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HOTELS in Montenegro owned by the daughter of the President of Azerbaijan! The government gave 737 million euros!


The ultimate owners of Azmont Investments, which is building the Portonovi luxury complex in Kumbor, are the daughters of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, Arza and Leila, as well as his father-in-law Arif Pashayev, and the text shows through offshore companies, they launder stolen money, circumvent the law and rob the budget.

Frequent changes in the plans enabled the Government to build twice as many square meters, villas and apartments for sale, but the rental price for one of the most beautiful spaces on the Adriatic remained in euros per square meter.

On the eve of the tender and later, the state leadership often traveled to Baku. Aco and Ana Đukanović, as well as Bemaks from Podgorica, have business connections with one of the biggest investments.

This ownership structure of one of the largest investments in Montenegro is indicated by the information obtained by the Center for Investigative Journalism of Montenegro (CIN-CG) through a labyrinth of state and offshore companies and banks.

The Government of Montenegro has provided significant privileges to the owners of the Portonovi project in Kumbor from the very beginning. According to Azmont, the investment in which 737,4 million euros were invested by the end of August this year, including VAT, was awarded to the Azerbaijani state oil company SOCAR in 2012, although for the 90-year lease of one of the most attractive plots on the coast. was a military complex for decades, offered half less than the American consortium NCH, and did not meet the tender condition that it must be a reputable operator of tourist complexes of 4 + or five stars.

SOCAR offered euros per square meter per year, a fixed five percent profit and an investment of 258 million euros in eight years. The NCH consortium offered two euros per square meter, 5,1 percent profit and an estimated investment of 200 million euros, with the investment program specifying investments of 90 million euros.

Although the price of the lease was one of the important items, the Tender Commission of the Privatization Council decided for the Azerbaijanis. The president of the Tender Commission was the then Minister of Tourism Predrag Sekulic, and the head of the Privatization Council was the then Prime Minister Igor Luksic.

The government then changed the plans for this location several times and enabled twice as much construction as originally planned, as well as a change in the structure, with more apartments, villas and business premises, and there is no anti-corruption clause in the contract, which, according to CIN interlocutors CG, casts a serious shadow on this business.

Azmont did not answer how many facilities have been completed so far, and they previously announced that in addition to 214 housing units, there will be about 30 different retail stores within the resort. Azmont did not answer how many properties they sold and who the buyers were.

Representatives of investors did not agree to a meeting with the authors of this research. Since the resort is open to visitors, they saw in Kumbor that an entire small town grew up on an area of ​​26 hectares along 1800 meters of coastline.

A hotel of the One & Only brand has not been opened yet, a marina, villas and apartment buildings, with landscaped driveways, fountain squares and modern parks, whose luxury is further emphasized by the nearby modest buildings inhabited by locals. There are also boutiques, restaurants, bars, antique shops, galleries, supermarket…

Present machines and workers indicate that work is still being done, but it is clear that not much is left. According to the contract, the investor is allowed phase construction, and the completion of works is planned during the first eight years of the lease, ie this year. The main contractor is Picaroti Montenegro, registered in Herceg Novi, a subsidiary of the Swiss company of the same name.

Although there were practically no ties with Azerbaijan before, this country suddenly became an interesting destination and a partner of the state leadership a decade ago. Before and after the deal with SOCAR was concluded in July 2012, the highest officials of Montenegro were frequent guests of Aliyev, whose country is suspected of non-transparent business internationally. The then President of Montenegro Filip Vujanovic was on an official visit in September 2011. In December of the same year, the current Montenegrin president traveled as the head of the DPS Milo Đukanović, and with him his current adviser, then chief of diplomacy Milan Roćen. At the NATO summit in May 2012, the then Prime Minister Igor Luksic met with Aliyev in Chicago.

Luksic traveled to Baku immediately after signing the land lease agreement in Kumbor. Djukanovic later visited Azerbaijan two more times as prime minister, and Vujanovic five more times as president.

