armenians (in particular diaspora Armenians ) is a crime acted directly or indirectly by Aliev against us. So, this should definitely be investigated by FBI or other authorities in US. Enough is enough, US Government should take action for a change.

  7. avatar Raffi Dimoian // August 2, 2015 at 7:56 pm // Reply

    Not sure about you, but curious coincidence and possible speculations aside – what ACTUALLY are we dealing with here? I’m neither defending, nor of course quick to rush to assumptions. Just wonder – am I missing something or is there nothing really going on in this article?

  8. An interesting point about this is the choice in the name “Horizon Global Group” and especially being in Glendale, an obvious deception into making an average person seeing the name think that “there is nothing unusual” because somehow it must be part of the Horizon Armenian news network.

  9. This is one bizarre story.
    Honestly, have no idea what to make of it.
    A classic Keystone Kops.

    {“According to local media reports, as of 2007 Charukhchev was a department chief at Azerbaijan’s Technical University (the former Polytechnic Institute) when he was picked to head a tiny community of Georgian Jews in Baku. “}

    A Georgian Jew in Baku ?
    A _Georgian_ Jew (!) in Baku ?
    Opening a bank account in Glendale ?
    To presumably spy on Armenian Diaspora (ANCA ?).

    Is this for real ?

    • It seems the USA is not the only country being run from a foreign and international organized network.

  10. Get a non-Armenian reporter interested in this story.

  11. “Horizon Global Group” – reminds me of “Urban Moving Systems”, as if coming from the same “source” – Satanic Global Group is a much more fitting name.

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