Baku to foil Armenian diaspora’s anti-Azerbaijan fundraising campaigns
By Vugar Khalilov
Baku has pledged to continue thwarting Armenian fundraising campaigns directed against Azerbaijan's sovereignty.
In a statement posted on its website on December 14, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said: “Azerbaijan will continue its purposeful work within all international platforms to expose and prevent fundraising campaigns organized by Armenian diaspora organizations against Azerbaijan's sovereignty in various countries.”
The ministry issued the statement in reaction to the 9th session of the Conference of States Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption, which is being held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt on December 13-17.
On December 14, Azerbaijan’s Prosecutor-General Kamran Aliyev addressed the virtual event "Abuse of fundraising activities for corruption and other criminal purposes", which was organized as a part of the session.
Aliyev noted that the fundraising activities carried out by non-profit organizations and charity foundations had played an important role in providing humanitarian assistance to people in crisis.
He stressed that however, limited control over such activities ultimately led them to be abused for criminal purposes, such as corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing.
Aliyev underlined that Azerbaijan also suffers from this problem, drawing attention to the illegal fundraising campaigns organized by Armenian diaspora organizations during the 44-day war in 2020.
Furthermore, the experts from the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the European Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ECNL), the British NGO Greenacre and the Azerbaijani Financial Monitoring Service (FMS) held interactive discussions on the topic.
Addressing the event, a representative of FMS noted that during the 44-day war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Armenian diaspora organizations operating abroad collected $ 170 million, of which $ 110 million was illegally transferred to the Armenian budget. This fact was acknowledged by high-ranking Armenian officials, including the prime minister.
He added that the funds were fraudulently collected from citizens of different countries under the guise of humanitarian aid and transferred to Armenia’s state budget.
Later the collected amount was used to arm illegal armed groups previously deployed on the liberated territories of Azerbaijan, the FMS representative said.
Speakers highlighted the need to develop special rules to prevent the abuse of fundraising campaigns organized by charity foundations, the use of virtual currencies and the uncontrolled segment of the Internet by some charities to finance criminal activities.
They stressed that some banks and other financial institutions were used as intermediaries in such activities.
The discussion panel was held in a hybrid format and UNODC Senior Officer Tim Steele made an opening remark in the event.