When asked by CIN-CG, Vujanovic and Luksic answered that they were on official visits and that they did not have personal business with anyone from Azerbaijan. Djukanovic's cabinet did not answer the reason for the visit, or whether he or Rocen have business ties and interests with Azerbaijan.

Members of Djukanovic's closest family are connected to the business in Kumbor. The Republic Institute for Urbanism and Design (RZUP), which is majority owned by his younger brother Aca, oversees the investment and prepares reports for parliament. RZUP won the job at the tender, and the investor should pay him 142,8 thousand euros for that.

President's sister Ana Djukanovic, through her law office, performed legal affairs for Azmont Bank. Although both the RZUP and the Azerbaijanis hide confidential information about who performs the work and performs other tasks, the Podgorica-based company Bemaks, which is publicly attributed to its closeness to Milan Rocen, announced on its website that it had contracted a deal for 61,5 million euros. Bemax is an indispensable contractor in all major investments, including the largest - the highway section.

After the contract doubled squares

The tender for the lease of the former military complex of 242 thousand square meters with 90 facilities out of a total of 62 thousand square meters, was announced on September 14, 2011 with a deadline for bids until March 15, 2012.

SOCAR was selected as the most favorable bidder in April 2012. The agreement was signed on July 10th by then-Tourism Minister Predrag Sekulic and SOCAR representative Gafar Gurbanov. He was the executive director of Azmont in 2012 and 2013, as well as the director of the offshore company Triangle Investment, which bought the tender documentation for SOCAR. In the British register of companies, he is listed as a director of several other offshore companies.

Prior to the signing of the contract, a public debate was held on the draft planning document for Kumbor (location study), which provided for the construction of about 75 thousand square meters of gross floor area at the barracks, half of which was hotel facilities and the rest exclusive housing. with accompanying facilities, such as catering, trade). The final study of the location states that "the financial market projection showed that the investment in such a low capacity (800 users) can be financially sustainable only if 50 percent of the space capacity is in high category hotels and 50 percent in exclusive housing."

After the Government and the Assembly approved the lease agreement on July 26, 2012, the Azerbaijanis were able to build twice as much, 100 square meters of tourist facilities (including hotel accommodation) and 45 square meters for luxury apartments, shops, catering, cultural and other facilities, as well as the previously contracted marina with 250 berths.

Higher construction and profit were not accompanied by an increase in the rental price

The state study of the location "Sector 5" - Kumbor was changed again in 2014. It was possible to build an additional five thousand gross square meters, but by changing the structure, the square footage for apartments, villas, shops and restaurants was doubled.

Former member of the parliamentary commission for control and monitoring of the privatization process, Mladen Bojanic, says for CIN-CG that the change of planning documents after the sale of state property is a red light that indicates the possibility of corruption.

"There were frequent conversions, as well as an increase in the degree of space utilization. All this affects, primarily the sale price of land, and at a later stage the size and value of buildings… Portonovi is just one example of how the state has consciously renounced its authority., said Bojanic.

For legal advisor at the NGO Action for Human Rights Ines Mrdović, it is problematic that there is no anti-corruption clause in the agreement with SOCAR, provided for in a series of documents of the EU and the Council of Europe.

"When you lease for an incredible 90 years, behind which the sale of the site is hidden, and the volume of investments is measured in hundreds of millions of euros, the least the authorities need to do is to best protect state interests, including the anti-corruption clause." attitude towards public resources and citizens ", Mrdovic told CIN-CG.

Related companies and classified information

Azmont founded five subsidiaries in Montenegro, and in 2016 a bank. It was initially called Azmont, then Nova banka, and now Adriatic banka. They performed legal affairs through the law office of Ana Đukanović.

In July 2019, Azmont sold Nova Banka to Adriatic Capital LLC of the United States for 7,1 million euros. According to unofficial information from banking circles, they did that because they could not find a correspondent bank for foreign payment transactions.

According to the CRPS, the new owners of the bank are Alexander Schneider (80 percent) and David Genezov (20 percent).

Schneider is the co-founder and president of the Midland Group, which was given by the government to run the Niksic Ironworks from mid-2004 to the end of 2005, when it left the factory under unspecified circumstances and owed 2,7m euros in taxes.

