Baku Formula-1 operating company head faces embezzlement charges

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The trial of Chingiz Mehdiyev, former head of the Sports Operations Department of the Baku City Ring Operating Company (BCCOC), has commenced, with allegations of embezzling 400,000 AZN during the organization of the annual Formula-1 competitions in Baku.

The case is being heard by a panel of judges at the Baku Court of Serious Crimes, chaired by Leyla Asgarova-Mammadova, alongside members Novruz Karimov and Rasim Sadikhov.

During the preparatory meeting on April 3, it was revealed that Chingiz Mehdiyev, born in 1975, is Russian-speaking and requires an interpreter for court proceedings due to his educational background. Mehdiyev, placed under police custody during the investigation period, faces charges under various criminal offenses, including embezzlement, abuse of official authority, and forgery of position.

Despite the severity of the accusations, Mehdiyev remains under police custody at home, with the prosecutor seeing no necessity to alter this preventive measure. During the court session, neither the prosecutor, Mehdiyev’s defense team, nor the representative of the Baku City Ring Operating Company contested the submission of the case to court for further investigation.

Mehdiyev’s defense lawyer emphasized his client’s denial of the charges and stressed the importance of an impartial investigation. The Baku City Ring Operating Company, formerly known as Baku Grand Prix, is identified as the victim in this case, established in 2013 for the organization of Formula-1 events.

The allegations against Mehdiyev involve diverting funds allocated for the Formula-1 competitions to accounts associated with family members, including a driver and a company linked to Mehdiyev’s ex-wife, Leyla Aliyeva. Investigations reveal substantial amounts transferred to accounts in Georgia and Estonia, with total embezzlement summing up to 397,852 AZN.

It was Mehdiyev’s other ex-wife, Narmina Akbarova, who reportedly informed law enforcement about the embezzlement, following their divorce in 2023. Despite Akbarova’s allegations, Mehdiyev maintains his innocence, refuting the claims and denying any wrongdoing, including the alleged purchase of properties in the United States using embezzled funds.

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