Baku to thwart anti-Azerbaijani fundraising campaigns by the Armenian diaspora

December 15, 2021 2:33 p.m. (UTC+04:00)

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By Vugar Khalilov

Baku pledged to continue to thwart Armenian fundraising campaigns directed against Azerbaijan’s sovereignty.

In a statement posted on its website on December 14, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said: “Azerbaijan will continue its determined work within all international platforms to expose and prevent fundraising campaigns organized by organizations of the Armenian Diaspora against the sovereignty of Azerbaijan in various countries”.

The ministry issued the statement in reaction to the 9th session of the Conference of States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which is being held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, from December 13-17.

On December 14, the Prosecutor General of Azerbaijan, Kamran Aliyev, addressed the virtual event “Abuse of fundraising activities for corruption and other criminal purposes”, which was organized in part of the session.

Aliyev noted that fundraising activities by non-profit organizations and charitable foundations have played an important role in providing humanitarian aid to people in crisis.

He pointed out that however, the limited control of these activities eventually led them to be used for criminal purposes, such as corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing.

Aliyev pointed out that Azerbaijan also suffers from this problem, drawing attention to illegal fundraising campaigns organized by Armenian diaspora organizations during the 44-day war in 2020.

In addition, experts from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the European Center for Nonprofit Law (ECNL), the British NGO Greenacre and the Azerbaijani Monitoring Service Finance (FMS) held interactive discussions on the subject.

Addressing the event, a representative of the FMS noted that during the 44-day war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Armenian diaspora organizations operating abroad collected 170 million dollars, of which 110 millions of dollars were illegally transferred to the Armenian budget. This fact has been recognized by high-ranking Armenian officials, including the prime minister.

He added that the funds were fraudulently collected from citizens of different countries under the guise of humanitarian aid and transferred to the Armenian state budget.

Later, the amount collected was used to arm illegal armed groups previously deployed in the liberated territories of Azerbaijan, the FMS representative said.

Speakers stressed the need to develop special rules to prevent the abuse of fundraising campaigns organized by charitable foundations, the use of virtual currencies and the uncontrolled segment of the Internet by certain charitable organizations to finance activities criminals.

They pointed out that some banks and other financial institutions act as intermediaries in these activities.

The panel discussion was held in a hybrid format and UNODC Senior Officer Tim Steele delivered opening remarks at the event.

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