On the Trial of Ablyazov in Russia

The first news on the start of the trial against former Chairman of BTA Bank’s Board of Directors Mukhtar Ablyazov and his affiliated persons accused of misappropriation of funds appeared as far back as last spring.

Here is a quote from the article «The Moscow-Area Court To Hear the Criminal Case of BTA Bank’s Former Chairman Ablyazov» that appeared on the website of the Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI) on April 29, 2019 (text in bold hereinafter by kz.expert).

«The Domodedovo Municipal Court is to hear the criminal case against former Chairman of BTA Bank’s Board of Directors Mukhtar Ablyazov and his affiliated persons in absentia, informs the website of the Russian General Prosecutor Office.

«Today, the Russian General Prosecutor Office has confirmed the verdict issued in relation to the case of former Chairman of BTA Bank’s Board of Directors Mukhtar Ablyazov, Chairman of the Management Board Roman Solodchenko as well as their subordinates Artur Trofimov, Igor Kononko, Tatyana Paraskevich, Anatoly Ereschenko and Alexander Udovenko«, says the press-release.

The figurants of this criminal case are accused of serious fraud, money laundering and infliction of serious damage to the bank. According to the investigators, over the period of 2006-2009, the accused parties had embezzled 58-plus bln rubles that belonged to BTA Bank by providing loans against security of land parcels. The accused had unlawfully terminated the mortgage contracts thus stripping the bank off the possibility to collect the proprietary securities.

«The accused parties are currently at large beyond the borders of the Russian Federation, the Russian authorities have been denied their extradition«, says the press-release of the Russian Public Prosecutor Office».

On January 17, 2020, the RAPSI released a new article on the same resonant subject titled «On January 31, the Court Is to Begin the Hearings of the Large-Scale Embezzlements in BTA Bank». It states that the criminal case against Ablyazov and his affiliated persons will be tried by the Tagansky Court Moscow (quoting):

«On January 31, the Tagansky Court of the Moscow city begins the hearings of the criminal case against former Chairman of BTA Bank’s Board of Directors Mukhtar Ablyazov related to the embezzlement of more than 58 mln rubles from the bank, the RAPSI correspondent reports from the court. On Friday, the Court was unable to start the proceedings due to the absence of the entrepreneur’s defender.

The accused parties also include former Chairman of BTA Bank’s Board of Directors Mukhtar Ablyazov, Chairman of the Management Board Roman Solodchenko as well as other former employees of the bank: Artur Trofimov, Igor Kononko, Tatyana Paraskevich, Anatoly Ereschenko and Alexander Udovenko.

The figurants of the criminal case are currently in Europe and their extradition has been requested not only by Russia but by Kazakhstan and Ukraine as well. The Moscow Court will review the case in absentia».

«The investigators believe that Ablyazov „had developed several complicated schemes of funding the large-scale investment projects located on the territory of the Russian Federation that enabled him to systematically embezzle the monetary resources from the Kazakh bank in an especially large amount“,

The case consists of about 400 volumes. Ablyazov is accused of 9 instances of embezzlement in an especially large amount (Part 4 of Article 159 of the Russian Criminal Code), 3 instances of legalizing properties received as a result of committing the crime (Part 3 of Article 174.1 of the Russian Criminal Code), abuse of authorities (Part 2 of Article 201 of the Russian Criminal Code) and infliction of serious damage via conspiring to commit fraud (Sections „a“, „b“ of Part 3 of Article 165 of the Russian Criminal Code)».  

These quotes may have one believe that there will be two trials related to the Ablyazov case in Russia. But this is not so. According to our sources, the Domodedovo Municipal Court has already reviewed, and the Tagansky District Court of Moscow will review the same criminal case.

It’s just that the Russian Public Prosecutor Office had first sent the criminal case to the Domodedovo Municipal Court since the two thousand-plus ha of the land arrested as part of the investigation are located in Domodedovo. However, the judge had only prolongated the arrest of the land parcels and then transferred the criminal case to Moscow or, to be more precise, to the Tverskoy District Court to be reviewed on the merits. After these intra-departmental proceedings, the resonant case has reached the Tagansky District Court of Moscow and, by the looks of it, it will be this court that brings in the guilty verdict.

We are 200% certain that this is what the verdict is going to be. To those who are in doubt or do not agree with us, we recommend searching the Internet for the publications of the no longer operating website of Respublika. Citing the documents and the correspondence of the top-officials of the Russian and Kazakh Public Prosecutor Offices, these publications will show how Akorda had been trying, via every legal and illegal means, to «get» Mukhtar Ablyazov, what kinds of methods it employed, how it used the political instruments including the direct requests of Nursultan Nazarbayev to Vladimir Putin as well as the contacts between the Presidential Administrations of the two states.

