Samir Sharifov

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Samir Sharifov
Minister of Finance
Assumed office
18 April 2006
Prime Minister Artur Rasizade
Preceded by Avaz Alakbarov
Executive Director of State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan
In office
3 January 2001 – 18 April 2006
Preceded by Position established
Succeeded by Shahmar Movsumov
Personal details
Born (1961-09-07) 7 September 1961 (age 55)
Azerbaijan
Political party Independent
Alma mater National University of Kyiv
Religion Islam

Samir Sharifov Rauf oglu (Azerbaijani: Samir Şərifov Rauf oğlu; born September 7, 1961) is an Azerbaijani politician serving as the Minister of Finance of Azerbaijan Republic.

Early life[edit]

Sharifov was born on September 7, 1961. In 1983, he graduated from Kiev State University with a Master's degree in International Economic Relations.[1] In 1983-1991, he worked for Soviet governmental organizations dealing with international economic relations and was based first in Baku, then in Yemen.[2]

Political career[edit]

In 1991-1995, Sharifov worked as the head of department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan. From 1995 through 2001, he was a department director at the Central Bank of Azerbaijan. On January 3, 2001 he was appointed Executive Director of State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan by President Heydar Aliyev.[3] From 2003 until 2006, he also chaired the State Commission on Transparency for Exploitation of Natural Resources and Manufacturing Sector. On April 18, 2006 Sharifov was replaced by Shahmar Movsumov and was appointed Minister of Finance of Azerbaijan.[2][4]

In addition to being a minister, Sharifov is a member of the supervisory board of the Oil Fund of Azerbaijan and is a co-chair at Black Sea Trade and Development Bank representing the Azerbaijani side.[2][5] Sharifov was featured in a 2011 Forbes article about George Soros.[6]

Sharifov is married and has two children.

State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan (SOFAZ)[edit]

The State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan (SOFAZ) collects and manages Azerbaijan’s revenues from oil and gas. Mr. Sharifov was the Executive Director of SOFAZ from January 3, 2001 to April 18, 2006.[7] He is currently a member of the Supervisory Board. [8]

According to the Business Anti-Corruption Portal:[9]

  • The oil and gas sector in Azerbaijan is the greatest source of corruption in the country.
  • “International and local NGOs claim that SOFAZ is under the control of the Presidential Bureau and that massive fraud and misappropriation of the fund's money by top politicians and officials has taken place.”
  • Under Sharif’s leadership, SOFAZ engaged in illegal practices during the Presidential election year, including paying pensions and raising civil salaries to boost support for the President.

SOFAZ Problems[edit]

In 2011, the U.S. State Department delivered a report that cited corruption, cronyism, and other crimes as key problems for Azerbaijan’s oil and gas resources.[10] SOFAZ manages the country’s oil and gas revenues, and in 2011 Mr. Sharifov served on the Board of Supervisors.[11]

According to the State Department report: “Strategic development of Azerbaijan’s oil and gas resources continues to drive the country’s economic growth, and keeps this country of just over 9 million people at the forefront of world energy security discussions. Unfortunately, corruption, lack of transparency, politically connected economic monopolies, and cronyism remain significant obstacles to economic progress, hindering both domestic as well as foreign investment.” [12]

Political Significance[edit]

The Azerbaijani government has relied on Mr. Sharifov’s SOFAZ to close budget deficits. In some years, funds from Mr. Sharifov’s SOFAZ were used to pay for 50 percent of the Azerbaijani government’s total budget.[13]

Intelligence agent allegations[edit]

Sharifov served as a human asset (agent) for Russian, Turkish, and American intelligence services, according to information leaked by sources inside the Russian intelligence community that was published in the Ukrainian newspaper Gordonua on March 9, 2016.[14][15]

Turkish intelligence officers first recruited Sharifov between 1989 and 1990. At some point shortly after 1990, the CIA recruited him.[14]

Sharifov studied at the Kiev Shevchenko State University. While a student, the KGB recruited him with leverage. The KGB caught Sharifov illegally buying and selling foreign currency on the black market. In lieu of prosecution, the KGB got Sharifov to work for them. After Sharifov graduated, he worked for Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Foreign Trade in South Yemen. He worked in a unit responsible for transporting Soviet military weapons and equipment to South Yemen. While working at that position, he secretly served as a human asset of the KGB’s First Chief Directorate.[14]

