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Parliamentarians from the Council of Europe adopted money from Azerbaijan – and in return lobbied for the country. This is the result of an expert group.

Azerbaijan: Investigation confirmed corrupt activities In the Council of Europe

Parliamentarians from the Council of Europe adopted money from Azerbaijan – and in return lobbied for the country. This is the result of an expert group.

Azerbaijan: Investigation confirmed   corrupt activities   In the Council of Europe

In Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe, several members have probably accepted bribes and or donations from Azerbaijan. This is conclusion of three independent experts ordered by Council of Europe, who presented ir investigation report on Sunday evening in Strasbourg. Among ors, former Bundestag deputy Eduard Linter (CSU) and Bundestag MEP Karin Straw (CDU), both former members of Parliamentary Assembly, are named in this regard.

Some current and former members of Parliament have worked for Azerbaijan, it is said in report, which talks about "corrupt activities". In return, money was channelled from authoritarian-led country. The leaders of or countries also tried to influence payments. The 200-page report was prepared by two former judges at European Court of Human Rights, Nicolas Bratza and Elisabet Fura, and Jean-Louis Bruguière, one of most famous investigating judges in France.

CSU-Deputy Company "consultant firm"

According to report, Linter was Azerbaijan's "key lobbyist". Between 2012 and 2014, he received a total of 819,500 euros from Baku – The transactions were handled by three letter box companies based in United Kingdom. The CSU member said that payments were made by non-governmental organization "Association for Civil Society Development in Azerbaijan", which is based in Baku. Through his consulting firm Line M-Trade, lobbying work for Azerbaijan, which was paid by Baku, Linters employed report according to CDU deputy Karin Straw. She later said that she had not known that Lintners company was funded by Baku.

Both Linters and straw, despite several invitations, refused to comment personally on accusations, authors of report write. The same applies to Italian Christian Democrat Luca Volonte, also a key figure in affair. Against Volonte, Public Prosecutor's Office in Milan at end of 2016 had initiated an investigation into corruption and money laundering, which led to scandal in Council of Europe. This involved bribes from Azerbaijan amounting to almost 2.4 million euros – handled by same British mailbox companies that Linters received ir money from.

Volonte was formerly Parliamentary Assembly group leader of Christian Democrat European People's Party. He has been instrumental in ensuring that a critical resolution on political prisoners in Azerbaijan was surprisingly thrown out in January 2015. As only German MEP in assembly, straw voted against resolution at time.

Azerbaijan has been trying to influence work of pan-European country Organisation since its inclusion in Council of Europe 2001. The oil-rich former Soviet republic has bribed a number of deputies for information from non-governmental organizations – with money donations, but also gifts such as caviar, luxury watches or carpets. In this way, Azerbaijan managed to prevent critical reports of elections, corruption or human rights situation in country.

The Baku Connection

The Parliamentary Assembly meets four times a year for each session week. It includes 324 national deputies from 47 states. Among or things, it has task of monitoring observance of human rights in Member States. The Strasbourg-based organisation comprises all EU countries, but also countries such as Turkey, Russia or Azerbaijan. In 2017, commission of Inquiry was established to investigate suspected cases of corruption in Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe. Their report is now.

Many people are named in paper, among m CDU Bundestag MEP Karin Straw, who sat for Germany in Parliamentary Assembly until beginning of 2018. She is accused of violating organization's code of conduct. It did not disclose conflicts of interest before it took part in election observation missions in Azerbaijan. The former President of Parliamentary Assembly, Spaniard Pedro Agramunt, is also accused in report: There are strong suspicions that he has been involved in corrupt actions.

In Council of Europe, a discussion on subject was stifled for years – not least by Agramunt, who was also a frequent guest in Baku. Because of "Baku Connection", Spanish Christian Democrat was so under pressure that he finally declared his resignation last October.

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