As thousands of ethnic Armenians stream toward the border amid Azerbaijan’s attacks on the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave, a lawsuit filed in federal court in Washington lays out how a leading U.S. political dynasty – which includes a sitting governor – is profiting from the humanitarian disaster becomes .
Azerbaijan attacked the breakaway region earlier this month after long blocking the key aid corridor from Armenia, violating a 2020 Russia-brokered ceasefire. The Daily Beast provided an exclusive eyewitness account of the looming exodus last week of Nagorno-Karabakh families trying to escape the violence.
The attack marked the latest phase of a long-running Caucasus conflict that dates back to the early 20th century and erupted with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, when the province declared independence and gained autonomy from Azerbaijan with the help of Armenia. Nevertheless, the international community considers the area to be part of Azerbaijan despite its ethnic Armenian majority.
A lawsuit filed in July describes how the Sununu family — led by patriarch John Sununu, the former New Hampshire governor and former White House chief of staff — secured shares and positions in a U.K.-based company in recent years from Baku mining rights within the province, rights that only reconquest by Azerbaijan could guarantee. Public records, news reports and corporate filings support many of the lawsuit’s factual allegations.
More than that, loudly Federal records The NBC News In an investigation into the dynasty’s interests in the Amazon, it was discovered that a family investment vehicle has held some shares in the British company in the past – a vehicle from which incumbent New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu still generates income. Granite State’s general manager was the only member of the Sununu family to comment for this story.
“The governor has absolutely no involvement in the operations of Anglo Asian Mining or the operations of Sununu Holdings,” the sitting governor’s press team wrote to The Daily Beast in response to questions about both the gold and copper miner and the clan’s eponymous holding company.
But the Republican, beloved by some for his criticism of former President Donald Trump, did not answer repeated questions about what financial benefits he might reap from Anglo Asian’s activities. Nor did his office promise that the governor would forego any proceeds from the company’s future operations in Nagorno-Karabakh to avoid profiting from Azerbaijan’s alleged ethnic cleansing. His 84-year-old father now controls nearly 10 percent of the metal mining company, making him the company’s second-largest shareholder, according to the most recent company reports available.
The biggest is President and CEO Mohammad Reza Vaziri, the defendant in the lawsuit filed by a Nagorno-Karabakh resident with support from a U.S. foundation allied with Armenia. Neither Vaziri nor his lawyers responded to repeated requests for comment, and Anglo Asian declined to comment other than to point The Daily Beast to the company’s filings with the London Stock Exchange. Although Vaziri is at the center of the litigation, the complaint refers by name not only to John and Chris, but also to Michael Sununu, the sitting governor’s brother and local New Hampshire politician.
The lawsuit dates family man Sununu’s involvement in Vaziri’s Azerbaijani adventures to 1997, when the company first struck a deal with the authoritarian state to gain access to its metal reserves. News reports listed from this year GOP statesman is among Baku’s suitors for mining opportunities, but is the earliest document The Daily Beast could find of a direct stake in Anglo Asian comes from 2005, when he joined the board. The lawsuit also alleges that Sununu has an interest in at least one of Vaziri’s private companies, which The Daily Beast could not independently confirm.
From the beginning, the lawsuit says, Anglo Asian sought and received mining concessions in Nagorno-Karabakh – concessions that the company did not have access to due to the territory’s autonomous status. His interest increased January 2016 with the completion of an Armenian-owned copper and molybdenum processing plant in the provincial town of Demirli. An image of the website soon graced the cover of Azerbaijani Government report on Yerevan’s economic presence in “the occupied territories.”
The lawsuit highlights several subsequent events: on March 31 This year, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev met with John Sununu when he visited Washington, D.C., and the next day Azerbaijani troops attacked Nagorno-Karabakh, a move that the lawsuit alleges targeted Demirli. After four days of fighting, Aliyev’s forces withdrew.
But Azerbaijan reclaimed some of the territory four and a half years later, prompting Anglo Asian to applaud what it called in a statement to shareholders The Liberation” one of its mining concession zones. After a month and a half of fighting, Moscow intervened to end the bloodshed and resumed its traditional role as a guarantor of security in its old imperial domains.
Weeks later, according to the lawsuit, Anglo Asian appointed Michael Sununu — the founder of Sununu Holdings, the company from which Chris Sununu derives income — to its board. This means that of the company five directorstwo are now members of the Sununu family.
Almost exactly a year after the conflict began in 2020, Anglo Asian received the first Azerbaijani permits to use two sites in the still autonomous parts of Nagorno-Karabakh, including the Demirli facility.
“The recent cessation of hostilities with Armenia has provided Anglo Asian with an opportunity to develop its remaining treaty territories,” Vaziri said MiningWeekly by the time. “After extensive negotiations, we are delighted to have secured two additional highly strategic mining properties.”
In December 2022, Azerbaijan access required to one of the mines as a condition for the restoration of the food, medicine and fuel route from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh. The move came exactly a week after Anglo Asian written letters to the US, Britain, the United Nations and the European Union, which complain about “illegal mining” at their concession sites in the disputed region.
Despite these efforts, since June of this year Anglo Asian reported It was not possible to access these locations and the blockade of the corridor continued despite international condemnation Accusations of genocide.
However, on September 26, Anglo Asian had good news for its shareholders.
“There have been reports in the press that the Azerbaijani government has regained control of the Demirli/Kyzlbulag mine, which lies in our contracted areas,” a senior executive wrote in one London Stock Exchange Report. “I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all employees and partners of Anglo Asian and the Government of Azerbaijan for their continued support as times continue to be challenging.”
The lawsuit against the company is ongoing, and Vaziri’s attorneys have not yet filed a response to the lawsuit. Michael Sununu declined to comment for this story. His father did not respond to repeated calls and emails.