Azerbaijani Couple, Including President’s Cousin, Owns Properties Worth Millions in London and Ibiza

Mikaela Jav, a well-known DJ, liked to show off for her fans online. In one sul­try Facebook pho­to, she appears in red and white lin­gerie, chan­nel­ing a seduc­tive Mrs. Claus.

Whitehall Court, where the Javadovs own an apart­ment. Credit: Tony Hisgett (Creative Commons BY 2.0)

Merry Xmas to all my friends!!!” she wrote, pos­ing on a bal­cony with the lights of the south bank of the Thames behind her.

That glit­ter­ing London back­drop, as well as the pat­tern on the bal­cony fenc­ing, shows that the pho­to was tak­en from Whitehall Court, one of the city’s most exclu­sive residences.

Javadova’s Facebook pho­to from WhiteHall Court.

Last week, OCCRP revealed that Mikaela Jav is in fact Izzat Khanim Javadova, a cousin of Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev.

She and her hus­band, Suleyman Javadov, have been under inves­ti­ga­tion by the U.K.’s National Crime Agency for receiv­ing 13.9 mil­lion British pounds (near­ly US$19.6 mil­lion) from opaque sources, includ­ing the Azerbaijani Laundromat, a mas­sive under­ground mon­ey move­ment sys­tem used by the country’s elite. Just today, the cou­ple set­tled the case rather than fac­ing tri­al, agree­ing to for­feit about 4 mil­lion pounds ($5.5 mil­lion) of that amount held in Suleyman’s accounts.

In col­lab­o­ra­tion with Transparency International’s U.K. chap­ter, OCCRP can now reveal that Javadova and her hus­band own at least four U.K. apart­ments, includ­ing one at Whitehall Court. Three of them were pur­chased in the years they were receiv­ing these transactions.

During that time, the cou­ple also pur­chased two addi­tion­al prop­er­ties in Ibiza, the Spanish island where Javadova — as DJ Mikaela Jav — host­ed her Saturday night par­ties called “Mikaela & Friends” in 2015.

The cou­ple has claimed that the mon­ey they received came from legit­i­mate rental income in Azerbaijan, and their lawyer described their sys­tem for receiv­ing mon­ey as part of the ancient “hawala” sys­tem of mov­ing mon­ey among a net­work of trust­ed brokers.

The U.K. inves­ti­ga­tors said that look­ing into the ori­gin of the Javadovs’ wealth was beyond the scope of their probe. But they not­ed that, while it “seems prob­a­ble that [the Javadovs] do have rental income” and “access to sig­nif­i­cant wealth,” the funds trans­ferred into their U.K. accounts were unlike­ly to have been prop­er­ty earnings.

The Javadovs “knew that what they were receiv­ing did not come from their ten­ants,” the NCA wrote to the court, “but from an unlaw­ful inter­me­di­ary organ­i­sa­tion designed to laun­der money.”

Neither Suleyman Javadov nor Izzat Khanim Javadova respond­ed to requests for comment.

London and Ibiza Views

Javadova has spo­ken of both London and Ibiza as her home.

I am based here, I have a prop­er­ty here,” she told Toazted, a pop­u­lar music inter­view chan­nel, in 2016. “My heart belongs to Ibiza.”

But when it came time to talk to inves­ti­ga­tors, she and her hus­band said that London was their “favorite city in the world” and that they want­ed to “put down roots” in the British capital.

In fact, the cou­ple owns prop­er­ties in both places.

Their first U.K. pur­chase, now owned by Javadova her­self, was the London flat at the impos­ing Whitehall Court. She bought the apart­ment in cash in 2005. Though the price she paid is unknown, it is esti­mat­ed to be worth 6.9 mil­lion pounds ($9.5 mil­lion) today.

In 2014, Javadova list­ed the apart­ment for 4.7 mil­lion pounds ($7.7 mil­lion), though it was nev­er sold.

Izzat Khanim Javadova was just 25 years old when she bought the Whitehall Court apart­ment. At the time, her father was a mem­ber of the Azerbaijani parliament.

A few years lat­er, as the Javadovs began to receive pay­ments from Laundromat com­pa­nies, they made oth­er pricey acquisitions.

