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Mukhtar Ablyazov Awaits Extradition Agreement

Mukhtar Ablyazov, a notorious Kazakhstan fraudster, was convicted of organizing the 2004 murder of Erzhan Tatishev, He was involved in investigations in four jurisdictions, namely Russia, Kazakhstan, United Kingdom, and the United States and was found guilty by courts of his peers. His political asylum claims were dismissed by the French court and so Ablyazov and his gang are now facing judgement. At the end of day, Mukhtar Ablyazov is merely a power-hungry criminal. Not more, not less. His case showed that the legal system does work, it puts the bad guys behind bars.

Ablyazov was found guilty of embezzlement and money laundering in the U.S. Court for $218 million against BTA Bank in December 2022. Triadou SPV S.A. is a shell company created and controlled by Ablyazov’s son-in-law Ilyas Khrapunov. Triadou received more than $70 million in money stolen from BTA, which it invested in real estate in New York City and elsewhere in the US.

“Mukhtar Ablyazov was found guilty of embezzlement and money laundering in the U.S. Court for $218 million against BTA Bank in December 2022.”

For the charges against BTA bank, Ablyazov has received various court sentences worldwide which led him to live on the run. In 2009, Ablyazov fled to London, where he lived with his wife and four children in luxurious Carlton House, in the Bishops Avenue area of north London. In 2011, the UK Home Office granted Ablyazov asylum amid claims that he had been the target of assassination attempts.

In February 2012, the UK High Court ruled that Ablyazov had committed serious and repeated breaches and sentenced him in absentia to 22 months in prison for contempt. However he managed to leave the UK to France two days earlier before the sentence was announced. In 2015, then French Prime Minister Mauel Valls signed off on his extradition, but France’s Asylum Court overruled it. France granted political asylum to Ablyazov in September 2020. But in December 2022, the National Court of Asylum (CNDA) of France rejected Ablyazov’s application for political asylum in France. This left the convicted criminal a few choices. Surrender for extradition, flee France to the usual crime sanctuaries in UAE or South America, or cut a deal surrendering to multiple counts of his corruption charges.

Ablyazov is also wanted in Russia and Ukraine, for suspicion of embezzling some $5-billion. The Moscow Tagansky District Court sentenced Ablyazov to 15 years in prison in absentia on embezzlement charges on December 29, 2020 after finding him guilty in a criminal case regarding the alleged embezzlement of 58 billion rubles ($790 million) between 2006 and 2009.

Apart of the embezzlement charges, Ablyazov has also been convicted in absentia on a murder charge and sentenced to life in prison by the court in Kazakhstan’s southern city of Taraz on Nov. 27, 2018. The court handed the sentence after finding Ablyazov guilty of organizing the 2004 murder of Erzhan Tatishev, the head of TuranAlem bank — which was later renamed BTA. After Tatishev’s death, which was ruled an accident at the time, Ablyazov became the bank’s chief.

Despite living abroad, Ablyazov claimed in an interview with Reuters that he was the leader of opposition and protests in Kazakhstan. He also urged Western states to interfere in the events in Kazakhstan to prevent the republic’s rapprochement with Russia. It is rather telling that none of the claims Ablyazov penned out.

Kazakhstan Deputy Foreign Minister Roman Vasilenko said that the Ablyazov case was an extraordinary issue related to law enforcement and the court system, not only in Kazakhstan, but also in Europe and the United States. Vasilenko added that trials related to Ablyazov would be held in the United States, Britain, and France with the participation of Kazakhstan’s Justice Ministry, the Almaty mayor’s office, and BTA bank.

Vasilenko confirmed that the meeting between Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev and French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on November 29, 2022 did not discuss the case of Ablyazov. His statement debunked the previous report of French newspaper Le Figaro that the two presidents talked about the case during the meeting.

The Kazakh government and parliament have done various efforts to bring Ablyazov back to the country. Mazhilis, the lower house of Kazakhstan’s parliament has approved the interstate agreement between France and Kazakhstan on criminal matters. However, the document will not be able to help Kazakhstani authorities make Ablyazov come back to the country due to an absence of arrangements for the mutual extradition of criminals with France, said Prosecutor General Aset Chindaliyev.

The agreement requires Kazakhstan and France to follow the rules of mutual legal assistance in anything linked to criminal matters. It is expected that by sticking to this practice, the two sides will be more effective in crime prevention.

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