In 1990, two shipments of weapons going from the Soviet Union to South Yemen disappeared. The KGB investigated. Their investigation concluded that “ a “hostile foreign intelligence agency” had learned about the transports from a “mole” recruited among the Soviet employees in South Yemen who had knowledge about the transports.”[14] The KGB found evidence that Sharifov had made been making contact with Turkish intelligence officers while working for the KGB at the South Yemen station.[14]

The Soviet government removed Sharifov from his position and flew him to Moscow for interrogation. The Soviet Union collapsed shortly thereafter, Sharifov moved on to a new job.[14]

Corruption Allegations[edit]

Several news articles have discussed a correlation between Sharifov’s position in government and corruption:

New Petroleum Wealth[edit]

In 2005, Nefte Compass reported: “Fresh from elections that have been judged as less than perfect, Azerbaijan is getting on with the business of raking in the oil money, bracing itself for a flood of "petrodollars" that at current prices could exceed $150 billion over the next 20 years. Concerns abound that the windfall will be squandered through corruption rather than pumped into alleviating poverty. . . the fund's chairman [is] Samir Sharifov . . .” [16]

In 2002, APS Review Gas Market Trends reported: “There is a big question mark about Azerbaijan's future . . . Petroleum wealth without governmental accountability in the coming years will lead to more corruption and a population impoverished further. . . In October 1997 the British Ambassador, Roger Thomas, told a conference organised by the Baku chamber of commerce that corruption in Azerbaijan was getting out of hand. He spoke of "the hijacking of assets and wealth by a few people while a large part of the country goes empty-handed". He said foreign companies were being "frightened away" from Azerbaijan by excessive and arbitrary taxation. He said corruption, in the form of "unofficial overheads", provided "a further disincentive to invest". . . The fund's board of directors [is] led by Aliyev-appointed banker Samir Sharifov . . .” [17]

Miscellaneous[edit]

Article pages on CBS News and Foreign Policy Journal include the following information about Minister Sharifov:

  • "The United States is encouraging Aliyev to appoint Samir Sharifov to be ... as a governor for Azerbaijan, clearly indicate a pattern of corruption."[18]
  • "There have been whispers of treason, bribery, and corruption under Minister of Finance, Samir Sharifov, but to move into terrorism is disgusting."[19]

International Relations[edit]

Corruption Rebuke[edit]

According to leaked embassy cables, on July 11, 2006, then- U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan Anne E. Derse met with Sharifov and discussed several issues. When the conversation turned to corruption, Ambassador Derse stressed to Sharifov the importance of Azerbaijan ensuring transparency and combating corruption. According to the cable, "Sharifov . . . said that it cannot resolve them overnight." [20]

Soros Connection[edit]

According to Forbes magazine, billionaire George Soros is trying to support Sharifov's political rise. "Azerbaijan officials openly wonder if Soros is freelancing or acting with the approval, spoken or unspoken, of the State department and White House in support of Azerbaijan’s Sharifov. Actually, they wonder only as a matter of politeness. They think they know the answer and that Soros is doing Obama’s bidding. This is a dangerous misconception to give them." [21]

Rise to Power[edit]

Appointment to SOFAZ[edit]

According to a study published in Comparative Economic Studies:[22]

  • Azerbaijan is classified by the World Bank as a Low Income country, the government is faced with the problems of a low level of GDP per capita, limited fiscal resources and administrative capacity.
  • Azerbaijan is known as a country with a low level of transparency and opportunities for fraud and corruption.
  • In 1999, President Aliyev signed the decree N240 'On setting up the State Oil Fund of the Azerbaijani Republic' (SOFAZ) to govern the collection of oil revenue and bonuses.
  • Mr. Sharifov was appointed by the President as the first general manager of the fund.

IMF Governor[edit]

According to the IMF website, Sharifov serves as Azerbaijan's governor to the IMF. His seat gives him 0.09 percent of the vote on the IMF Board of Governors.[23]

Azerbaijani Oil Growth[edit]

According to a 2006 article in The Banker, estimates based on contracts with oil companies predict that Azerbaijan will take in between $140 and $200 billion from Caspian oil fields. These funds will be "at the disposal of a government whose currently gross domestic product stands at $7 billion." Although Sharifov insisted that "the country has dealt with international concerns about the security of the oil funds," the article reports, "Transparency International does not rate Azerbaijan very highly with regard to corruption. . . . The size of Azerbaijan's unregulated cash economy also gives concern." [24]

