BY FARHAD MAMMADOV
An oligarch living in Turkey, Mubariz Mansimov, who was once 'cramped in the oceans,' is now trying to control the remnants of his own fleet. Apparently, he sees his troubles in the policies of the Azerbaijani state and its largest state-owned company SOCAR (State Oil Company of Azerbaijan). In any case, he suddenly attacked the authorities of the country and the leadership of this company, accusing them of corruption and indifference to the problems of their fellow citizens. Mansimov's demagogic notes on social networks are replete with unfounded criticism and pathetic cheers and patriotic slogans. And along with accusatory activities, Mansimov is fond of replicating his charity events in social networks. This time under the brand of not his former relative Eldar Mahmudov, but of forgotten Elchibey.
Taking advantage of such a mass tribune as social networks, now many have begun to publish such 'denunciations.' On the same theses that Mansimov, oppositional politicians also base themselves, spreading their irritation and anger on the Internet because of their own insolvency. However, for many years of such outpourings, or rather, spewing, they haven't said anything new, anything real or constructive.
But for Mansimov, this is a new path: he turned to the theses of the local opposition after his business failed. Being strong and with millions of dollars, the oligarch in every way welcomed all the actions of the Azerbaijani authorities, lavishing praise and flattery with might and main. And now, having become impoverished, he suddenly began to demonstrate a position that is sharply negative towards the same authorities.
Between the collapse of the business empire of Mansimov and the change of his political orientation there is an undoubted and visible connection. A few years ago, the world-wide media started talking about troubles in the camp of the ship magnate. And soon, indeed, for his debts, they began to take tanker after tanker. And then there was a flood of messages that billionaire Mansimov was suffocating under the burden of huge debts.
The collapse befell the oligarch after his seemingly unsinkable company Palmali was convicted of organising transportation to the world markets of oil produced in the oil-bearing lands of Iraq and Syria seized by the ISIL terrorist group. Intelligence satellites of Russia and the United States took photographs that clearly indicate how caravans of tank trucks with oil from the territories, where ISIL was operating, were heading towards Turkey's borders. And already there, this oil was loaded onto Palmali tankers.
Dirty business promised huge revenues, because ISIL thugs sold oil 3-4 times cheaper than it cost in world markets. Baghdadi's 'caliphate' occupied vast territories of Iraq and Syria, which produced nearly one million barrels of oil per day. And Mansimov could not resist. It is not difficult to imagine what huge money was deposited in his accounts.
But the criminal commerce of Mansimov did not go unnoticed. The first in the way of his dirty business stood Russia, where the oligarch had invested huge capital. Criminal proceedings were instituted against his subsidiaries in the Russian Federation on charges of tax evasion on a particularly large scale, and then the bankruptcy procedure of Palmali LLC was followed. The tycoon's ships were put up for auction, and the proceeds from their sale went to the accounts of the Russian Sberbank, to which Mansimov owed significant sums.
Mansimov's tankers began to be arrested and confiscated in foreign ports, as the world media reported.
So why is he now blaming the government of Azerbaijan for the bankruptcy of his dark business? Why is he attacking SOCAR?
The press told a lot about the history of cooperation between Palmali and SOCAR. Without going into details, it can be pointed out that these business connections began in the mid-2000s, when Mansimov's business was very far from future prosperity. It was then that his company received the right to transport oil from SOCAR, thanks to which revenues surged in Palmali, and the company became extremely wealthy. However, this cooperation was subsequently discontinued, since Mansimov had a huge amount of debts to SOCAR. Azerbaijan's State Oil Company took 14 tankers from Palmali (purchased for loans received by the oligarch from SOCAR) and other assets. However, according to informed sources, Palmali still owes SOCAR exorbitant sums.
Having lost a significant part of his assets, Mansimov tried to threaten SOCAR with an international court, but thought better of it in time. It was then that, in order to annoy somehow, he started his 'opposition activity' in social networks.
Being a shrewd man (otherwise he would not have earned his billions), now, perhaps, former oligarch has adopted two win-win theses: populist patriotism and the Armenian-Azerbaijani confrontation. And this is despite the fact that this 'patriot' has an authoritative representative of the Armenian diaspora in the US, mafioso Levon Termendzhyan, as his business partner, which is confirmed by numerous documents and facts.
Levon Termendzhyan is the owner of SBK Holdings, a commercial and residential real estate trading company. The company's assets are estimated at $800 million. According to US media reports, the US Department of Homeland Security accused Levon Termendzhyan of tax evasion, money laundering and oil theft. This became known during the trial of Edgar Sargsyan, the former president and legal consultant of SBK Holdings. (It is logical to assume that there is some connection between the tankers of Mansimov and the illegal oil trade that has interested the American investigators). At the trial, Sargsyan stated that 'the suspicious and secret business practice' of Termendzhyan forced him to leave the company.
According to the registry, in California, one of the places of compact residence of many Armenians, the authorised representative of the company Palmali USA LLC is George Termendzhyan, the son of Levon Termendzhyan. This company was registered on October 27, 2016, and now it is engaged in refinancing Mansimov's debts.
The relations between Termendzhyan and Mansimov had long been suspected in Turkey. This representative of the Armenian diaspora was a frequenter in Turkish parties of Mansimov, stayed with him on a yacht, arranged his business deals and trips to the United States. On the Internet, there is no information about the activities of Palmali USA LLC, but Mansimov willingly spoke in certain circles about his meetings with Termendzhyan.
Without denying in the least his close cooperation with Termendzhyan, he now began frantically accusing the press of publishing custom-made materials, exploding with emotional statements on social networks. Having earned a lot of money on Azerbaijani oil, but inexplicably mired in huge debts to SOCAR, the oligarch suddenly remembered such concepts as 'patriotism', 'transparency', 'honesty'...
Now Mansimov, having collected the remains of his business in Turkey, is trying to regain the image of a successful and honest businessman and convince the whole world that the reason for his current troubles is not his inability to run a business, not being involved in black enrichment schemes, but in the 'machinations' of his native country and SOCAR, which laid the foundation for its well-being.
Last year, the idea was even thrown into the information space that the Azerbaijani authorities had bankrupted Mansimov 'because he was a Talysh.' Naturally, this thesis was enthusiastically picked up by the Internet TV channels of Talysh separatists who settled abroad. It is very likely that, using this formerly often played and now re-emerged Talysh card, the separatists, and even Mansimov, want to enlist the support of the Armenian circles.
In general, the bankrupt oligarch uses a standard arsenal of oppositional means: oil money, populist-patriotic slogans, accusations of everyone and everything (except himself, of course) of corruption, ethnic persecution, and now also curtsy towards the Armenian partners. Well, what to do when only memories of countless riches are left...