Azerbaijani Prosecutor General's Office investigates €84.5mn embezzlement at IT Ministry

By bne IntelliNews November 16, 2015

Officials from the Ministry of Communications and High Technologies (MCHT) of Azerbaijan misappropriated nearly AZN95mn (€84.5mn), according to the country's Prosecutor General's Office. The investigation into the MCHT is most likely linked to the dismissal of long-serving MCHT Minister Ali Abbasov on November 11.

According to the investigation, Beytullah Huseynov, director general of the Baku Telephone Network Production Association (BTNPA), a structure overseen by MCHT, gave out contracts to Bayram Veliyev, a businessman that owned several private companies for telephone lines and new equipment. Between 35% and 45% of the value of the contracts, or AZN21.3mn (18.9mn), returned to Huseynov.

Huseynov reportedly fabricated documents and organised sham tenders for fibre optic works, which in reality were conducted by local telephone networks.

The misappropriation of funds is unlikely to be the only reason for Abbasov's dismissal, because officials in Azerbaijan customarily abuse their public office for personal benefit. Rather, President Ilham Aliyev is likely working to eliminate some of the centres of power that have grown around him, and that he has inherited from his late father Heydar Aliyev. In October, the incumbent dismissed long-serving Security Minister Eldar Mahmudov, another powerful figure.

Other established ministers in Azerbaijan are Transport Minister Ziya Mammadov, who is reportedly considering retiring soon, and Minister of Emergency Situations Kemaleddin Heydarov, who also headed the customs services and is considered by some as the second most powerful man in Azerbaijan.

In addition to Huseynov, the current investigation is targeting Anar Mustafayev, BTNPA's chief accountant and director at private companies 3 nomreli Rabite Temir Tikinti and Rabite Mulki Tikinti; Emin Mammadov, director at private companies Baki Rabite Temir Tikinti and Temir Techizat Servis; Bayram Veliyev; Oktay Rustamov, chief accountant at Aztelekom; Vidadi Zeynalov, director at AzIn Telekom; Jalil Jafarov, director general at Azerpocht; Gambar Beybalayev, director at Optik Rabite, Tikinti ve Qurashdirma; and Namazaly Mammadov. The nine are accused of embezzelment on a large scale, abuse of power, and forgery.

The investigation is underway. 

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