‘Laundromat’ couple hand over £4m after Evening Standard win
A millionaire DJ and her husband have handed £4 million to the National Crime Agency after accepting that the money was brought into Britain unlawfully via the Azerbaijan “laundromat”.
Izzat Khanim Javadova, who performs as the DJ Mikaela Jav, and her husband Suleyman Javadov forfeited their savings in four Santander accounts after declining to contest law enforcers’ allegations that the money in them had been channelled into the banks via “concealment” using a complex web of offshore transactions using 21 companies that amounted to money laundering.
They have held on to more than £2 million in six other accounts, including three at the Queen’s bank Coutts, however, after the NCA agreed not to pursue the money as part of a deal to bring the lengthy and expensive litigation to a close.
Announcing the settlement on Monday, Jonathan Hall QC, for the NCA, said:
- The four accounts being forfeited were all held by Mr Javadov and had come via the Azerbaijan laundromat.
- Shell companies were used to move the money whose only purpose was to “conceal” the origin of those funds and that on the balance of probabilities the money coming into those companies was criminal”.
- Although the money being handed over was less than the £6.4 million frozen in the couple’s accounts the NCA had to balance the cost and risk of trying to pursue the rest of the money, even though the source of it was similar to that in the forfeited accounts.
- Securing £4 million was an “important and significant” success.
- “The monies into these 4 accounts came from series of shell companies,”
- “These shell companies played no other role than to disguise and hide origins of money coming to them; on the balance of probabilities the money coming to them was criminal and money laundered by those companies.
- “So far as the other monies are concerned, the NCA will not pursue these, or any other currently known assets of the Javadovs.
- “It is correct that the monies in other accounts are similar in nature. But there are always risks with litigation, and delays, and costs. That means that the NCA has looked at the bigger picture. Taking £4m of recoverable money out of the system on the basis that they came through the Azerbaijani laundromat, is a significant and important move.
James Lewis QC, for Mr Javadov and Ms Javadova, said:
- His clients accepted that the money in the four accounts had come via the laundromat but made no admission of wrongdoing.
District Judge Vanessa Baraitser approved the settlement, saying:
- That the couple had used a “money laundering scheme” by moving money via the laundromat and that justified its forfeiture.
Despite the NCA’s portrayal of the settlement as a success, the £4 million forfeited by the Javadovs is about £10 million short of the £14 million that the agency originally alleged had been brought into the country by the couple using the laundromat.
Much of that money had already left the couple’s bank accounts and was not being targeted in Monday’s court action, which was conducted using account forfeiture legislation.
No official explanation has been given for what happened to it, although the couple have bought four multi-million pound London properties that they own mortgage free.
Monday’s settlement follows the removal last week of a court anonymity order that been protecting the pair after a two year battle by the Evening Standard to make public details of the case.
This paper’s efforts led to the earlier disclosure that companies linked to the laundromat including Baktelekom, Hilux and Polux were among those involved in moving money into the pair’s accounts in “very big” cash transfers totalling around £500 million for supposed steel exports, which the National Crime Agency alleged were fake transactions.
Crosspark Lines, a Scottish and Irish registered company linked to the Azerbaijan laundromat, has also been named during court proceedings as involved in moving money to the couple.
Ms Javadova is the cousin of Azerbaijan’s ruler Ilham Aliyev and the daughter of a former Azerbaijan MP Jalal Aliyev, the former ruler’s brother. She came to London at least ten years ago and was given a visa by the Home Office because of her wealth.
She set up a London company called Love the Underground Records and performed as the DJ Mikaela Jav at dance parties it staged in London and Ibiza.
Ms Javadova’s husband Suleyman is the son of Azerbaijan’s former deputy energy minister, Gulmammad Suleyman Javadov.
The pair had claimed via court papers submitted by their lawyers that they have extensive wealth from a vast property empire in Azerbaijan which includes hotels, a “massive” shopping mall in Baku and their country’s “leading vodka, cognac and champagne factory”, as well as many rental properties.
They also claimed that their wealth was inherited from past generations and that they were “upstanding” members of society in both London, where they wanted to settle, and Azerbaijan, but until Monday’s settlement were facing a ten day forfeiture court hearing to seize nearly £6.5 million in ten accounts held by one or other of them at Coutts, Barclays, Lloyds, Metro Bank and Santander.
The National Crime Agency had previously told Westminster Magistrates court that it believed the true source of the money was corruption, theft or embezzlement and that the couple knew they were moving it into London via unlawful means.
- “The NCA’s argument is that … they knew that what they were receiving did not come from their tenants but from an unlawful intermediary organisation designed to launder money,” earlier court documents stated.
- “The court will be invited to infer from the evidence that [the Javadovs] have used the services of the “Azerbaijani Laundromat” to receive, into their UK accounts, substantial sums over the period 2007 to 2018.
- “The gross amount transferred [was] £13.8 million over 6 years 8 months.”
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