The Backstory of Bank RBK Problem

According on our sources, banker Zhomart Ertayev and businessmen Dinmukhamed Idrisov were the key persons that had had a hand in forming bank RBK’s gigantic problems. And even though both men have fled Kazakhstan, the story itself is nowhere near being finished.

Bank RBK and its problems, despite the optimistic statements of its new owner, its management, and certain experts, continues to be at the center of the authorities’ attention. Chairman of the National Bank of Kazakhstan Daniyar Akishev was the last one to speak on the subject in his interview to “Delovoy Kazakhstan” of December 21, 2017.

According to him, the authorities had to choose “not between good and not so good but between bad and very bad”. However, “inactiveness would have been even worse” and it is hard to say “what is worse and which decision would have led to more social losses – the funds spent to save the bank or the social costs we all, as a country, would have faced if the bank was not to be rescued”.

The National Bank Chairman, however, did not say even a word on how these problems had come into existence and who was responsible for them. The reasons for that are quite obvious. Despite the constant indirect demonstration of his professionalism, stamina, and independence, Daniyar Akishev, being Nursultan Nazarbayev’s team member, has to play by Akorda’s rules (the official and the unofficial ones). These rules include exercising omerta or not disclosing information that can be damaging to the image of the Kazakhstan authorities. As a result, everyone is aware of the serious problems in the banking circle but only a narrow circle of people is informed on how and why these problems came to be.

It is precisely this factor – the absence of real transparency – that is the main reason for the massive-scale distrust the Kazakhstanis have towards the authorities, both the political and the financial ones. Moreover, we are certain that Akishev is well aware of this fact but is restrained by the impossibility (the lack of the desire) to go against the rather influential figures in Nazarbayev’s circle.

We will confirm this observation by citing the aforementioned RBK example. Based on the insider information, Zhomart Ertayev and Dinmukhamed Idrisov were the key persons that had had a hand in forming bank RBK’s gigantic problems.

According to our sources, it was them that inflated RBK capital using the scheme that had been widespread during the first years of Kazakhstan independence when a bank gave loans to the trusted or dependent bodies, both physical and judicial, who returned the money to the bank as the capital. Zhomart Ertayev, once a long-term chairman of Alyans Bank, had paid his price for using precisely this scheme even though he all he got in the end was just a slap on the wrist.

Many players at the market knew that such a scheme had been widely used by Bank RBK. Moreover, the National Bank of Kazakhstan knew about it, too, but preferred to profess they had no information on the subject. Zhomat Ertayev’s and Dinmukhamed Idrisov’s connections in Akorda being the reason. Note that, according to the 2017 rating of Forbes Kazakhstan, Idrisov holds the 19th position on the list of the most influential Kazakhstan businessmen and the 20th – on the list of the most wealthy ones. He is also a close relative (the father of the son-in-law) of Head of the Mazhilis Nurlan Nigmatulin.

It was Ertayev and Idrisov of whom Nursultan Nazarbayev spoke at the Nur Otan pro-presidential party congress when he promised to take care of the RBK embezzlers: “I am well aware of this problem, I know what is going on there. This is that old matter of shareholders’ embezzling the funds and financing their own people. We will bring them to senses. The thieves will be at the places they ought to be at. We will try to stabilize the bank so that the shareholders and the physical bodies can get their funds back”.

According to our sources, Nazarbayev was mainly angry because it threatened the financial wellbeing of non-commercial Fund of the First President of Republic of Kazakhstan that, through its affiliated structure, Fond-Invest, was not only RBK shareholder but also kept quite substantial amounts there.

As a result, Zhomart Tokayev and Dinmukhamed Idrisov were forced to pay up but, since they were not able to pay much, chose to flee Kazakhstan. Now, according to our sources, the first one is laying low in Russia and the second one – in Singapore.

Apart from these men, billionaire Vladimir Kim was another victim of Nazarbayev’s anger. According to the sources, he, too, had used RBK to finance his projects (luckily, he was the bank’s shareholder). This circumstance allowed him to appoint his son-in-law Igor Mazhinov RBK Chairman in 2014.

As a result, Kim ended up investing 160 bln tenge in the bank’s rescue and became its practically sole owner with the prospect of being held responsible for everything in the case the bank, despite the massive state support, will still “sink”.

According to our sources, the leader of the nation held a rather heated talk with Head of Mazhilis Nurlan Nigmatulin as well. It was after this talk that Nigmatulin was admitted to the Astana Republic Cardiology Center where he underwent a heart surgery. Our sources acknowledge that, in reality, Nigmatulin, knowing Nazarbayev well and being an experienced and flexible courtier, could simply prefer to lie low in order not to irritate the leader of the nation and face new misfortunes.

Therefore, RBK’s problems, even though they share a common nature with the other banks of the sector, had been formed as a result of certain persons’ activities. Whether the guilty will be held responsible, as per usual Kazakhstan practice, depends not on what they did but on what connections they have in Akorda.

According to our sources, Zhomart Ertayev and Dinmukhamed Idrisov are currently collecting money to meet yet another payment to settle the obligations. We will not venture a guess whether they will be successful in their undertaking. However, there exists a high probability that, considering Ertayev’s previous banking practices, a criminal case against him is soon to emerge whereas Idrisov will perhaps get off only losing a part of his business to certain influential people who have direct access to Nursultan Nazarbayev and ability to put in a word for the guilty party.

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