20 november 2017

Central Asia news

Two accomplices of banker and dissident Mukhtar Ablyazov voluntarily returned to Kazakhstan

17.10.2017 22:47 msk

Ferghana


The internationally wanted accomplices of the ex-head of BTA Bank, Mukhtar Ablyazov, voluntarily returned to Kazakhstan, Interfax reports referring to the Kazakh National Anti-Corruption Bureau.

Two people from Moscow arrived in the republic on 16 October: Maxim Khablov, a former lawyer of the BTA Bank corporate business department, and Anar Abdikhaimova, the nominal head of companies controlled by Ablyazov. The authorities suspect them of complicity in the theft of BTA Bank money.

Despite the fact that Khablov and Abdikhaimova obtained Russian citizenship, which prevents their extradition to Kazakhstan, they turned to the National Anti-Corruption Bureau in writing saying that they are ready to cooperate with the investigation.

The bureau noted that it is not the first case of the voluntary return of suspects to Kazakhstan in the case of the theft of BTA Bank money. In July and September, Erzhan Kadesov voluntarily arrived from Budapest, formerly being the deputy head of the department for problem loans under Ablyazov, and Zaure Djunusova, the former deputy head of the corporate business department.

Kazakh authorities wanted them since 2009 arresting Kadesov and Djunusova in absentia, but softening this measure of restraint after their return to their homeland. Now, as the message say they help the investigation.

According to the Zakon.kz site, these defendants of the Ablyazov case returned to Kazakhstan fully admitting their guilt. They told the investigators that they were nominal executives of the disgraced banker's companies and signed all the necessary documents on his instructions.

They explained the mass escape of BTA Bank employees from the country after the embezzlement case against Ablyazov had emerged by intimidation from the accomplices of the banker. "Intimidations continued abroad, thereby preventing them (employees) from returning to Kazakhstan," the report says.

Mukhtar Ablyazov in the late 1990s worked in the government of Kazakhstan, was Minister of Energy, Industry and Trade. In 2001, he co-founded the opposition Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan movement. The court found him guilty of abuse of office and sentenced to six years in prison in 2002.

The Kazakh authorities pardoned Ablyazov in 2003 releasing him in exchange for a promise not to engage in politics. He headed the board of directors of BTA Bank since 2005.

The authorities started new criminal proceedings against Ablyazov (he then fled the country) and his accomplices in 2009 accusing of creating and directing the criminal community, the theft of BTA Bank money and their legalisation and abuse of authority. The investigation found that the stolen funds were pension deposits of the population, personal savings of citizens of Kazakhstan and loans from foreign financial institutions.

The French authorities detained Ablyazov on 31 July 2013. In August of the same year, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Ukraine independently requested for his extradition. Paris agreed to extradite him to Russia, where the banker would stand trial over charges of embezzlement, fraud, and legalisation of the stolen goods. But the State Council of France, acting also as the supreme court of the country, abolished this decision on 9 December 2016 stating that the request for extradition was politically motivated and released the banker from custody.

Kazakhstan sentenced Ablyazov in absentia to 20 years of imprisonment with confiscation of property and a fine. The court convicted three more BTA Bank top managers along with him: the chairman of the bank's board Saduakas Mamesh and the chairman of the credit committee Zhaksylyk Zharimbetov, each of them to five years' of suspended imprisonment. The court sentenced lending director of the bank Kairat Sadykov to 15 years in prison with his property confiscation and depriving him of the right to engage in a professional activity for three years.

Fergana News Agency