The son of the SOCAR president who dealt with the Joseph Muscat administration throughout the corruption-infested ElectroGas power station project somehow purchased a $22 million mansion in London’s Grosvenor Square at the age of 25 despite his father’s comparatively modest official income.
The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) uncovered the property and its ownership after the UK last year passed the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act, which required all overseas entities that own properties in the country to declare their ultimate beneficial owners by the end of January.
The OCCRP has also found that former SOCAR President Rovnag Abdullayev – who served in the role as the Malta deal was being negotiated and delivered, and who is now Azerbaijan’s deputy economy minister – has had no known sources of income save for his state salary.
It cited Azerbaijani state oil company’s annual reports that show total annual salaries and benefits for the company’s president and around a dozen vice presidents add up to less than $800,000.
As such, the newly-discovered fact that Abdullayev’s son, Rashad Abdullayev, owns a $22.4 million four-bedroom apartment at a prominent address in one of London’s most expensive areas is raising a number of questions.
He was found to have acquired the property through an offshore company registered in Guernsey, where corporate ownership information is not public, back in 2019 – two years after Malta’s ElectroGas power station was opened for business – when he was 25 years of age.
The source of the funds, however, remains unclear. The $22.4 million price tag would have made it virtually impossible for the property to have come from Rovnag Abdullayev’s official salary, and he is not known to have any other sources of income.
A vast and secret business empire owned by Abdullayev and his son has, however, been uncovered. The Azerbaijani state oil company had been immersed in allegations of corruption and secretive financial dealings that allegedly enriched the Azerbaijani elite during the years in which Abdullayev was in charge.
Abdullayev led SOCAR when ElectroGas concession was negotiated
Abdullayev led SOCAR for 17 years up until February 2022, which places him at the helm of the company during the entire time the Joseph Muscat administration was negotiating the ElectroGas power station and its accompanying 18-year natural gas supply agreement.
Both agreements were primarily negotiated by former energy minister Konrad Mizzi, and both have since been shown to have been mired in corruption.
Abdullayev was in Malta standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the disgraced trio of former prime minister Joseph Muscat, his chief of staff Keith Schembri and then-energy minister Konrad Mizzi when the ElectroGas project was inaugurated in April 2017.
Before that, in September 2015, Abdullayev had met with Muscat, Mizzi and Schembri at Castille.
He was ostensibly in Malta in his capacity as president of the Azerbaijani Football Association to watch a Euro qualifier match with Malta.
Record of visit vanishes from DOI and PBS archives
A Department of Information press release, which has since somehow disappeared from the DOI’s archives, reported the meeting had also dealt with SOCAR’s participation in the ElectroGas project and that Mizzi had been present.
Schembri, who is currently facing corruption and graft charges in court, can also be seen in the photograph.
That photograph and its accompanying press release – PR151952 – appear to have vanished from the DOI’s archives.
News of Abdullayev’s 6 September 2015 Castille meeting also appears to have been scrubbed from state broadcaster Television Malta’s website and Facebook page, which had once reported Abdullayev’s visit for the match.
Nor does a search result for ‘Abdullayev’ yield any results on either the DOI or TVM search engines. The news item and accompanying photograph are still present in the independent media outlets that reported the visit.
In April 2017, The Times of Malta had a Freedom of Information request asking for the number of times Mizzi met with Rovnag Abdullayev flatly rejected with the explanation that the information sought was “publicly present via official press releases”.
However, no official press release, at least as of today, is available.
Nor had there been any press releases on the secret December 2014 meeting Muscat and Mizzi had with SOCAR and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev when a dubious ‘memorandum of understanding on energy cooperation’ was signed.
Aliyev removed Abdullayev Sr from SOCAR last year and placed him in a less influential post as deputy economy minister.
In April, Aliyev gave a speech praising “active reforms” and “new management” that would help SOCAR become a “transparent international energy company”.
When asked recently about alleged corruption in SOCAR, Rovnag Abdullayev told reporters: “I have no information and no interest in connection with the assumptions. The accusations against me are not true.”
Evidence removed. Leaving no stone unturned to remove all evidence. Cauchi’s files were removed and then his wife was kept under arrest by the present speaker then police investigator. No comments.
You can either denounce corrupt leadership or eradicate all memory and record of it. The night Muscat left, deals were made.
Why do you think Muscat took 3 months to leave? Why was he touring all the money laundering banks in the world with the family for the signatures. Why was he travelling with Diplomatic Immunity around the world? What was he carrying in his luggage , dirty underwear or dirty documents? Having diplomatic baggage he could carry anything and everything. They will not repeat Lorry Sant’s mistake of thrusting his friends with his money. Not unless the friends not are under his thumb.
Unfortunately AND obviously, the disgraced Muscat is STILL pulling the government strings and Abela dances to his tunes.
A mountain of incriminating evidence but no will for Justice to prevail.
Democracy is seriously at stake in Malta. The seemingly close ties to the Mafia absolutely not being investigated seriously.
Well done PL and it’s close advisors and Lobby groups.
THESHIFTNEWS – l-unika aġenzija tal-aħbarijiet indipendenti – jiġifieri li tiddependi għalkollox fuq fondi esterni u donazzjonijiet – f’Malta. L-unika aġenzija tal-aħbarijiet li tikxef il-qoħob tal-gvern tagħna minkejja kull kurrent. Ix-xogħol tagħkom jiswa mitqlu deheb.
All this corrupt business between Socar Trading, the Azerbaijani ruling elite and the Mafia mob in the OPM using offshore companies and buying expensive property in London, UK (not forgetting a similar property that Brian Tonna bought using his Willerby Trading account at Pilatus Bank) is all part of the Azerbaijani Laundromat scheme, observing how Azerbaijan is acting as a PROXY in aiding the Iran regime in dodging sanctions.
Malta is in deep shit and the major problem with Pilatus Bank is going to continue being a ‘black’ cloud over this country.
in deep shit it is and in deep shit will remain until the muvument korrot stays in power.
In life some are criminals and some are crooks.
When was this PR151952 issued? Date. It might be found in the local newspapers archives?
enriched the Azerbaijani elite during the years in which Abdullayev was in charge.
enriched the maltese elite and people of trust in which the MOST CORRUPT pm MALTA EVER HAD was in charge. Mafiamalta at its worst.
https://daphnecaruanagalizia.com/2017/05/start-muscats-corrupt-relationship-azerbaijan/ We will never forget. the only time I contacted her, was when I saw an Azerbaijani plane parked hidden at the bottom of the airport..She thanked me and said yeah i know