German Parliamentarian Implicated in Azerbaijan Laundromat Dies

German lawmaker and member of the ruling Christian Democratic Union, Karin Strenz, died on Saturday while traveling privately from Cuba to Germany. Strenz was implicated in the Azerbaijani Laundromat, a EU-wide lobbying and money laundering scheme revealed by OCCRP in 2017.

The Laundromat scheme was a complex money-laundering operation and slush fund that handled $2.9 billion over a two-year period. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)The Laundromat scheme was a complex money-laundering operation and slush fund that handled $2.9 billion over a two-year period. (Photo: Olaf Kosinsky, Wikimedia, License)According to media reports, Strenz fell unconscious as the plane from Havana to Frankfurt am Main was crossing the Atlantic. Pilots decided to land in Ireland where Strenz was taken to a hospital but upon arrival doctors could only determine her death.

The Laundromat scheme was a complex money-laundering operation and slush fund that handled US$2.9 billion over a two-year period through shell companies registered in the U.K.

Among the many things the money allegedly bought was silence if not praise from western officials even as Azerbaijan’s government arrested scores of human rights and anti-corruption activists as well as journalists. 

In 2020 German authorities raided Strenz’s home and office as part of their investigation into her involvement in the scheme. Via a lobbying company, she allegedly received at least $24,270 to lobby for the Azerbaijani regime while she was a member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).