In 2010, they joint­ly pur­chased an apart­ment in south­west London esti­mat­ed to be worth 3.3 mil­lion pounds ($4.6 mil­lion) today. And in 2014, Suleyman Javadov bought a cen­tral London flat for 820,000 pounds ($1.3 million).

The fol­low­ing year, Javadov also pur­chased a lux­u­ry vil­la worth $1.5 mil­lion in Ibiza, using a Spanish com­pa­ny set up on the same day. The year after that, his wife bought a four-bed­room con­do and two park­ing spaces on the oth­er side of the island for an unknown price.

Credit: OCCRP Suleyman Javadov’s vil­la is in this lux­u­ry devel­op­ment near the Cala Carbó beach in Ibiza, Spain.

Mysterious Money

The Javadovs’ lawyer has said their “busi­ness inter­ests” include “the lead­ing vod­ka, cognac and cham­pagne fac­to­ry in Azerbaijan” and that they are active in the poul­try, con­struc­tion, and agri­cul­tur­al sectors.

But the mon­ey they received in the UK, he said, large­ly came from rental income.

There is very lit­tle pub­lic infor­ma­tion about Suleyman Javadov. When he donat­ed $59,000 to Azerbaijan’s offi­cial COVID-19 response fund in 2020, local media scram­bled to fig­ure out who he was. He turned out to be the son of Gulmammad Javadov, Azerbaijan’s for­mer deputy ener­gy min­is­ter. He is not known to run any busi­ness­es in his home country.

His wife’s busi­ness inter­ests are eas­i­er to estab­lish, with sev­er­al Azerbaijani com­pa­nies known to belong to her. In one case, court records show that she came into pos­ses­sion of more than half-a-dozen large build­ings in down­town Baku after a court battle.

According to RFE/RL’s Azerbaijani ser­vice, she and her late father Jalal Aliyev, President Aliyev’s uncle, were share­hold­ers in a com­pa­ny called Sahibtaj, which built the devel­op­ments between 1995 and 2002. In 2010, they sued the company’s oth­er own­ers for alleged­ly mis­ap­pro­pri­at­ing a large part of the company’s income.

In 2011, the court decid­ed in favor of Javadova and her father, award­ing them not only Sahibtaj’s assets, but also the assets of anoth­er com­pa­ny that also belonged to their busi­ness part­ner — along with $23 million.

The Baku Appeal Court did not reply to OCCRP’s request for court doc­u­ments, and the fam­i­ly they sued declined to comment.

In sep­a­rate pro­ceed­ings in 2016, an unnamed Azerbaijani man fight­ing depor­ta­tion from the U.K. told the court that he had fled Azerbaijan because peo­ple backed by Javadova’s late father had threat­ened him in an attempt to take over his enter­pris­es. William Bowring, an inter­na­tion­al law expert at the University of London and a wit­ness in the case, not­ed that Javadova’s father had “used the courts [in Azerbaijan] in order to seize assets belong­ing to his erst­while partners.”

A Sudden Settlement

After los­ing a long legal bat­tle to avoid dis­clos­ing their names, the Javadovs have now set­tled with inves­ti­ga­tors, agree­ing to for­feit 4 mil­lion pounds held in Suleyman’s account rather than face trial.

The U.K. author­i­ties are pre­sent­ing the Javadovs’ for­fei­ture of a por­tion of the mon­ey they received from the Azerbaijani Laundromat as a vic­to­ry for law enforcement.

Anyone who used the Azerbaijan Laundromat should not rest easy, as your assets in the UK are poten­tial­ly recov­er­able,” said Andy Lewis, NCA Head of Asset Denial, in a statement.

If mon­ey trans­fers through a ‘laun­dro­mat’ sys­tem, we can go after it. We will use all means at our dis­pos­al to pre­vent the UK being attrac­tive for this sort of activity.”

The Javadovs’ prop­er­ties, how­ev­er, have not been inves­ti­gat­ed and do not appear to be in dan­ger of being con­fis­cat­ed. Their set­tle­ment reflects the out­come of a civ­il case, not a crim­i­nal one, and they have not been charged with any crime.

by  Kelly Bloss (OCCRP), Ben Cowdock (TI UK), and Antonio Baquero (OCCRP) 

With addi­tion­al report­ing by Kira Zalan.

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