Briefing Document / March 4, 2015

Azerbaijan Anonymous: Correspondence with SOCAR

In December 2013 Global Witness published Azerbaijan Anonymous, in which we called for the release of information concerning who the real owners are of companies involved in the extraction and trading of oil that belongs to the Azerbaijani people, and how these companies got access to these deals.

The State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) had struck dozens of separate deals with companies that appeared to be owned or controlled by a businessman who, at the time of Azerbaijan Anonymous’ publication, was not a publicly known figure.   The report highlighted the gaps in the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative (EITI) that allowed deals to be conducted without this crucial information being made public.

Before publishing our report we made requests for information from SOCAR and numerous SOCAR subsidiaries.  We wrote to SOCAR several months before we published our report with very specific questions.  SOCAR responded with a page and a half letter with descriptions of its activities and business rationale, but did not answer many of the specific questions we had asked.  We published the letter from SOCAR in full on our website and quoted substantially from it in our report.

Following the publication of our report SOCAR published a more detailed response on its website in December 2013 and in December 2014 published a website This material, and other information published since our report, was posted on our website. Global Witness also took part in a dialogue with SOCAR after publication, including offers to meet with SOCAR.

SOCAR has criticised our reporting but along with other parties has since published some of the information the report called for.  It is regrettable that SOCAR chose not to provide this information before we published, despite our invitations to do so.  Nevertheless, the release of this information, even if belated, is a positive step.

On 25th February 2015 SOCAR wrote to members of the EITI board and Global Witness’ Advisory Board and Trustees making a range of allegations against Global Witness. On 3rd March 2015 Global Witness responded addressing each of SOCAR’s points in turn, citing relevant correspondence between SOCAR and Global Witness.

Below are SOCAR’s letter of 25 February 2015 and our response. We encourage any party interested to read both Azerbaijan Anonymous and SOCAR’s responses.  We continue to welcome a dialogue with SOCAR and welcome any means to improve the governance and accountability in the extractive industries.


  • Azerbaijan Anonymous Report 
  • Azerbaijan Anonymous: Annex 2 Company Links
  • Socar’s May 2013 response to Global Witness
  • In December 2013 both Socar and Anar Aliyev issued statements, which are available here and here.
  • Following Socar’s statement Global Witness issued a response which is available here.
  • In January 2014, Anar Aliyev gave an interview with BusinessTime Magazine which is available in English here and in Russian here 
  • Global Witness issued a response following the interview given by Anar Aliyev to Business Time magazine in January 2014. This is available here.
  • In November 2014, Anar Aliyev gave a further interview with Eynulla Fatullayev which addressed previously unanswered questions in English.
  • Then In December 2014, in response to issues raised in our Azerbaijan Anonymous report, SOCAR created a new website,, "in order to demonstrate that SOCAR has conducted itself in accordance with both the principle and letter of Azerbaijani law".
  • SOCAR’s letter to Global Witness’s  Advisory Board members and Trustees on the 25th February 2015 is available here
  • Global Witness’ response to SOCAR is available here