Azerbaijani Prosecutor General warns website over interview with jailed banker

In the interview, former chairman of IBA harshly criticized Finance Minister Samir Sharifov

On 27 September, the Azerbaijani Prosecutor-General’s Office

issued a warning

to Heydar Hashimov (also known as Heydar Oghuz), the editor-in-chief of

, over an interview with Jahangir Hajiyev, the convicted former chairman of the board of the International Bank of Azerbaijan (IBA).

“Heydar Hashimov, the editor-in-chief of, published an interview with Jahangir Hajiyev, who is serving a prison term,” said a statement released by the Prosecutor General. “The publication of the interview is detrimental to the ongoing investigation of the criminal case….against Jahangir Hajiyev and other people.”

The Prosecutor General’s Office stresses that the editor-in-chief of was “chasing after a sensation” and his actions are contrary to the requirements of Azerbaijan’s Criminal Procedural Code and law “On mass media.”

Heydar Hashimov was invited to the Prosecutor General’s Office, where he was officially warned that he could face criminal prosecution if he acted in violation of the requirements of the law “On the prosecutor’s office” in the future.



, titled “Shocking Accusations From a Former Banker,” was published by on 25 September. In his interview, Jahangir Hajiyev severely criticizes Azerbaijan’s finance and banking system and primarily the activities of Finance Minister Samir Sharifov. The interview had been conducted in the course of Hajiyev’s trial, and its publication was postponed several times.

The former chairman of the IBA, Jahangir Hajiyev,

was arrested

on 5 December 2015. He and seven other defendants in the criminal case were charged with stealing a total of more than 211 million manats (about $138 million) from the IBA. On 14 October 2016, Jahangir Hajiyev was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Here are some excerpts from Jahangir Hajiyev’s interview:

“Thousands of business people who owe banks, and even members of their families are banned from leaving this country. Pre-trial detention centers and prisons are packed with entrepreneurs.

“It has become perfectly normal for someone’s business to be taken away from them…If you take a look at the statistics, you will see that in these kinds of cases they don’t use against the business owners only the articles of the Criminal Code related to fraud or misappropriation of property and money. In addition, they also charge them with crimes like possession of drugs or even weapons. Many of them are held in custody without an investigation and trial until ‘the matter is clarified’…”

“Whether Finance Minister Samir Sharifov is an agent working for an intelligence service is subject to investigation by relevant authorities. A former KGB officer in his interview mentions specific facts, company names and banking transactions…

“When assessing how professional the minister’s performance is, we can see that he has no economic, finance or banking education. While working in the Central Bank, he was only notable for authoring one project – the inter-bank payment system AZIPS. Under this payment system, even manat-denominated domestic payments had to be run through the international system SWIFT, for some reason. According to foreign media, that system is under the control of foreign intelligence. Imagine all payments first going abroad and then coming back to this country, regardless of the amount (even 10 manats [$5.90], for example)…”

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