Jet set DJ – and cousin of Azerbaijani President Aliyev – accused of receiving millions of suspicious funds
“Mikaela Jav” has made a name for himself as a DJ, spinning infectious electronic beats on the Spanish island of Ibiza, long known for its vibrant nightlife. The host of the “Mikaela & Friends” parties, which started on Saturday evening in the summer of 2015, was also active on Facebook, where she posted sensual and jet-set photos in Greece, Thailand and Las Vegas.
In interviews with the Spanish press, DJ Mikaela spoke about her love for Ibiza, her musical inspiration and her life in Russia, which she described as her home.
In fact, OCCRP can reveal in this joint investigation with the British section of Transparency International that “Mikaela Jav” is Izzat Khanim Javadova, a cousin of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev. (Javadova’s stage name Mikaela is the name of her 22-year-old daughter).
In recent years, she and her husband, Suleyman Javadov, have been the target of a UK investigation into millions of pounds that the country’s National Crime Agency (NCA) suspects are the product of “corruption, theft or embezzlement”.
The existence of this investigation was revealed last year by the Evening Standard, who reported that an “Azerbaijani couple” had received £ 13.9million (nearly US $ 19.6million) from questionable origins.
The OCCRP found out earlier that the Ibiza-loving DJ and her husband were the couple in question, but were only able to reveal their names today, when the Evening Standard won a court appeal to lift the court’s anonymity order.
The Javadovs used a network of 20 dark companies based in predominantly offshore jurisdictions to receive the funds into their UK accounts, according to the NCA. As a result, the agency argued, the money flowed in a way that “would not necessarily imply a verifiable trail of bank transactions.”
NCA investigators identified six such companies as part of the Azerbaijani Laundromat, a multi-purpose financial vehicle revealed by OCCRP in 2017. The system allowed the country’s ruling elite to embezzle funds, avoid taxes, laundering money, paying bribes to MEPs, and moving illicit funds from Azerbaijan to the West, where they were used to buy property and finance lifestyles luxurious.
Leaked bank documents show that the six companies from which the Javadovs received the millions – along with a seventh identified by OCCRP but missed by investigators – were also involved in other questionable laundromat deals.
While previous surveys have shown that many high-profile Azerbaijanis use the laundromat, Javadova is the first known member of the ruling Aliyev family to do so.
President Ilham Aliyev has ruled the oil-rich Caucasus country with an iron fist for nearly two decades, and his tenure has been marked by massive violations of press freedoms and human rights. The Aliyev family also achieved enormous wealth during his reign.
Although Izzat Khanim Javadova and Suleyman Javadov are not prominent figures in Azerbaijan, her late father was an MP and her father was deputy minister of energy until last year.
Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences
Suleyman Javadov with his daughters at a funeral event for his wife’s father, Jalal Aliyev.
His father’s stance made Javadov a “Politically Exposed Person,” or PEP, which should have brought him under further scrutiny under anti-money laundering regulations. But Javadov told Britain’s Coutts bank, where he opened an account, that he “was not related to the Deputy Minister of Energy, and was just a namesake,” according to the investigation. the NCA.
The explanation of the sources of their income that the Javadovs gave to the bank also does not match what they told the ANC. Investigators found that Izzat Khanim told the bank that she would receive rental income from an Azerbaijani real estate company.
But court documents say the amount the Javadovs received is “well over double the turnover of their rental income,” as their UK bank was told.
The couple produced 250 documentary leases and management contracts to justify money transfers from two of the 20 companies. Together, these two transferred $ 2.4 million between 2015 and 2018, according to court documents.
But the NCA stressed in court that the dates of the agreements do not match the transfers, with a management agreement dated after the transactions took place. Additionally, prosecutors questioned the validity of Javadov’s signature on this contract, as well as the purpose of using offshore companies.
“No explanation has been provided as to why a Scottish or Irish LP or Seychellois company should be used to manage property in Azerbaijan using a bank account in Estonia (or Latvia)”, they wrote in court, referring to the various couple companies used.
NCA investigators also noted that none of the 20 companies in question are based in Azerbaijan and are therefore unlikely to be tenants of the Javadov’s properties. Moreover, none of the payments appear to come directly from Azerbaijan.
According to the NCA, the Javadovs “knew that what they were receiving did not come from their tenants but from an illegal intermediary organization designed to launder money.”
“The amounts received appear, based on the evidence, to be significantly higher than the rents likely to have been generated (at Manats) by their portfolio of properties in Azerbaijan,” they said in court documents. “It is more likely that they are simply the beneficiaries of payments made by or on behalf of their powerful relations in Azerbaijan.”
The Javadovs also did not provide any explanation for the other 18 companies and denied knowing them. This seems contradictory, given that Suleyman Javadov told a bank in 2012 and 2013 that three of the companies were brokerage firms he did business with, according to documents obtained by the NCA.
British investigators did not investigate whether the Javadovs had legitimate sources of income in Azerbaijan, saying it was beyond the scope of their investigation. But while it “seems likely that they have rental income” and “access to significant wealth,” investigators said, funds transferred to the Javadovs’ UK accounts were likely not income from property.
“The question for the court is whether the funds received in the UK come from another (more immediate) source and were obtained through illegal behavior,” investigators argued.
The appeal will be made by a judge, who will determine how to handle the £ 6.5million ($ 9.2million) that has remained in the Javadov’s bank accounts and has been frozen by the NCA. Hearings on the case begin in July.