Mukhtar Ablyazov: The End of the Road?

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Paris, Brussels (13/7 – 37.5)

Mukhtar Ablyazov, a fugitive Kazakh businessman, was sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment for murder in Kazakhstan. He was also convicted for embezzlement and money laundering in Kazakhstan. In Russia, the former banker was sentenced to 15 years for embezzling nearly 60 billion rubles (est. 666 million US dollars).

In the recent development in the case against him, the French authorities have demanded that Ablyazov, the former head of Kazakhstan’s BTA Bank, leave the country within the next 30 days. He announced this on his Facebook page. Ablyazov’s extradition includes sought by Kazakhstan, Russia, the Ukraine, the Ukraine and the United States. The former banker has been in Europe for more than ten years.

The fugitive also posted a video message on his page, stating that he previously obtained political asylum in France. Le Figaro reported last December that his refugee status was revoked by a French court. Currently, he has neither a visa nor a passport.

“I have been given 30 days to leave France. I am suing,” Ablyazov wrote.

Ablyazov added that the court hearings against him in France will resume soon, and during that time, he is prohibited from leaving the country. The proceedings in the French court regarding episodes of his abuse of power and money laundering are scheduled and have resumed at the end May.

Former head of Kazakhstan’s BTA Bank, Mukhtar Ablyazov has received an order from the French authorities to leave the country within 30 days. He announced this on his Facebook page.

Ablyazov had left Kazakhstan in 2009 after the bank he previously led, BTA Bank, was declared bankrupt and then nationalized. For his crimes in Kazakhstan, the former banker was sentenced in absentia to 20 years in prison for embezzlement, money laundering and abuse of power and was given a life sentence on charges of murder of the former head of the BTA bank, Yerzhan Tatishev.

Back in 2015, the then-French Prime Minister Manuel Valls signed a decision to extradite Ablyazov to Russia, but later the State Council of France cancelled this decision, seeing in the request “the pursuit of political goals.” The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office subsequently stated that Paris had violated the “principle of inevitability of punishment for committed crimes.”

At the end of 2020, the Tagansky District Court in Moscow sentenced Ablyazov in absentia to 15 years in prison for embezzling almost 60 billion rubles (est. 666 million US dollars). In Ukraine, the former banker is accused of embezzling $400 million rubbles (est. 4.4 million US dollars). While Kazakhstan does not have an extradition agreement with France, France however has such an extradition agreement with the Russia and Ukraine.

Ablyazov was found guilty of embezzlement and money laundering in the U.S. Court for $218 million against BTA Bank last December. The jury awarded BTA more than $100 million in damages with interest accrued since mid-2013, bringing the total judgment to more than $218 million.

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