Parliament votes for business secrecy
The National Assembly of Azerbaijan has voted in a new law which will restrict public access to company records about registration, ownership and the shareholders of Azerbaijani companies.
The move comes after considerable media scrutiny of the ownership and holdings of members of President Aliyev’s family especially around the Eurovision Song Contest which took place in the country this year. A number of articles suggested conflicts of interest in some of the dealings.
With the new law, information will only be released to the courts, law enforcement agencies and the Central Bank when investigating money laundering or the financing of terrorist groups. Even then the consent of the owners of the companies must be obtained.
Only four of the 103 deputies present voted against the legislation. Civil Society groups have condemned the move saying that it favours the build-up of assets by the president’s family and friends which will lead to less scrutiny over corruption, reduced public oversight, more conflicts of interest and reduced foreign direct investment.