Midland was also legally represented in Montenegro by Ana Đukanović.

When asked by CIN-CG why they gave their consent for Nova banka to be bought by an investor who proved to be unbelievable in Željezara, the CBM answered that he submitted the prescribed and additionally required documentation, evidence of reported or paid tax for the last three years. mentioning the 2,7 million-euro debt from the Ironworks.

The other owner of Adriatic Bank is Genec's Plastic Surgery Group from Dallas.

The CBCG refused to provide CIN-CG with a consent document for the sale of Nova Banka, arguing that it was confidential.

Everyone in Baku

DPS Chief Milo Đukanović and Minister of Foreign Affairs Milan Roćen paid a working visit to the Republic of Azerbaijan from 21 to 23 December 2011 at the International Conference "Modernization Policy - New Economic and Social Challenges", according to the website of the Cultural and Economic the center of Azerbaijan and Montenegro.

Djukanovic visited Azerbaijan two more times as prime minister.

After the first official visit in September 2011, the President of Montenegro Filip Vujanović traveled to 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017. His daughter Nina Vujanovic was at the Global Forum of Young Leaders in Baku in August 2017, and his wife Svetlana visited the country in September 2017 with a delegation from the Supreme Court led by President Vesna Medenica.

In addition to the fence from Vujanovic's office that "the former president of Montenegro absolutely never had any business relationship with anyone from Azerbaijan or any other country," the former president was referred to on his website about the reasons for the visit. Among other things, it states that in December 2013, he participated in the conference on the Shah Deniz 2 gas pipeline, where a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Montenegro, Azerbaijan, Albania and Croatia on cooperation in building a gas corridor in those countries.

Vujanovic recently sent a letter of support to Aliyev over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, stating "that he received with great sadness and concern the news of repeated violations of peace and the killing of innocent people."

When asked by CIN-CG whether he sent such a letter to the President of Armenia, Vujanovic's office said that he always expressed respect for the position from the UN Security Council resolutions, which indicated the need for a peaceful solution, in relation to the decades-long conflict.

The secret of who the consultants are for 12 million euros

Azmont told CIN-CG that they had invested 2019 million euros by the end of 637,5, but RZUP data show that around 543,8 million euros were invested in the same period. The Central Bank presented investments from Azerbaijan only for 2016 and 2017, a total of 113 million euros, while those for 2012 were declared secret. Azmont says they invested 11,1m euros that year. At that time, 10.868.490 euros of rent was paid for the first 45 years, while Azmont now sells villas with an area of ​​598 to 659 square meters, at a price of up to 9,46 million euros.

In 2019, Azerbaijanis invested 213,9 million, in 2018 92,4 million, in 2017 5,7 million, and in the period 2012-2016. about 183,7 million, according to data from the RZUP, which was selected for tender in the tender.

Oversight was requested by parliament in 2016, as the first investment report of 92m euros for 2013, 2014 and seven months of 2015 was adopted by the government based on investor data.

Azmont explains that they filled the difference between the amount registered by the CBM and the one spent according to their and RZUP's reports, "from investments (which includes the capital and loans of the founders) and the company's operating income".

"The primary source of funding, as seen in the available public reports, is investment.", they said from Azmont, noting that they are registered in Montenegro.

According to RZUP reports, of the 543,8 million euros invested, 445,8 million relate to work performed, 53,7 million to design, and 12,3 million to consulting services.

When asked by CIN-CG with whom they signed consulting contracts, Azmont answered that "they reserve the right not to comment on commercially sensitive information". The RZUP referred to the obligation to keep confidential data.

The Sector of the Police Directorate for the Prevention of Money Laundering did not answer the questions of CIN-CG whether they checked the investments from Azerbaijan and whether there were suspicious transactions.

