Questions remain as to the benefits the Azeri people have seen from their oil.
Azerbaijan was the first country to be deemed compliant with
the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), an international
movement to promote accountable management of natural resources. However, our
report Azerbaijan Anonymous found
evidence to suggest that the state oil company was striking deals with
companies whose owners were not publicly known and giving shares of Socar’s oil
trading subsidiary to private interests. Our report did not suggest these deals
were corrupt, but their obscurity raises questions about the management of the
Azeri oil sector.
Our investigation found that one man, Anar Alizade, was
involved in at least 48 deals with Socar. At the time the report was published,
very little was known about Alizade or how he achieved this position in the
Azeri oil industry, yet his companies made over US$375 million in five years
largely from deals with Socar. Since the publication of our report Socar
revealed more information about their previously opaque deals and Alizade gave
extensive interviews about his involvement, yet some questions remain
Azerbaijan Anonymous helped to bring to light information
about the deal-making process in Azerbaijan.
Global Witness believes that it should be required for this sort of
information to be made public, as without it countries can comply with EITI rules
while opaque deals continue to be struck with obscure companies behind closed
doors, keeping the people of Azerbaijan in the dark.
As well as lack of transparency in oil dealings, Azerbaijan
also has a highly questionable human rights record. This has culminated in the arrest of prominent activists, lawyers,
journalists, and bloggers, preventing civil society from operating freely and
openly, one of the implications of which is compromising the effectiveness of the EITI process itself.