Pres. Aliyev’s 11-year-old son owned $45 million property in central London

Arzu Aliyeva, Mehriban Aliyeva, President Ilham Aliyev, Heydar Aliyev, Leyla Aliyeva and her husband Emin (Photo: official website of Leyla Aliyeva)

This sensational report was exposed by the international news media on Oct. 3, 2021. While this is not the first time it has been revealed that the family of Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev has purchased hundreds of millions of dollars of properties in foreign countries through offshore companies, it is the latest and most detailed of such scandalous news.

The report about Aliyev’s 11-year-old son Heydar Aliyev was exposed by the Pandora Papers — the largest collection of leaks of concealed financial documents. These secret files were organized by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) with the participation of over 650 reporters worldwide. The records contain “nearly 12 million documents and files from 14 financial service companies in several countries, the British Virgin Islands, Panama, Belize, Cyprus, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Switzerland,” according to the BBC.

While many of “the revealed transactions involve no legal wrongdoing,” there are serious “concerns that some property buyers could be hiding money-laundering activities,” the BBC stated. “Offshore companies can offer to help people hide dodgy cash or avoid tax. They are using those offshore accounts, those offshore trusts, to buy hundreds of millions of dollars of property in other countries, and to enrich their own families, at the expense of their citizens,” added Fergus Shiel from ICIJ.

The BBC went on to report, “The Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his family, who have been accused of looting their own country, are one example. The investigation found the Aliyevs and their close associates have secretly been involved in property deals in the UK worth more than £400 million [$540 million]. Azerbaijan’s ruling Aliyev family, long accused of corruption, have built a vast offshore network to hide their money.” Pres. Aliyev’s annual salary is $228,000.

BBC also revealed that the Aliyevs bought 17 buildings in the UK, including an entire block of office buildings in the posh Mayfair area of London for $45 million in 2009 for the president’s 11-year-old son Heydar Aliyev who was then in grade school.

The Aliyevs bought another building in London for $47 million in 2008 and sold it in 2018 for $89 million, making a profit of $42 million. The Aliyevs sold that property “to the Crown Estate — the Queen’s property empire that is managed by The [UK] Treasury and raises cash for the nation.” BBC reported, “The Crown Estate said it carried out the checks required in law at the time of purchase but is now looking into the matter.”

A separate article on the ICIJ website, under the title of “The Power Players,” highlighted the incredible wealth of the Azerbaijan president’s three children: Arzu Aliyeva, Heydar Aliyev, and Leyla Aliyeva.

The ICIJ article explained, “Ilham Aliyev became president of Azerbaijan in a 2003 election widely regarded as manipulated…He has de facto control over the state oil fund, which generates annual revenue of $9 billion. His presidency has been marked by brutal political crackdowns and human rights violations, including the imprisonment and torture of journalists and dissidents. Despite accusations of running a kleptocracy, Aliyev maintains close relationships with European leaders through what has come to be known as ‘caviar diplomacy.’ The 2017 Azerbaijani Laundromat investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project revealed how almost $3 billion linked to Aliyev was laundered through shell companies, with much of the proceeds spent on gifts for European politicians. Other media investigations, including ICIJ’s Offshore Leaks and Panama Papers, have shown that the Aliyev family controls significant wealth in Azerbaijan and that the president’s three children also own properties in the U.K. and Dubai.”

ICIJ further revealed: “The Pandora Papers provide a view of the startling scale of the Aliyev children’s luxury property investments. They were shareholders of 44 companies registered in the British Virgin Islands between 2006 and 2018. The records show the children owned five companies used to buy more than $120 million worth of high-end London properties between 2006 and 2009, many of which were later sold for vast profits.”

Besides the $45 million London office building owned by then 11-year-old Heydar Aliyev, his sister Arzu purchased another office building one block away through an offshore company for $47 million. “In 2009, a company owned by the eldest child, Leyla Aliyeva, bought a $13.5 million corner building behind London’s Oxford Circus, which has housed a string of businesses run by Aliyev family friends,” according to ICIJ.

In an effort to obscure the ownership of these properties, “starting in 2013, the children transferred shares in their offshore companies to their maternal grandfather, Arif Pashayev. The holdings were later transferred to a series of trusts based in the Isle of Man, a British dependency and secrecy haven. Pashayev and two close associates bought further properties in and around London worth more than $500 million between 2006 and 2017,” ICIJ revealed. Not surprisingly, none of the Aliyev family members responded to ICIJ’s repeated requests for comment.

While it is disgraceful that funds belonging to the citizens of Azerbaijan were misused, the good news for Armenians is that Azerbaijan did not use these large sums to purchase more arms to inflict further damage on the people of Armenia and Artsakh!

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Harut Sassounian

California Courier Editor
Harut Sassounian is the publisher of The California Courier, a weekly newspaper based in Glendale, Calif. He is the president of the Armenia Artsakh Fund, a non-profit organization that has donated to Armenia and Artsakh $917 million of humanitarian aid, mostly medicines, since 1989 (including its predecessor, the United Armenian Fund). He has been decorated by the presidents of Armenia and Artsakh and the heads of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.

2 Comments

  1. Oh “Pres. Aliyev’s 11-year-old son owned $45 million property in central London”??

    So what? Let the Azeris worry about that. At least we know how the Aliyev dictatorship makes its money, unlike the CROOKS that ran Armenia for 30 years and now sold Artsakh away and destroyed Armenia’s economic prosperity.

    The traitors that ran Armenia own similar properties all over the world who stole their way into their wealth, instead of using a nation’s known natural resources. I’d say that is FAR WORSE. And all the while we thought they were building a strong nation. Now what are we doing about THAT PROBLEM?

    • You can complain all you want, but the truth is that the Aliyev despots have been getting away with their evil schemes simply because Azerbaijan’s petrol-oil wealth literally allowed them to hide their dirty laundry in the black gold.

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