Trial of Azerbaijani ministry’s ex-official proceeds

Trial of Azerbaijani ministry’s ex-official proceeds
# 09 December 2016 12:25 (UTC +04:00)

Baku Court of Grave Crimes on Wednesday continued the trial in the criminal case involving Vidadi Zeynalov, former head of the Office of Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Communications and High Technologies, and other people arrested alongside him.

The accused Mahammad Mammadov testified at the hearing presided over by judge Afgan Hajiyev.

He noted that among the CIS countries, Azerbaijan was for the first time supplied with fiber-optic cable.

“All districts in Azerbaijan have access to communications. All these achievements have been gained by people sitting in the dock,” Mammadov said, confirming his testimony during the investigation.

Then his testimony was read out.

“I have been director general of Aztelekom Production Association since 2004. Aztelekom LLC was founded under Aztelekom Production Association in 2015. As it was the structural unit of the Ministry of Communications and High Technologies, the LLC was controlled by minister Ali Abbasov, deputy ministers Iltimas Mammadov and Elmir Valizade, and the head of the ministry’s office Vidadi Zeynalov. Chief accountant of Aztelekom LLC Ogtay Rustamov was also permanent employee of the ministry and reported directly to Vidadi Zeynalov. Orders on appointing and dismissing a chief accountant or sending him/her to vocation or business trip were taken by the ministry. Vidadi Zeynalov instructed Ogtay Rustamov to collect money and given him every month. Ogtay Rustamov gave monthly 500,000 manats to Vidadi Zeynalov in 2009-2013, 200,000 manats in 2014-2015. Ogtay Rustamov collected these funds in cash, I had no authority to prevent or interfere in this process. I was only informed of this process as the director general of the association,” Mammadov said in his testimony.

The defendant said that Aztelekom LLC was conducting international traffic exchange procedures.

“International gateway exchange was carried out in accordance with the agreement signed between Aztelekom LLC and AzInTelekom LLC. According to the terms of the agreement, AzInTelekom LLC paid funds to Aztelekom LLC for incoming calls to customers of Aztelekom LLC from another country and Aztelekom LLC paid funds to AzInTelekom LLC for outgoing calls to foreign countries. AzInTelekom LLC monthly transferred 1,000,000-2,000,000 manats to the account of Aztelekom LLC. These funds directly or indirectly were given to Vidadi Zeynalov. A certain part of the funds was transferred to the account of the contractor organizations, and the main part of the funds to the accounts of “Optik Rabite Montaj”, Optik Rabite Tikinti ve Qurashdirma”, “Rabitechi Istirahet Bazasi”, “Qafqaz-S Inshaat” and “Komplas” LLC, and given to Vidadi Zeynalov by Ogtay Rustamov in cash under various contracts. All the payments were transferred via bank accounts. Aztelekom LLC had a bank account in the Rabite branch of Kapitalbank OJSC. I heard that heads of other bodies under the Ministry of Communications and High Technologies gave funds to Vidadi Zeynalov on a monthly basis, whereas I didn’t know the amount of the payments,” he added.

Answering questions of the lawyers, he said that upon the instruction of the ministry, the construction and installation work was carried out and funds were spent.

It became clear that a large amount of loans were taken out at the time Mammadov worked. Mammadov confirmed it saying that the loans were spent for new projects. He said that the ministry issued a letter of guarantee to him when he took out the loans.

At the hearing, a dispute took place between Zeynalov’s lawyer Jeyhun Yusifov and Mammadov’s lawyer Shahin Rafiyev. The judge warned them. Zeynalov’s lawyer asked Mammadov to mention a name.

Defendant Ogtay Rustamov testified at the hearing. He said that he worked as an accountant in Aztelekom LLC. He said that he has no connection with Zeynalov and didn’t give him money: ‘I got a salary of AZN 1,600. There have always been inspections in Aztelekom and no violation of law was revealed. I was an accountant and I wasn’t responsible for any state property. Increasing the work and exaggerating prices were not my obligation. I was in shock when I testified for the first time. It was the first time I had been questioned by an investigator. I didn’t believe that anyone would be arrested. I didn’t say there that I gave the money to Zeynalov,” he added.

Later, his testimony to the investigation was read out.

The hearing will be continued in the afternoon.

A series of investigative operations had discovered that from 2009 to 2015, director general of Baku Telephone Network Production Association Beytullah Huseynov, entered into a criminal conspiracy with the director of “Bakı Rabite Temir Tikinti” and “Temir Techizat Servis” companies, Bayram Valiyev, the director of "3 nomreli Rabite Temir Tikinti” and “Rabite Mulki Tikinti” companies Emin Mammadov and the chief accountant of the Baku Telephone Network Production Association Anar Mustafayev, gave them a project for the implementation of works on the new telephone lines and installation of new equipment. According to the agreement concluded between them, 35-45% are listed on the accounts of these companies means then had to be returned in cash to Beytullah Huseynov. After that Beytullah Huseynov, abusing official powers and organizing sham tenders issued forged documents, which indicated that the work for the fiber-optic lines for the Internet were carried out by companies controlled by him, though in reality, these works were carried out by local telephone networks. Because of these machinations Beytullah Huseynov misappropriated 21,379,000 of 71,263 million manats, transfers to accounts controlled by him LLC. However, investigators have reason to suspect that the Chief of Staff of the Ministry Vidadi Zeynalov, processing government orders to close the company itself and increasing their value by 4-5 times, misappropriated 73.59 million manats.

The investigation revealed cases of appropriation of budgetary funds and forgery in “Aztelekom” LLC, “AzÄ°nTelekom” LLC, Center for information and calculations, “Optik Rabite Tikinti ve Qurashdırma”.

The director general of Baku Telephone Network Production Association Beytullah Huseynov, the director of “Bakı Rabite Temir Tikinti” and “Temir Techizat Servis” companies Bayram Valiyev, the director of "3 nomreli Rabite Temir Tikinti” and “Rabite Mulki Tikinti” companies Emin Mammadov and the chief accountant of the Baku Telephone Network Production Association Anar Mustafayev are charged under articles 179.3.2 (embezzlement on a large scale), 308.2 (abuse of power) and 313 (forgery) of the Criminal Code of Azerbaijan.

The head of the ministry’s Office Vidadi Zeynalov, the director general of AzInTelekom LLC Jalil Jafarov, the director general of Azerpocht LLC Gambar Beybalayev face charges under articles 179.3.2 and 308.2. A preventive measure in the form of arrest has been chosen against all of those persons.