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Vahe Sarukhanyan

Anglo Asian Mining in Artsakh: Iranian Businessman, U.S. Career Politician Own Majority Shares

Part 1

As we wrote in part one of this article, Baku has its eye on the Kashen copper-molybdenum mine in the eastern part Artsakh’s Martakert region.

This is the mine the so-called Azerbaijani eco-activists who have closed the Stepanakert-Goris highway, the only land link connecting Artsakh and Armenia, since December 12, say they want access to, alleging Armenians are illegally engaged in mining operations there.

A major player in Azerbaijan’s mining industry is Anglo Asian Mining PLC, a British firm operating in Azerbaijan.

The Kashen mine, which the Azerbaijanis and the British company call Demirli, is one of the eight territories that Baku has granted Anglo Asian. The Kyzlbulag territory (in Artsakh’s Martakert and Askeran regions) is the other site still under the control of Stepanakert.

Azerbaijan gets shares of Anglo Asian mining revenue

According to the Production Sharing Agreement between Baku and the British company, Anglo Asian can receive a maximum of 75% of the revenue generated from the sale of minerals, which is intended to compensate the costs incurred by the company. The rest of the revenue (minimum 25%) is divided between the parties as follows: the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Azerbaijan – 51%, the British firm – 49%. Thus, a maximum of 87.75 % of the revenue generated from the sale of minerals belongs to the British company, and the rest (12.25%) belongs to Azerbaijan.

In addition, the company pays 32 % corporate tax.

British company expands global operations

Although Anglo Asian Mining was founded in September 2004 in London, where it is still legally registered, its operations address is Baku. Until January of this year, the British company carried out mining activities exclusively in Azerbaijan.

In January of this year, Anglo Asian Mining completed a deal to acquire a 19.8% stake in the Canadian Libero Copper & Gold Corporation, which is exploring copper-molybdenum and copper-gold deposits in Colombia, Canada and Argentina.

Anglo Asia directors own 43% of company

As of September 20, 2022, 43% of Anglo Asian shares are owned by its directors and related persons.

Iran native Mohammad Reza Vaziri is the main shareholder (29%). He fled the country after the 1979 revolution, settling in the United States, and now serves as company president and CEO.

A subject of the Shah of Iran, Reza Vaziri, settled in the United States after the revolution

69-year-old Vaziri entered the mining sector of Azerbaijan in 1997 with the American RV Investment Group Services LLC, by signing an agreement with the government of that country, but he started active activities only in the second half of the 2000s with the British Anglo Asian Mining PLC.

RV Investment Group Services was founded in 1996 in the US state of Delaware, considered a "tax haven". According to Anglo Asian Mining's website, the American company is currently its subsidiary.

Vaziri was a high-ranking official in the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s government until the 1979 Islamic Revolution overthrew the Shah. Vaziri fled Iran and has operated in the USA, Great Britain and Azerbaijan, countries whose relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran today are, to put it mildly, unfriendly.

Vaziri is also the founder and lifetime co-chairman of the board of directors of the US-Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce, and as stated on the Anglo Asian Mining website, "dedicates much of his time furthering business relations between the two countries." This organization has an Honorary Board of Advisors that includes James Baker (former U.S. Secretary of State, former Secretary of the Treasury, former White House Chief of Staff), former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu, and former U.S. Secretary of State and former Security Adviser to the President Henry Kissinger. The chamber also has a board of trustees, whose members are Ilham Aliyev, Azerbaijani Ambassador to the U.S. Elin Suleymanov, and former Deputy Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Hafiz Pashayev.

The Anglo Asian Mining website mentions that Reza Vaziri lives in Baku, London and Washington. In the documents available in the British registry, Reza Vaziri is mentioned as a U.S. citizen, the country of residence is Azerbaijan, but the London registration address of Anglo Asian Mining is presented as a contact address. However, it is not as if Vaziri, a U.S. citizen, does not have a home in the U.S. His family owns one of the mansions in the city of Bethesda, Maryland, close to the capital Washington (see below).

Reza Vaziri, however, is not limited to the 28.67% registered in his name in Anglo Asian Mining. 3.53% of the British company belongs to Limelight Industrial Developments Limited, whose beneficial owner is Yasamin Vaziri Lotfinezhad since April of this year. The latter is related to Reza Vaziri. In other words, the Vaziris own 32.2% of Anglo Asian Mining.

In 2019, Yasmin Vaziri published photos of the underground mine and factory in Gedabek, as well as from Baku, on her Facebook page

John Sununu clan

The other major shareholder (9.38%) of the British company is 83-year-old John Henry Sununu who was the Republican Governor of New Hampshire (1983-1989) and White House Chief of Staff under George H. W. Bush (1989-1991).

Michael Charles Sununu, one of John’s eight children, is a non-executive director on the board of Anglo Asian. Michael Sununu is also a member of the board of directors of the above-mentioned Canadian Libero Copper & Gold Corporation.

John Sununu's son, Christopher Thomas Sununu, also a Republican, has served as Governor of New Hampshire since 2017.

Small shareholders

80-year-old Khosrow Zamani, chairman of the company's board of directors, has a 1.24% stake in Anglo Asian Mining. Zamani is an independent non-executive director. Zamani, an Iranian native who is a US citizen, has worked in the financial and banking system, including in Turkey and Serbia.

0.3% of the British company belongs to 80-year-old British professor John Monhemius of Imperial College London, who is also a member of the board of directors as an independent non-executive director. Monhemius has more than forty years’ experience in academic and industrial research in the field of metallurgy.

Vaziri and Sununu turn Ottoman Mining into Anglo Asian Operations

Anglo Asian Mining PLC’s subsidiary is another London-based mining company, Anglo Asian Operations Limited, which was founded seven months earlier than the first. It is natural, because the company, which was registered in February 2004, had no connection with Mohammad Reza Vaziri from the beginning, the name was different: Ottoman Mining Limited.

The mention of the Ottoman Empire in the name suggests the company had some connection with the Turks. However, among its initial large and small shareholders, there are only two names of Turks, whose shares are not large.

In January 2005, Reza Vaziri and John Sununu became directors of Ottoman Mining Limited, and a few months later it was renamed Anglo Asian Operations Limited. Currently, the directors of the company are father and son John and Michael Sununu.

Thus, we see the two main shareholders of the British company with its eyes on Artsakh are Iranian businessman Reza Vaziri, who has close ties with the Baku regime, and the Sununu family of U.S. politicians.

Top photo: the Gedabek mining complex operated by Anglo Asian Mining

Comments (3)

Arik Harutunyan
These comments are factless and biased opinions. The soviet union collapsed and Nagorno Karabakh/Artsakh is part of today Azerbaijan. Armenia and Azerbaijan need to get along.
Artin Terhakopian, MD
I agree with Dr. Antonian. Your exellent research will reach a larger audience if it is placed on Wikipedia. This is how we know who the backroom and often corrupt actors are. Thank you.
Lida Antonian
Dear Mr. Vahe Sarukhanyan, I am following the news about the Lachin Corridor blockade. Your investigative journalism has published valuable facts about the Anglo-Asian mining activities, which are having a direct impact on the blockade. The world at large is ignorant of these facts. I urge you to include these facts on Wikipedia. Wikipedia is a fact-driven source and often used by all in the United States. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2022_blockade_of_the_Republic_of_Artsakh Thank you for your excellent work. Lida Antonian, PhD California, USA

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