20 november 2017

Central Asia news

One of opposition leaders accuses Tajik president’s family of raiding

31.10.2017 22:06 msk

Ferghana


Emomali Rahmon with his wife
Sharofiddin Gadoev, one of the leaders of the Tajik opposition movement in exile, "Group 24", accused the wife and son-in-law of President Emomali Rahmon of raiding the Umed-88 fuel-supply company. The Tajik authorities accused the management of the company of illegally obtaining a loan and stealing state funds. In his video message on Facebook, Gadoev claims that behind the criminal prosecution of the head of Umed-88 company, Rajabali Odinayev, are the wife of Tajik President, Azizamoh Asadulloyeva, and her son-in-law, Shamsullo Sohibov, who is the Tajikistan's trade representative in the UK and heads the National Association of Winter Sports.

The authorities arrested the founder of Umed-88 company, Rajabali Odinayev, and its director, Idibek Ibragimov, on 14 October - right after President Rakhmon said at a meeting with entrepreneurs that the company cannot return a loan to the state for almost four years, in the amount of 171 mln somoni (more than $ 19 mln). The money was provided through a trilateral agreement between Rogun Hydropower Plant joint stock company, the Ministry of Finance and Umed-88 limited liability company to develop the agro-industrial complex, but, according to the authorities, they were misused.

Before that, the Umed-88 company had been supplying and retailing oil products in Tajikistan for more than 20 years. The company imported petrol and diesel fuel from Russia and Kazakhstan, distributing products through its network of gas stations - and this is more than 70 filling stations in the country. A few days after Rakhmon's speech, the Umed-88 company began taking down signs with the name of the company. At the gas stations, journalists were informed that their owner is another company now.

In his speech, Sharofiddin Gadoev noted that as early as 2012, Russian Lukoil experts rated Umed-88 company at $ 200-220 mln, and its current value is $ 270 mln. The company produces goods worth $ 36-38 mln per year and has about $ 36 mln of an annual net profit. According to the activist, Umed-88 has never had a tax debt and paid salaries to its 1,200 employees in time.

Sharofiddin Gadoev claims that the company possesses products worth $ 40-45 mln, which it can sell in 15 days, and return the loan to the state. He notes that the loan agreement was concluded in 2015 for three years - until 15 May 2018, and approved personally by President Emomali Rahmon. And not until 31 December 2015, as the anti-corruption agency of Tajikistan reported. "It turns out that the term of the contract has not expired; moreover, he has not even come close to an end. Tajikistan's Ministry of Finance imposed this amount on Rajabali Odinayev, and he had to force himself to take it," said Sharofiddin Gadoev.

According to him, for facilitating the credit, the son-in-law of the president, Jamoliddin Nuraliyev, received a bribe amounting to $ 1 mln, and the head of the Ministry of Finance, Abdusalom Kurboniyon - $ 200,000, and the head of the Rogun Hydropower Plant - $ 50,000.

Gadoev claims that Shamsullo Sohibov had an eye on the Umed-88 company. Seven years ago, with the support of Azizamoh Asadulloeva, he took away large warehouses from Odinayev, because of what the entrepreneur had to build new ones later. The opposition figure noted that the president's wife has a great influence on Tajik officials who "grovel and cringe" before her.

"The Umed-88 company was one of Tajikistan's largest taxpayers, but companies, that fall into the hands of family members of Rahmon, are no longer taxpayers," Gadoev said. At the same time, he expressed his fear that "Rajabali Odinayev would not be released anymore," since he has compromising evidence against the president's family and "can shed light" on their criminal deeds.

Emomali Rahmon, who has been ruling Tajikistan since 1992, has nine children - seven daughters and two sons. The eldest of the sons - 30-year-old Rustam Emomali - holds the post of Mayor of Dushanbe, and daughter, Ozoda Rahmon, heads the office of her father. Her husband, Jamoliddin Nuraliyev, is the first deputy chair of the National Bank of Tajikistan. Another daughter of President, Rukhshona Rahmonova, is working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the country as a deputy head of the Department of International Organisations.

In December 2015, Tajikistan adopted the “The Founder of Peace and National Unity – the Nation Leader” law, which grants Emomali Rahmon special life status and privileges. According to the law, which has the status of constitutional, the leader of the nation is guaranteed immunity: it is forbidden to detain, arrest and search him. The property and real estate, belonging to the Nation Leader and his relatives, are also immune. Emomali Rahmon and all members of his family will be permanently guarded by the state security service. After the presidency, the leader of the nation will be provided with an official car and driver, free medical care. The leader of the nation will receive a pension in the amount of 80 percent of the official salary of the president, as well as his house, dacha, and working residences at his disposal.

And in May 2016, a nationwide referendum was held in Tajikistan to amend the country's constitution, which established a lifetime rule for Rahmon and ensured an opportunity for his son to run for the presidency in the next election in 2020 (the law lowers age limit for candidates from 35 to 30 years).

Sharofiddin Gadoev has led the opposition movement named "Group 24", which is banned in Tajikistan but active abroad, after the death of its founder Umarali Kuvvatov, who was killed in Istanbul on 5 March 2015. The authorities are persecuting and blackmailing family members of Gadoev and other “Group 24” activists in their homeland. But despite threats and pressure on relatives, Sharofiddin Gadoev continues political activities in exile.

Fergana News Agency