Not a single former national security minister left his post under such circumstances. On his eleventh anniversary as the minister of national security, Colonel-General Eldar Makhmudov was relieved of his duties. After his dismissal on October 17, 2015, some of Mahmudov’s managerial staff were arrested, and over 250 employees lost their jobs. The ministry was dissolved, and a criminal case was filed against it. The sculpture of Mahmudov’s late father was taken down in Nakhchivan.
The Ministry of Communications and Information Technologies met the same fate. The communications minister of communications was sacked, while some of his staff were detained or lost their jobs. Pro-government website dubbed the minister a “national threat” for eavesdropping on the first family’s private phone calls.
It is not clear why Eldar Mahmudov was not arrested himself, while his entourage is held behind the bars. Some media outlets claimed that Mahmudov’s health condition deteriorated significantly when he was summoned for intorregation. According to unconfirmed reports, the former minister was placed in a sanatorium instead.
Eldar Mahmudov's wife Tahira served as a secretary of the Azerbaijan Trade Unions Confederation since 2007. She is a member of the Confederation’s Assembly and Executive Committees. The moment her husband was dismissed, Tahira resigned from her job as well. Later on, the former minister’s relatives who held high-ranking positions were thrust into the spotlight as well. The moment the minister was dismissed, his relative Parvana Shafiyeva was fired from her position of a deputy head of the Drugs Expertise Department under the Ministry of Health. Another relative, Beytulla Huseynova, the head of the Baku Telephone Communication Production Association, was also terminated. Among relatives who lost their jobs is the former minsiter’s cousin, Police Colonel Ilgar Mahmudov, who served as the head of Sabail District Police Department.
Mahmudov’s sister Elmira Mahmudova is the head of the Consular Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. There is no information available at the moment regarding whether she currently holds this role.
The family’s businesses in Azerbaijan
Mahmudov has three children. His daughter Khuraman Mahmudova received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in finance in Switzerland. The youngest daughter, Nargiz Makhmudova, married the grandson of late President Heydar Aliyev’s brother, Rasim Aliyev, in September 2015.
His son Anar Mahmudov runs businesses in Turkey, Azerbaijan, Spain and Luxembourg. Anar launched his businesses around the same time as his father became the minister. Anar is the chairman of the board of directors at the investment company Caspian Crystal in Baku. The holding includes upscale restaurant chains, such as Beluga, Salvador Dali, Lord, VIP, and Velutto. The company also made a foray into the food market. Since 2007, they have opened Gastronomy-1, Gastronomy-2 and Gastronomy-3 stores. At the same time, the company was the first to open a boutique that offered a wide selection of expensive wines and other alcoholic drinks from around the world to Azerbaijan.
The wine cellar with a capacity of 18,000 bottles named Wine City also belongs to Caspian Crystak. The company worked closely with French designers to come up with its design. The wines, which were presented to elite enterprises, targeted primarily VIP clients. Due to the increased demand, the company opened another wine boutique named Wine City-2.
Crystal Motors, which sells luxury cars, is also part of the holding. “Our mission is to promote the best businesses in the food, beverages, restaurant and catering industries in the local market,” Anar Mahmudov says.
However, was the money used in these businesses obtained in a transparent way?
Anar Makhmudov is the founder and legal representative of Diqlas-1 LLC, as well as is the founder of the Crystal Construction LLC. Crystal Construction LLC was established in 2008, and Diqlas-1 LLC in 2010. Neither of these companies was identified in official Azerbaijani public procurement records.
Lucrative overseas businesses
Eldar Mahmudov’s family members also run lucrative businesses overseas.
On August 3, 2013, Mahmudov, still an incumbent minister at the time, became the board member of the Royals Tourism Construction Industry Trade. The company reportedly has an investment of 100,000 Turkish liras in Turkey’s markets. In the past, the company organized guided tours for tourists both in Turkey and abroad. Another investor and representative of the company is Aghamikail Ismailov.
Anar Makhmudov is also one of the partners of Deha Shirt Manufacturing Industry & Trade Co. Limited, also located in Turkey. Additionally, Makhmudov’s son servesd as the chairman of the board of Sınalco Real Estate and Consulting Services Inc.
Let’s now look at the companies in Spain. Anar Makhmudov owns four companies in Spain, including construction companies 22 Vaquer De Bendinat S.L. and Son Sana Portals S.L. The former has an authorized capital of 4.4 million euros. The company was established on March 31, 2015. Meanwhile, Son Sana Portals S.L. has a capital of 3,100 euros.
Another Spanish company belonging to Mahmudov, Macent Invest Group SL is worth over 19.5 million euros. The fourth company, Majorca Capas Group Investment SL, has an authorized capital of 11.8 million euros. Majorca’s principal activities include construction, procurement and real estate. The company was established on May 15, 2006. The company paid less than 2 million in taxes.
Mahmudov’s business ventures do not end here. He is also the director of Utılıcom and Konoco M, both companies registered in Luxembourg 2015. According to official records, Anar Mahmudov has not submited income declarations yet.
Questions left unasnwered
We inquired with Caspian Crystal regarding Anar Mahmudov’s sources of income, which allowed investing in companies in four jurisdictions. A lady who picks up the phone at the reception told us that Mahmudov did not work in that office. When pressed regarding Anar Mahmudov’s whereabouts, she said the following: “I don’t know where he is. We do not have his contact numbers. In general, we don’t see much of him. He doesn’t come to this office. I haven’t seen Anar Mahmudov since the day I started working here. I can’t say for sure how you can find him.”
We addressed a written request to the General Prosecutor about the nature of the Mahmudovs’ businesses abroad, but the request fell on deaf ears.
Eldar Mahmudov is silent too. Nineteen of his colleagues are behind bars, and over 250 employees lost their jobs along with him. However, Mahmudov himself is not facing any prosecution. The only change is a sentence amended on the Wikipedia page: “Eldar Mahmudov is preceded by Namig Abbasov. The positon was canceled.”