Azerbaijan Bank Took $900 Million Irish Detour On Way to Default

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When Azerbaijan’s biggest bank wanted to raise hundreds of millions of dollars from funds in neighboring Kazakhstan, it headed 2,700 miles in the opposite direction to Ireland, Bloomberg News reported. The International Bank of Azerbaijan, or IBA, used obscure Dublin-based entities to sell bonds that were bought by state-linked funds in Kazakhstan about three years ago. Now, the Baku-based lender has defaulted and its long-time chief executive officer is in jail for embezzlement, while a $22 billion national pension fund across the Caspian Sea in Almaty is probing its investment in the debts. The debacle shines a light on Dublin’s role as a hub for financing deals originating in the former Soviet Union through the use of thinly regulated special purpose vehicles, known as SPVs, that critics say can mask risk and avoid scrutiny. Several Russian lenders have used such entities to borrow funds before unraveling amid claims of mismanagement and, in some cases, corruption and embezzlement. Read more.