Do you want to be neighbors with public prosecutors? No problem: in a building constructed at the government’s expense for employees of the prosecutor’s office, it’s entirely possible to buy yourself an apartment for a reasonable price. From whom? From the Prosecutor General’s Office. You’ve just got have to have the cash!
In the town of Akhmedli, at the intersection of Ilgar Zulfigarov Street and Sadygjan Street, a seventeen-story building is being built. According to local residents, it has already been under construction for five or six years. This unfinished building even has a name: the “prosecutors’ building”. “Behind our home a building is being built for employees of the public prosecutor’s office. It looks very nice. The construction, begun in 2010, is on hold at the moment. They sell to average citizens as well, but it’s expensive. The cost per one square meter in an apartment with a view of the sea is 1000 manat, without a view of the sea it’s 700. The construction is going very slowly. And now work has stopped entirely, since last autumn”, say neighbors.
Now the work has stopped, there’s no money.
Neighbors have their objections to this project. The prosecutors’ building blocks the view of the sea from their apartments.
We took a walk around the building, but there was no information or notices of any kind regarding the construction company. We entered the incomplete building, but there was not one worker to be found. We saw just one person. We walked over to him. He said that the building is being constructed by Inter Inshaat Servis LLC.
“Work will start in the coming days. There’s no money now, work has halted. There are apartments up for sale. I can give you the number of the neighborhood police officer, you can talk with him. He’ll answer all your questions. The apartments are for the public prosecutor’s office, but they’re also selling to average citizens”. They began erecting this building after an order from President Ilham Aliyev. More precisely, in 2008 an order was signed on improving social security for employees of the public prosecutor’s office, as well as on provisions for civil employees.
According to the order, in 2009-20011 the goal was established of improving the living conditions for employees of the public prosecutor’s office. The order and the government program for modernizing the activities of the public prosecutor’s office, which covered 2009-2011, were published on the website of the Prosecutor General’s Office. After its adoption, the program was debated in the National Assembly. The deputies also touched on the topic of improving social conditions for employees of the public prosecutor.
The founder: Eldar Sultanov
In Khatai District, at the intersection of Ilgar Zulfaigarov Street and Sadygjan Street, a construction site was marked off. After this, on December 4, 2009, the Qayğı (Care) Housing and Construction Cooperative (HCC) was created. Eldar Sultanov, chief of the press service for the Prosecutor General’s Office, was elected head of the HCC by lottery. The website of the Ministry of Taxes indicates that Eldar Sultanov is the legal representative and one of the founders of the HCC.
The legal address is listed as the apartment where Fakhraddin Mamedov, current public prosecutor for the Barda District, is registered: Baku, Binagadi District, Javadkhan Street, bldg. 5, apt. 121.
The Qayğı HCC’s founders are: Mubariz Akhmedov (Assistant Prosecutor General, Councilor of Justice), Makhir Tagiyev (Doctor of Philosophy in the Legal Sciences, associate professor), Rashad Mansurov, Gazanfar Bayramly (Deputy Department Chief, Chief of the State Prosecutors’ Department of the Prosecutor General’s Office, Chief Councilor of Justice), Maarif Huseynov (Public Prosecutor or the Jabrayil District), and Fakhraddin Mamedov (Public Prosecutor for the Barda District).
An article published in the mass media says, “The Qayğı HCC has an account open at the International Bank of Azerbaijan and employees of the public prosecutor’s office who don’t have their own residence send 450-470 manat to this account each month. Moreover, 30 percent of the apartment’s cost had to be transferred in advance: “We had to pay this money. Since 2009 we have been paying for our apartment each month. But we still haven’t gotten it. We also can’t demand our money back. Those who ask get put on a ‘black list’”, says an employee of the public prosecutor, who asked to remain anonymous because of concerns about their own safety.”
We managed to get in touch with the spouse of a former employee of the public prosecutor (she also preferred to retain her anonymity), who said that they pay for an apartment each month. The last time, she brought around 4000 manat to the public prosecutor’s office.
The Qayğı HCC is selling apartments in a building that has yet to be completed. The sales were planned several years ago. An apartment in this building with an area of 136 square meters costs 95,000 manat. This is mentioned in the sales section of the website tap.az. One square meter of the apartment is valued at 650-700 manat. Registration completed at the Prosecutor General’s Office
According to the neighborhood police officer, who is part-time helping people who want to buy an apartment in this building, the apartments with a sea view are already sold:
“There are no three-room apartments with a sea view, there are only ones with a view of the city. The two-room ‘through’ apartments have a view on both sides. The area of a two-room apartment is 117 sq. m, of a three-room apartment: 137 sq. m. There are a total of 160 apartments, 110 public prosecutors took one, fifty were given to us: the construction company. You have to go to the Prosecutor General’s Office for registration. There’s an office there, you go through the registration process, pay them and receive your documents. There are no problems. Ten to twelve apartments are left.”
He also gave us the number of some person named Shakhin, saying that this is ‘our boss’: Shakhin Gafarov. “He’ll take you to the Prosecutor General’s Office. The building is being built by İnterstroyservis. You can come and look at the building at any time. They should turn over the completed building by the end of the year, well, or maybe with a month or two of delay”, said the neighborhood police officer.
Inter Inshaat Servis, or InterStroyServis?
We came across a legal document in the internet. A court case against Inter Inshaat Servis LLC on the basis of a suit by the Ministry of Taxes. The lawsuit speaks of both LLCs. An entity named InterStroyServis operates in the courtyard of Inter Inshaat Servis LLC. They have one and the same address: Khatai District, intersection of I. Zulfigarov Street and Sadygjan Street, bloc 2942 A – the same building as the public prosecutor’s office.
