The former head of Azerbaijan's largest bank has been sentenced to 15 years imprisonment over an alleged scheme to remove billions of dollars from the bank.

Jahangir Haijyev stepped down as head of the majority state-owned International Bank of Azerbaijan last year, around the time an investigation was launched into the bank's management.

Authorities said some loans were made out to businesses associated with the bank management, and others in the names of bank security staff, with some funds sent to offshore companies.

The Finance Ministry said several billion dollars may have been misappropriated in total.

Hajiyev faced charges including fraud and abuse of power, though his lawyer argued the investigation had not been objective.

In addition to the prison term, Hajiyev was fined 63.08 million manat ($39.2 million).