Alleged Oil Corruption[edit]

According to text on a Foreign Policy Journal online article page, "[Sharifov's] background in mismanaging the country’s lucrative oil funds and his recently exposed kickbacks from the Asian Development Bank where he serves as a governor for Azerbaijan, clearly indicate a pattern of corruption."[25]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Biographies. Samir Şərifov". Retrieved 2010-11-09. 
  2. ^ a b c "Azərbaycan Respublikasının Maliyyə Nazirliyi. Samir Rauf oğlu Şərifov" [Ministry of Finance of Azerbaijan Republic. Samir Sharifov Rauf oglu]. Retrieved 2010-11-09. 
  3. ^ "Samir Şərifov Neft Fondunun İcraçı Direktoru vəzifəsindən azad edilərək maliyyə naziri təyin olunmuşdur" [Samir Sharifov was relieved of his duties of a director of the Oil Fund and was appointed Finance Minister]. Retrieved 2010-11-09. 
  4. ^ "Samir Şərifov Azərbaycanın maliyyə naziri təyin olunub" [Samir Sharifov appointed Finance Minister of Azerbaijan]. Trend News Agency. 2006-04-18. Retrieved 2010-11-09. 
  5. ^ "Oil Fund of Azerbaijan. Supervisory Board". Retrieved 2010-11-09. 
  6. ^ Miniter, Richard. "Are George Soros' Billions Compromising U.S. Foreign Policy?". Forbes. 
  7. ^ "SOFAZ Executive Director removed to be appointed as Finance Minister", State Oil Fund of the Republic of Azerbaijan website, News archive, 20 Apr 2006
  8. ^ "Supervisory Board", State Oil Fund of the Republic of Azerbaijan website, Retrieved 28 Jan 2013
  9. ^ "Oil and Gas Sector: Corruption and Progress in Azerbaijan's Oil and Gas Sector", Business Anti-Corruption Portal
  10. ^ "2011 Investment Climate Statement - Azerbaijan", U.S. State Department, Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs, March 2011
  11. ^ "Supervisory Board", State Oil Fund of the Republic of Azerbaijan website, Retrieved 28 Jan 2013
  12. ^ "2011 Investment Climate Statement - Azerbaijan", U.S. State Department, Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs, March 2011
  13. ^ "2011 Investment Climate Statement - Azerbaijan", U.S. State Department, Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs, March 2011
  14. ^ a b c d e f "Сокурсник Путина Швец: Фирмы при консульствах России на Западе получают $50–55 млн в год. Деньги идут в карман Лаврова". Gordonua (in Russian). 2016-03-09. Retrieved 2016-03-09. 
  15. ^ "Azerbaijani official Samir Sharifov accused of spying". Wikinews. 2016-03-09. Retrieved 2016-03-25. 
  16. ^ "Last Word: Oil Fund Chief Sets Out Strategy For Azerbaijan", Nefte Compass, 17 Nov 2005
  17. ^ "AZERBAIJAN - Stability Prospects", APS Review Gas Market Trends, 5 Aug 2002
  18. ^ Edmund Berger "Soros and the State Department: Moving Iran towards the Open Society", Foreign Policy Journal, 14 May 2011
  19. ^ "Did Iran plot to kill Israelis in Azerbaijan?" CBS News, 21 Feb 2012
  20. ^ "Ambassador's Introductory Call On Finance Minister Samir Sharifov", Embassy Baku diplomatic cable, 17 Jul 2006
  21. ^ Richard Miniter, "Are George Soros' Billions Compromising U.S. Foreign Policy?", Forbes, 9 Sept 2011
  22. ^ Yelena Kalyuzhnova, "Overcoming the Curse of Hydrocarbon: Goals and Governance in the Oil Funds of Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan", Comparative Economic Studies, December 2006
  23. ^ http://www.imf.org/external/np/sec/memdir/members.aspx#2
  24. ^ "Azerbaijan - Fat Of The Land - Azerbaijan Is Having To Balance The Demands Of The Poor With Those Of Cautious Economists When It Comes To Managing Its Soaring Oil Wealth. Nick Kochan Explains", The Banker, 1 Sept 2006
  25. ^ Edmund Berger, "Soros and the State Department: Moving Iran towards the Open Society", Foreign Policy Journal, 14 May 2011
Political offices
Preceded by
Avaz Alakbarov
Minister of Finance
2006–present
Incumbent