Oil company, then offshore

Aliyev has been in power since 2003. Since then, his wealth, according to available information, has been growing at an incredible rate and he is estimated to be one of the richest presidents in the world at the moment. It was proclaimed by the OCCRP network of investigative journalists "Man of the Year in Crime and Corruption" for 2012. Three years later, that infamous title went to the current Montenegrin president Milo Djukanovic, who was included in the 20 richest rulers of the world by the British Independent much earlier.

Reputable international organization that deals with the fight against corruption Transparency International In 2013, it marked Azerbaijan as a country where corruption has increased, and that country was on the EU black list in 2018, due to money laundering.

SOCAR was in Azmont’s ownership structure until 2017, when it was fully taken over by Azerbaijan Global Investment (AGI). Data from the Central Registry of Business Entities of Montenegro, the Turkish Stock Exchange and reports from banks related to the Aliyev family show that the daughters of the President of Azerbaijan are behind AGI, and their grandfather Arif Pashayev has a smaller share.

Although the oil company left the business in Kumbor, it is still current in Montenegro. SOCAR is mentioned in the Možura affair as the ultimate owner of the offshore company Cifidex, whose transactions began to be investigated by the Special State Prosecutor's Office in August. In December 2015, Cifidex paid about 3,5 million euros to the Spanish company Fersa and the company Celebic for the Montenegrin company Mozura Wind Park, which manages the construction of a wind farm on the hill of the same name near Ulcinj, and sold it to the Maltese state company Enemalta two and a half months later. for 11,3 million euros. Maltese has been investigating corruption in this business journalist Daphne Caruana Galicia who was killed.

According to the report of the American Ministry of Justice, SOCAR is also connected with the Czech businessman Viktor Kozeni involved in the mass bribery scheme of high state officials in Azerbaijan, in order to gain a significant share in this company.

PHOTO: Financial Report of the Georgian Branch of Pasha Bank, which shows the owners

On July 11, 2012, the day after the signing of the lease agreement for the complex in Kumbor, the company Saiph Holding BV and its owner Cooperatief Saiph Holding UA were registered. The owner of the latter, meaning both, was SOCAR.

The next day, SOCAR in Montenegro established Azmont investments and transferred lease rights to it without the consent of the Government, which was enabled by the contract, which was confirmed for CIN-CG by the Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism. In December of the same year, free of charge, SOCAR transferred ownership of Azmont to Saiph Holding BV.

In July 2014, the Azerbaijani PSG Resort acquired 80 percent of ownership in Cooperatief Saiph Holding by subscribing shares, while SOCAR retained 20 percent. The full owner of PSG Resort is AGI, which was founded in October 2013 in Baku.

AGI provided loans for the construction of Portonovo and thus at the beginning of 2017 became the 2017% owner of Azmont. At the end of 2018, eight percent of Azmont was acquired by Arm International from the United Arab Emirates, which is owned by Saiph Holding BV, but as early as the beginning of XNUMX, AGI was again the full owner.

When AGI entered Azmont’s ownership structure in late 2015, its owners were the Azerbaijani companies Ataholding (33 percent), Synergy Group (32 percent) and Pasha Development (35 percent). Behind Ataholding were three companies based in the Seychelles and Panama, Sunergy was owned by two individuals, and Pasha Development is part of Pasha Holding.

According to a statement from the Tax Administration from July 2018, in the meantime, Pasha Development (99 percent) and Pasha Investment (one percent) became the owners of AGI. There are no new data on changes in ownership in the Tax Administration. These companies are owned by Pasha Holding, which owns 60 percent of Azerbaijan's Pasha Bank. The company Ador has 30 percent in the bank, and 10 percent is in the hands of Ali's father-in-law.

Pasha Bank has branches in Georgia and Turkey. The financial report of the Georgian branch for 2019 and 2020 shows that the ultimate owners of the mother bank are the president's daughters Lejla and Arza (45 percent each) and their grandfather Arif Pashayev (10 percent).

According to Georgian regulations, the ownership structure must include individuals who receive direct income, and not the legal entities that are the founders, so the ownership relationship in Pasha Holding and Ador was revealed. Instead of answering the question of who the ultimate owners are, Azmont referred to "publicly available documents and reports".