Thus, Mukhtar Ablyazov who, up until today, has been the biggest known political opponent of Nazarbayev is facing yet another legal battle with the Kazakh authorities. On the other hand, Ablyazov who has already been sentenced to 20 years in prison following the accusation of embezzlement of the monetary resources from BTA Bank JSC and then received life sentence for the alleged conspiracy to commit the murder of his friend and business-partner Erzhan Tatishev is not too worried about that.

According to our sources, Ablyazov is not going to participate in the Moscow trial. Most likely, the problem lies in fact that he does not have a lawyer (it is due to this problem that the Tagansky Court was unable to start the hearings on Friday, January 17, 2020).

It is worth mentioning that most of the accused parties have, one way or another, refused to participate in the proceedings, therefore they will be defended by court-appointed lawyers. Hoping that the latter will be able to achieve any results is futile. At the same time, the authorities will not be able to use this guilty verdict to successfully insist on Mukhtar Ablyazov’s extradition from France to Russia even though the pro-governmental Internet-resources have recently talked about this possibility.

We are not sure if the Kazakh media is going cover this trial and if the Kazakh Ministry of Justice will be interested in that. For, during the examination of the case’s 400-plus volumes in the Russian court, all kinds of oddities and trumped up charges may creep out.

Moreover, the creeping out has already begun. For instance, the court has received a letter in which Kazakhstan is officially dismissing the claims against Artur Trofimov — the same Artur Trofimov who, at the start of last year, was arrested in Uzbekistan, then voluntarily agreed to be deported to Kazakhstan (allegedly) where he gave his «sincere» testimony and then was safely released even though his name was on the international most-wanted list at the instigation of the Russian law-enforcement agencies. According to the sources, the judge of the Tagansky District Court has decided to review Trofimov’s case separately, so the accusations against him are most likely to be dismissed.

All mentioned above, however, is but an introduction to an expert-knowledge-based forecast. The thing is that the case of the battle between Mukhar Ablyazov and Nursultan Nazarbayev is still awaiting its researches.  

Let us remind you that the battle started more than 20 years ago when Ablyazov was serving as the Minister of Energy in Kazakhstan’s Government. The battle took the open form in November 2002 after the creation of the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan civic movement. Then, it went back to the hidden form after Ablyazov was pardoned in May 2003. And it became public again in January 2009 after the seizure of BTA Bank JSC by the state.

However, some forecasts can be made even today (without the research). For instance, we can say that the funds spent by the state on the «war» against Mukhtar Ablyazov have long surpassed a billion dollars. And, according to our estimates, the total losses of the state budget, the National Fund of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the quasi-governmental structure suffered as a result of this war constitute 20 $-plus bln.

However, this is not even the worst thing for the current residents of the Library. The desire to «get» Ablyazov at whatever cost had forced them to dig the «holes» so deep that they themselves can easily fall into them and not find a way out. The thing is that, by spending hundreds of millions of dollars and employing dozens of legal agencies in several countries, Akorda, on one hand, has stripped Mukhtar Ablyazov off serious financial capabilities and locked him within the French borders.

On the other hand, however, the Kazakh state agencies have tried and tested the practices of searching for big monetary resources around the globe, of the successful cooperation with private legal and investigative agencies abroad, with foreign law-enforcement structures, the agencies of financial monitoring and control. Also, they have established a crowd of precedents which is very important for the countries with the precedent law, for instance, the UK.

We will not try and forecast but anyone may find themselves in the line of fire since Kazakhstan’s ruling elite has no honest and clean-fingered people (starting from the First President and ending with a local «oligarch») and the process of the initial accumulation of capital in the country was but a blatant robbery of the state and the citizens.

Currently, we are preparing a special investigative report on how certain representatives of Nursultan Nazarbayev’s family had been «earning» literally billions of dollars in the period of up to 2008 in the not-too-subtle a fashion and, therefore, can say with certainty that, with all their experience in persecuting Mukhar Ablyazov, the Kazakh law-enforcement agencies are quite able complete the task. Provided they have the order from the above and the necessary funding.

This is the thing that not only the «Leader of the Nation», the members of his family and his allies but the overwhelming majority of Kazakhstan’s ruling elite are afraid of the most. With that, all of them understand that, if a revolution or a coup d’etat happen, it is they who risk becoming their first victims owing to that simple reason that they have what can be taken away. And it is this understanding (or premonition) that forces them to support the conservative block in the current power-structure.

However, it is obvious that they won’t be able to sit at the point of bayonets for long.


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