Qazkom: The Game Is Up

An event of a historic significance not only for the banking sector and the national economy but for entire Kazakhstan took place on April 22, 2019. We are talking about the termination of Kazkommertsbank JSC’s operations and handing over the bank’s rights and responsibilities to Halyk Bank of Kazakhstan.

The announcement appeared on Halyk Bank’s website on April 24, 2019. We will quote its entire text given that the press-release is surprisingly short.

“Halyk Savings Bank of Kazakhstan JSC (hereinafter Halyk Bank of Kazakhstan JSC) informs on the completion of its voluntary reorganization in the form of the acquisition of Kazkommertsbank JSC and its merger with Halyk Bank of Kazakhstan JSC.

Based on Order #1303 issued by the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Kazakhstan on April 22, 2019, Kazkommertsbank JSC is excluded from the National Registry of the Business Identification Numbers and its operations have now been terminated.

Halyk Bank of Kazakhstan JSC is the subsequent proprietor of all Kazkommertsbank JSC’s rights and responsibilities”.

So, the first step of the country’s post-Soviet development and its final introduction to the stage of the state-monopoly capitalism as seen by the Bolsheviks’ leader Vladimir Ulyanov-Lenin has been completed de-jure.

Up until recently, competition has been retained, albeit relatively, in the banking sector. In the other leading industries of the national economy, it disappeared much earlier. This, in our opinion, was inevitable in the context of the Kazakh authoritarian political system and super-presidential vertical. Now, when the major elite clan headed by the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan occupies the leading position in the banking sector, everything has fallen into place.

We are going to devote a special report to this important topic and to the analysis of how the redivision of the banking sector and the concentration of power in the hands of the Leader of the Nation have been happening side-by-side. At this time, we will only remark that the elimination of Kazkommertsbank JSC from the list of the operating legal bodies does not at all mean that this financial institute is going to sink into oblivion. We believe its chances to serve, along with BTA Bank, as a cause for serious political squabbles in Akorda are rather high.

Of course, this can only happen after Nursultan Nazarbayev passes on and the process on the power transit in the country is no longer managed by a single command and control center. And then, the schemes, actions and expenses for the rescue of BTA Bank JSC and Kazkommertsbank JSC will be meticulously audited and reviewed, and the questions about them will be asked not just for the sake of it but as part of the intra-elite war. And the members of Nursultan Nazarbayev’s clan involved it the case are likely to find themselves in the firing line and will probably be unable to remain in one piece.

The talks of the dramatic worsening of the relationships between Dariga Nazarbayeva and Timur Kulibayev (Nursultan Nazarbayev’s eldest daughter and his second son-in-law) that have intensified in Astana lately as well as the rapid upsurge of Timur Kulibayev’s activities in the domestic information space indirectly confirm the possibility of such development.

Apart from that, as we have already noted in our publications, the unfortunate stories of Kaskommertsbank JSC and BTA Bank JSC may be used as an argument against current Kazakhstan’s Ambassador to Russia Imangali Tasmagambetov. If, after Nursultan Nazarbayev’s passing, the latter takes the dare to lay claims to the presidency. Then the fact that his son-in-law Kenes Rakishev had played a crucial role in the sale of BTA Bank’s and Kazkommertsbank’s distressed assets to the state-owned Problem Loans Fund will be assessed in a very different light.

Finally, we allow for the possibility that the cases of Kazkommertsbank JSC and BTA Bank JSC will someday become a legal basis for depriving the members of Nursultan Nazarbayev’s clan of all their properties including not only Halyk Savings Bank of Kazakhstan JSC and the shares in Kazakhstan’s major resource companies but also the shares in the foreign companies, the deposits in the foreign banks and the participatory interests in all kinds of investment funds.

With that, it is not necessarily Nazarbayev’s political opponents that may serve as the initiators of such development. We fully allow for the possibility that it may be the next leader of the state, for instance, Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev. Under the pressure of his environment and with the strong support on the part of the civil society and the majority of the ruling elite, he may easily go as far as profoundly redevising the property while keeping the loyalty to the policy line. Nothing personal, just business as they say. 


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