www.turan.az-Early in 2015, Dunja Mijatovic, then OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, wrote a letter to Elmar Mammadyarov, Azerbaijan’s foreign minister, conveying her concerns about the case of journalist Khadija Ismayil, who had been arrested for her investigative reports on govenrment corruption and kleptocracy, including the country’s first family’s involvement.
“In the letter, I noted that Ismayilova has serious health issues and requires continuing professional medical care.” Mijatovic said in a written statement to a Congressional panel held in Washington D.C. in December 2015. The letter to Mammadyarov was never responded to…
In her second letter to Azeri authorities in late February, Mijatovic requested permission to attend Ismayilova’s trial. “I noted reports that members of the independent press and civil society had been denied access to the courtroom. No permission to attend the trial was granted,” she informed the Congress members.
As Mijatovic was trying to reach out the foreign minister that summer to seek his support on behalf of the jailed anti-corruption journalist, little did the world know then that Mammadyarov’s own family was busy purchasing lavish apartments in Manhattan, New York’s resonant heartbeat.
According to the New York Tax Department records, obtained by TURAN’s Washington correspondent, in the summer of 2015, the foreign minister’s eldest son Emin Mammadyarov purchased not only one, but two apartments in Manhattan, paying slightly over $4.2 million U.S. dollars in total, in all-cash deals.
Following a recent social media discussion on Mammadyarov family’s wealth and their Manhattan apartments, which was first broke by journalist Javansir Hasanli, TURAN’s U.S. correspondent has reached out to New York authorities for more details regarding the deeds of the 31-year-old son of the minister.
Built in 2004 by the Trump organization the building is 21 floors, and it has an suite amenities including an indoor pool, fitness center, sauna and Jacuzzi, a private landscaped roof deck which overlooks the Hudson River. It is also close to New York’s Central Park. Last year, the name “Trump Place” came down from the building’s facade after condominium owners voted to have the name removed.
It is not clear how young Mammadyarov could pay huge sums for luxury units in Manhattan. TURAN’s correspondent has tried to reach out to him for comment via phone and social media but never heard back.
Mammadyarovs family are not new to New York as the current foreign minister used to once serve at Azerbaijani mission at UN in the early 1990s. In recent years though, the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Azerbaijan was hit by numerous corruption scandals, while the minister himself has been accused of mismanagement and bribery in the local media
The U.S. real estate market is a favorite money-laundering vehicle for foreign kleptocrats, given that in our globalized world, kleptocracy is no longer bound by geography. In fact, much of that stolen wealth weaves its way through the international shadow banking system and ends up in the U.S. property market, with consequences for the western democracy and economy.
As for Mammadyarov, in his 2019 interview dedicated to 100th Anniversary of the Diplomatic Service, the foreign minister told the state-run Azertac News Agency that “I think that the founders of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic would be proud of us if they could witness the development of modern Azerbaijan.”
It isn’t too hard, however, to imagine the founding fathers’ reaction to kleptocracy in action in independent Azerbaijan, where high level officials and their cronies can enjoy the benefits of the freedom and legal protections of rule of law abroad, the very rights that they deny to their own citizens at home.