How to Return Money Stolen from Azerbaijan?

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Baku / 08.06.20 / Turan: “The fight against corruption in Azerbaijan and the return of money stolen from the country” was the topic of the video conference, which took place on Friday evening with the participation of independent experts and civil society activists of the country.

The meeting was held on the platform Azad Söz (Free Word).

The initiator of the meeting was the chairman of the Movement for Democracy and Welfare Gubad Ibadoglu.

He noted that discussions in Azerbaijan in the field of the fight against corruption are held on the one hand against the background of the arrests of district heads and senior officials at the level of central government, and on the other, the huge state of disgraced officials in the UK has been identified.

One of the important issues that concern society is whether it will be possible to return the stolen money to Azerbaijan.

According to Ibadoglu, corruption in Azerbaijan is systemic, and the fight against it should be systemic.

The path to the fight against corruption lies through ensuring the independence of the branches of government.

It is important to increase the role of parliament in controlling the use of state budget funds through inspections of the Accounts Chamber.

Parliament must also pass an important package of laws.

And their application can only be ensured by independent courts.

It is important that officials stop considering posts as a source of personal wealth.

For this, it is important, finally, to apply the practice of declaring information on income and property by officials.

The return of stolen money can be ensured in close cooperation with international specialized anti-corruption bodies.

Director of Turan Agency Mehman Aliyev said that he believes that such structures as ASAN and DOST were created to overcome corruption at the local level. However, at the global level, nothing has changed.

The suspension of Azerbaijan’s participation in international coalitions to increase transparency in the extractive industry and the “open government” indicates the government’s unwillingness to fight corruption.

The arrests of individual district heads should not be seen as an effective fight against corruption.

To fight corruption, there must be manifestations of political will at the highest level.

The authorities should present the program and state their vision of the problem and anti-corruption measures.

He cited the example of Hong Kong, where in 1974 the Governor General created an anti-corruption commission of 6 people who were subordinate only to himself and exercised control over all structures while in direct communication with citizens. After 20 years, Hong Kong from the leader of corruption has become one of the countries with a low level of corruption.

A similar structure can be created in Azerbaijan with the participation of representatives of civil society and business.

The political analyst from Ukraine Elkhan Nuriyev said that Ukraine also created an anti-corruption structure two years ago with the participation of appointees from all branches of government.

One of its first results was the return by the former Minister of the Environment of $ 120 million stolen during an alternative energy project.

The Deputy Chairman of the Organization of Azerbaijanis of America (AZAD), expert Gorkhmaz Askerov believes that it is necessary to seek the return of funds withdrawn from the country. For this, the government itself must turn to the appropriate structures of foreign states.

However, in order to induce the authorities to do this, it is important that the pressure of society be mobilized for this purpose.

The head of the Constitution Research Foundation, Alimammad Nuriyev, believes that officials should be prohibited from acquiring assets abroad while they are in government service.

He noted the importance of also expediting the adoption of the conflict of interest law.

There is no corruption at the level of public services.

Corruption is at the administrative level and in the field of public procurement.

The arrest of persons in political office is an indicator of political will.

In Azerbaijan, corruption is pervasive, that is, it has turned into a lifestyle, Nazim Beydemirli said.

According to him, the causes of corruption are nepotism, localism and clannishness in the appointment of personnel.

Beidemirli pointed out that before thinking about how to return stolen money, one should focus on how corruption is generated inside the country.

It is necessary to achieve the establishment of control in the form of supervisory boards for large taxpayers.

We should not search for corruption far away, while billions of companies registered in a two-room apartment, which indicate the legal address of another 300 companies, participate in tenders and appropriate billions of SOCAR.

A former investigator Rufat Safarov believes that as long as the people are not the source of power in Azerbaijan, there will be no real anti-corruption combat.

He believes that the current government has no desire to fight corruption.

As an example of this, he pointed to the identification of the fact that the sons of the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov bought expensive real estate in the USA, but the authorities have never reacted to that.

Lawyer Aslan Ismayilov considers it important to declare a financial amnesty for the return of money.

However, he believes that the struggle should be gradual and ultimatums to power cannot solve the problem.

The head of the Mejlis of the Republican Alternative Party, Natig Jafarlit, also believes that it is necessary to declare a financial amnesty.

At the same time, 30 percent of the legalized property should be transferred to the new Development Fund to finance projects in the field of education, science and investment.

In his opinion, only a coalition government can implement these measures. Because the Yeni Azerbaijan party in power has no ideology, and all these years its loyalty was ensured by corruption mechanisms.

The US investigative journalist Alekper Raufoglu supported Gorkhmaz Askerov in creating a coalition of civil society to return money to Azerbaijan.

The US Department of Justice is ready to cooperate with Azerbaijani NGOs in this area.

There is the experience of Kazakhstan, where money illegally exported from the country was accumulated in a special fund that financed the country’s civil society projects.

The investigative journalist Hafiz Babaly pointed out that corruption scandals usually attract attention after publications in foreign media, although there are also many investigations on the topic of conflict of interest in local media, there is no transparency of tender procedures, and there is no efficient use of state funds.

He also drew attention to the fact that money laundering occurs with the involvement of interested parties and abroad.

The political scientist Hikmet Hajizadeh proposed the adoption of an anti-corruption manifesto, which will become a program document of the anti-corruption struggle of society. He jokingly recalled the Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels. “After all, they succeeded,” said Hajizadeh.

He, as the initiator, was instructed to draw up a manifesto and submit it for discussion. –

 

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