The impact of the Azerbaijani Laundromat

The impact of the Azerbaijani Laundromat

On Monday 4 September the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and its partners published the first in a series of stories showing how Azerbaijan used a $2.9 billion slush fund to buy influence across Europe.

Since then, Transparency International has been following up on the allegations and, along with OCCRP, calling for action to hold to account the politicians, businesses and intermediaries who were named in this complex money-for-influence scandal. 

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The Council of Europe: President resigns

When the Azerbaijan Laundromat story broke, Transparency International immediately launched a campaign asking people to write to their country’s representatives at Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), and call for full investigations into those receiving “dirty money”. Close to 800 letters were sent within the first week of the campaign. Transparency International also sent a representative to Strasbourg to hand over further evidence and push for swift and decisive action.

On 6 October, the President of PACE, Pedro Agramunt, resigned before a motion to remove him could be debated. 

We are now calling for PACE to introduce strong new integrity measures.

In the past few weeks:

  • Alain Destexhe, a Belgian Senator and PACE Rapporteur on Azerbaijan, resigned from his PACE mandate on 16 September over allegations that his foundation received money from Azerbaijan. His report on human rights in Azerbaijan had ended with sympathetic statements about the government and criticism of civil society there. 
  • The Secretary General of the Council of Europe announced that  Azerbaijan’s membership in the Council of Europe would be reconsidered.
  • PACE added a report and resolution about the laundromat scheme to its agenda (see box), and will hear another report on the functioning of democratic institutions in Azerbaijan.

The Assembly urges the Azerbaijani authorities to start an independent and impartial inquiry into these allegations without delay and furthermore, co-operate fully with the competent international authorities and bodies on this issues.

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Elsewhere in Europe:

As The Group of States Against Corruption (GRECO), the Council of Europe’s own anti-corruption body, has pointed out in their thorough and highly critical report, PACE is not living up to its mandate to uphold the highest standards of good governance and human rights across Europe.

On 11 October, PACE will discuss its own integrity procedures.

We will be demanding changes. 

For any press enquiries please contact press@transparency.org

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