Accountants behind analysis of Azerbaijani Laundromat point to latest revelations as proof of the importance of forensic expertise

It was recently revealed that Conservative Party donor Javad Marandi was a person of interest in the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) investigation into the so-called “Azerbaijani Laundromat”.

Although this business leader’s identity had previously been protected by anonymity via the courts, the BBC has won a legal battle to reveal his identity.

While Mr Marandi stringently denies any wrongdoing and has faced no criminal sanctions, the NCA has said he was a person of interest as companies linked to Mr Marandi played a crucial part in the Azerbaijani Laundromat.

In an earlier trial concerning this international money laundering case, Milsted Langdon’s forensic accountancy team held a pivotal role in providing forensic analysis which assisted the NCA in reaching a settlement in respect of unexplained wealth orders.

Those making use of the Laundromat, which operated between 2012 and 2014, would move money into the UK via a complex network of shell companies that operated bank accounts in Estonia and Latvia, a process known as layering.

Some of these transfers were accompanied by documents, including invoices and contracts, purporting to support legitimate and very substantial business transactions.

A number of cases have been brought against various individuals involved in this money laundering scheme, with tens of millions of pounds seized by the NCA as a result of their investigations and prosecutions.

Helen Gregory, Forensic Director at Milsted Langdon and Chair of the Network of Independent Forensic Accountants, said: “Details continue to emerge about new individuals apparently involved in this complex, global money laundering operation.

“Uncovering the various links between this scheme, businesses and individuals has required significant forensic analysis of many dozens of bank accounts and company records in order to assist the courts.”

The Government has inevitably faced questions about its approach to money laundering as a result of this latest revelation, but it has insisted that it is tackling “dirty money” being brought into the UK.

In a statement to the press, Mr Marandi’s spokesperson also said: “At no point has Mr Marandi been investigated or questioned by the authorities. And no case has ever been brought against him or his businesses in relation to these or any other matters, anywhere in the world.

“He was not the subject of this civil claim, nor a party nor a witness, meaning no evidence could be submitted on his behalf or representations made. It is therefore unjust to be named, without having had the fundamental right to rebut these false findings.

“As such, Mr Marandi is deeply disappointed at the court’s decision to lift reporting restrictions, knowing the reputational damage that is likely to follow.”

Reflecting on the impact of the Azerbaijani Laundromat on many of the accused, Helen added: “Those involved in serious cases of money laundering or financial impropriety can be caught up innocently through the actions of people associated with themselves and their business.

“So just as the NCA has relied on the expertise of forensic accountants and expert witnesses in cases related to the Azerbaijani Laundromat, so can defendants looking to prove their innocence or ignorance of their involvement in these schemes.”

To find out more about Milsted Langdon’s forensic accountancy services, please click here.

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