No Azerbaijani has ever made it onto Forbes’ list of the world’s richest people, but it’s no secret that some high-placed officials are quite wealthy and control ever-expanding businesses and assets. One of those people is Kamaladdin Heydarov, the Minister of Emergencies (literally “extraordinary situations” in Azerbaijani – ed.).
In 2010, American diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks revealed that US embassy officials ranked the Heydarovs as “the second most powerful commercial family in Azerbaijan” after the first lady’s family, the Pashayevs. According to the leaked cables, Kamaladdin Heydarov amassed his massive wealth from “illicit payments” he received as chairman of the State Customs Committee (SCC), which is thought to be one of the most corrupt institutions in the country.
But Heydarov was a businessman long before he was appointed to the SCC in 1995. The future minister founded Gilan Holding which, according to the official site, has been operating since 1987 and is now the country’s largest group of companies. Only the Pashayev family’s Pasha Holding can compare in terms of the diversity of its activities, turnover, and estimated assets.
By 2016, Gilan Holding was involved in: industrial and consumer sales and retail trade, tourism and hotels, transport and logistics, construction and real estate management, the production of construction materials, and food and agricultural produce. The massive holding company continues to add to its portfolio: according to domestic media, Gilan registers several new companies each month.
Although the holding owns a bank, it also uses cheap financial resources generously provided by the government. Gilan’s bread factory in Baku, ceramic factory in Hajigabul, textile factories in Sumgayit, agricultural complex in Gabala District and numerous other factories were established with tens of thousands of manats in long-term loans issued by the government.
Very few of Heydarov’s companies have released information about their finances, but here is some publicly available data about some investments that have been made in this business empire:
- Gilan leather factory – $15 million
- Gilan ceramics factory – 40.2 million manats ($23.6 million)
- Gilan textile park – 46 million manats ($27 million)
- Gabala livestock-dairy complex – 12.9 million manats ($7.6 million)
- Agro complex Gabala – 25 million manats ($14.7 million)
- Gilan citrus farm in Lankaran – 10 million manats ($5.9 million)
- Caspian Fish Co processing plant in Absheron – $56 million
- Baku thread factory – 14 million manats ($8.2 million)
- International Trade Center complex in Baku – 11.5 million manats ($6.8 million)
- № 1 Bread Factory in Baku – 48.7 million manats ($28.6 million)
- Hotel de Roma in Riga – 13.2 million euros ($16.2 million)
- Benkons Bosna fruit juice factory in Bosnia – 25 million euros ($30.7 million)
- 7-story hotel with 108 rooms in Kyzyl, Russia – $50 million
- Mingachevir Textile – 144 million manats ($84.7 million)
- Cement factory in Kyzyl, Russia – $2 million
In 2008, construction began on a hotel and shopping complex called Crescent Bay Development. An estimated $1.5 billion was invested in the project.
Below is a searchable database of over 350 companies owned by Kamaladdin Heydarov, his family members, and the companies he has established. The complete list was sent to Gilan Holding for comment, but we received no response.