According to the registry of legal entities with the Ministry of Taxes, InterStroyServis LLC was registered on December 4, 2006. Its current legal representative is Imameli Eldar oglu Musayev [the former legal representative was Mazakhir Zokhrab oglu Mutallibov – author’s note]. The legal address is Baku, Narimanov District, Mesud Alizade Street 136, apt. 10. There is a ban on Imameli Musayev leaving the country because of unpaid taxes, and the company’s legal address doesn’t exist. More precisely, the building where the legal address was located was demolished some years ago, and the number of the last building on this street is 134. This was also confirmed via the hotline (1643) for the Narimanov District administration. The hotline employee said that Mesud Alizade Street is under the jurisdiction of Housing Bureau No. 32, and that there is no longer a building there. There was, at some point, but then it was demolished. The telephone numbers registered to this name now belong to someone else. Before the Prosecutor General’s Office, InsterStroyServis LLC was part of public purchase projects. The LLC primarily took orders from Azerbaijan Amelioration and Water Management and the Metro.
We build it, we sell it
The building’s construction is reflected in the State Program, which speaks of the construction of a 250-apartment building. The Prosecutor General’s tender announcement from 2009 speaks of the construction of a 160-apartment building. The Prosecutor General’s Office reacted to the publication of articles about the building in the mass media. It was noted that the Baku City Government allocated a 0.59 hectare plot of land at the intersection of Ilgar Zulfigarov Street and Sadygjan Street for the construction of a 17-story building of 208 apartments. Eldar Sultanov, chief of the press service for the public prosecutor’s office, told Meydan TV that the building is not being constructed using investors’ money, but rather the personal funds of employees of the public prosecutor’s office.
“No funds were allocated from the state budget. The building is being constructed at our expense, and this is our internal business. What is there to investigate?”
Sultanov confirmed that the building is being constructed by InerStroyServis LLC:
“This is not a secret. The building is being constructed by the company InsterStroyServis. The employees of the public prosecutor’s office formed a cooperative. A price was established per square meter, members of the cooperative are paying for apartments from their own wages, and the building is being constructed. One square meter costs 480 manat”.
An employee of the public prosecutor’s office says that when sold the prices vary.
The law doesn’t forbid it
The lawyer Khalid Bagirov noted that, in reality, the law doesn’t forbid members of the HCC from putting apartments in their building up for sale:
“The HCC is a legal entity and has full rights to be party to property relations, to sell, buy, perform services and make orders. However, the HCC, in contrast to other legal entities, unites members with a particular goal and can enter into property relations only with the agreement of its members. Taking into account that HCCs are created with the purpose of constructing buildings for their members, these associations can conclude contracts with contracting companies for the construction of the building. The companies should be paid a fee for these services. It might be beneficial for many members of the HCC if the project provides for more apartments than the members of the HCC need, and pays for itself. There is no legal problem with this. However, corruption might hide beneath this seemingly legal procedure. Some HCCs are created with the support of government agencies, and because of a lack of transparency in their creation and the choice of contracting companies, some officials might make use of the opportunity for laundering or making money”.
Eldar Sultanov says that they made this move because the apartments weren’t purchased by employees of the public prosecutor’s office: “By general assembly of the cooperative, we gave the construction company 50 of the 160 apartments. With particular conditions, naturally. I thus far haven’t voiced these conditions. The residences weren’t gifted. There is no sort of breach of law here. The plot of land allocated for construction of the building was given to the Prosecutor General’s Office by the Baku City Government for permanent use”.
Regarding the sale, the chief of the press service said that it’s not the public prosecutor’s office making the sales, but rather the Qayğı HCC.In the tender announced by the public prosecutor’s office the address of the HCC is Nigar Rafibeyli Street, 7. The public prosecutor’s office is located at this same address.
Hundreds of companies have debts
In the opinion of lawyer Khalid Bagirov, these issues should be handled by the trade unions for the government agencies which founded the HCC: “Their role is to provide material and technical assistance for the creation of an HCC. After establishment and registration HCCs become independent subjects in legal relations. The agencies which contributed to their creation cannot interfere in their activities. If he HCC agreed to give apartments in the building to the contracting company in exchange for services the contracting company has the right to dispose of these apartments.”
Speaking about InterStroyServis LLC’s tax debt, Eldar Sultanov, the founder of the Qayğı HCC, noted that hundreds of companies have debts: “I don’t even know Imameli Musayev. You can address any other questions to the company”.
InterStroyServis LLC lent the government 59,206 manat. The debts of InterStroyServis (14,003 manat) and Inter Inshaat Servis LLC (91,795 manat) have been written off via a decision by the Ministry of Taxes to grant amnesty.
“Usually everyone tries to avoid cooperation with commercial structures with an unstable financial situation. Such companies are considered unreliable for collaborative work. Commercial activity is a form of business in which entities act based on their fear and risk. The law doesn’t interfere in the choice of such relations. If they’re not a criminal, each person is free in their choice of cooperative business relations. Perhaps, in working with a company that has financial problems, somebody wants to create the conditions for improving their position. But questions come up in this situation as well”, notes the lawyer. “If the HCC found a contracting company and signed a contract with them, it means tha this was an official decision of the general assembly of members of the HCC. It’s entirely possible that the members of the HCC weren’t sufficiently informed about the contractor and that the members of the HCC participated only formally in choosing a contractor”.
According to Bagirov, if the apartments are sold at the public prosecutor’s office, then talk of a corruption scheme might come up: “That is to say, there exists some sort of connection between the contracting company and the government agency which assisted in creating the HCC.”
Authored by independent journalist Ayten Farkhadova