Debt-Troubled Azerbaijan Spending Big on Islamic Games, Formula 1 and Mariah Carey
Just as its largest, government-owned bank defaults on its liabilities, Azerbaijan is shelling out on grand, lavishly mounted sports events and international celebrities, with no end in sight.
The Islamic Solidarity Games, a ten-day, multi-sport competition fashioned as the Olympics of the Muslim world, kicked off in Baku on May 12. It was a glamorous opening, complete with singing, dancing, fireworks, horses, camels and donkeys. A day earlier, it transpired that the International Bank of Azerbaijan (IBA), kept on life support by the Azerbaijani government, could not meet payments on dollar-denominated debt.
The IBA, the nation’s largest lender, asked foreign creditors to accept its plan to restructure $3.3-billion in debt, and sought US court protection from creditors while it tries to work its way out of debt.
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