Leaked records from Credit Suisse, the second-largest bank in Switzerland, have revealed the secret holdings of political figures from around the world, including the sons of Nakhchivan head Vasif Talibov, and former Armenian President Armen Sarkissian.
The investigation led by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, together with 48 news outlets around the world, has investigated 18,000 accounts at the Swiss bank after an anonymous source leaked the information to Süddeutsche Zeitung.
In addition to Azerbaijani and Armenian politicians, accounts have been linked to King Abdullah of Jordan, Venezuelan oil executives, and Vatican officials — among many, many other prominent global figures, many of whom have been suspected or convicted of a coterie of international crimes.
Earlier in February, Credit Suisse faced criminal prosecution from Swiss courts for the first time, due to allegations that the bank helped launder money for the Bulgarian mafia.
Vasif and sons
According to the investigation, Seymur and Rza Talibov, the sons of Vasif Talibov — who presently serves as the Chair of the Supreme Assembly of Nakhchivan and has ruled the Azerbaijani exclave since 1995 — had over $20 million deposited into their accounts at Credit Suisse and several other banks between 2007 and 2012.
‘Leaked banking records show that the millions Talibov’s sons received came from shell companies associated with the Azerbaijani and Troika Laundromats’, wrote OCCRP in their article on the brothers.
The Azerbaijan and Troika laundromats were money-laundering operations previously uncovered in OCCRP investigations in which massive amounts of money, primarily from Russia and Azerbaijan were laundered and taken out of their respective countries.
The senior Talibov has been accused of ruling the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic with an ‘iron hand’ is related by marriage to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev — whose immediate family members were also implicated in the Azerbaijan and Troika laundromats.
Talibov’s official government salary is under $26,000 a year.
Armen Sarkissian announced his resignation as Armenia’s President on 23 January — years before his term was set to expire. Within days an investigation revealed that Sarkissian, who held that office since 2018 had been ineligible for the presidency due to holding a secret second citizenship.
The latest leaks now reveal that Sarkissian, who was required by law to declare his assets when he was appointed Armenia’s Ambassador to the UK in 2013, had, together with his wife, held nearly $11 million dollars in Swiss Francs in Credit Suisse accounts that he had not declared.
Responding to a request for comment from Hetq, Armen Sarkissian said that it was not made clear to him that he had to even declare his assets as he has been an ambassador pro-bono and had paid out-of-pocket to establish Armenia’s Embassy in the UK.
‘Others serving on a pro bono basis did not make any declarations’, he told Hetq.
Sarkissian did, however, submit a declaration attesting to €8 million in holdings — excluding the Credit Suisse sum — that he said he held as ‘cash’, and which was the reason he said he believed he needed to declare them.
‘They [...] did not oblige me to declare specific banks accounts, only my cash holdings which I declared every year’, Sarkissian told Hetq.
According to Hetq, the nature of his holdings was not noted in the declaration.
The investigative outlet also noted that 500 Armenian citizens or ‘persons connected with Armenia’ are in the Credit Suisse leaks. ‘Hetq will soon publish the stories of a few of the account holders who appeared in #SuisseSecrets data’, they wrote.