On April 7, 2021, First Heartland Jusan Bank formerly known as Tsesnabank drew attention to itself again. It informed the KASE that, on March 30, its Board of Directors made a decision to repurchase 3141054 ordinary shares from its shareholders at a price of 2127.37 tenge per share; with that, the payment is to be made via bank transfer no later than April 2.
A little later, this information was repeated by some Kazakh media resources while the Capital Centre of Business Information informed that the bank, on the grounds of commercial confidentiality, did not respond to the media’s question of who exactly took on the role of the seller.
As a result, a certain mystery has been created. For the list of First Heartland Bank’s major shareholders includes the following names and titles -
— First Heartland Securities JSC, an investment division of the financial holding company of the group of independent educational organisations — Nazarbayev University, Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools and Nazarbayev Foundation,
— Galimzhan Esenov, a citizen of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
As you may recall, the latter is a son-in-law (or rather former son-in-law) of Akhmetzhan Esimov, Nursultan Nazarbayev’s nephew and, until recently, the Chairman of the Management Board of the Samruk-Kazyna Sovereign Welfare Fund.
Since the said selling/purchasing transaction is equal to 6.682 bln tenge (at the April 2, 2021 exchange rate it constitutes about US15.6 $ mln). Since this sum is rather significant for Mr. Esenov and is not significant for First Heartland Securities JSC, we are going to venture a guess that the former is more likely to have taken on the role of the seller.
Moreover, since the transaction was completed between March 30 and April 2, 2021, in other words, literally on the next day after Akhmetzhan Esimov’s resignation from the post of the Chairman of Samruk-Kazyna’s Management Board that took place on March 29, we are going to venture a guess that 6.682 bln tenge or the biggest chunk of this sum was intended for him and no other.
We are not to take wild guesses as to whether this was his severance pay, a downpayment or simply a one-time pay but we won’t be surprised if this scheme will be employed again in the future.
The thing is that, even though entrepreneur Galimzhan Esenov is no longer Akhmetzhan Esimov’s relative, he still hasn’t released himself from financial obligations towards the latter. This, among other things, means that he will have to either earn a lot of money (in order to settle accounts with his former father-in-law and his family for the funds he invested in ATFBank) which will be quite difficult given the current circumstances or sell his shares to the bank or to the second shareholder.
In relation to this case, we are interested not only in the aforementioned transaction (that could have resulted from the fact that, nowadays, it is hard for major shareholders of financial institutes to obtain loans in their banks at a minimal interest rate). We are also interested in the fact that former Tsesnabank (that we now call First Heartland Juan Bank) is still performing the role of the Nazarbayev clan’s «wallet».
KZ.expert has devoted a number of publications to the subject of Tsesnabank and of how it had been moved from the hands of former Head of Presidential Administration Adilbek Dzhaksybekov to the hands of the family of the First President and then saved at public expense (in other words, at the expense of all the Kazakh citizens). Below is the list of the most important articles.
We are presenting these publications here so that the reader, upon familiarising themselves with them, may ask the following questions -
- If Tsesnabank was saved by Akorda and the Library at public expense and then went to Nursultan Nazarbayev’s family for next to nothing, can it be classified as misuse of public funds in especially big amount?
- If yes, then can the repurchasing of First Heartland Jusan Bank’s shares from the shareholders be classified as laundering these misused funds via completing a formally legal transaction?
We ourselves are not sure that we are going to learn the answers to these questions any time soon. Unfortunately, there is likelihood that, if the Kazakh authoritarian political system, with minor alterations, will be preserved for say another thirty years, this case is going to be forgotten just like other such cases were. For instance, the case of Timur and Dinara Kulibayevs (the Elbasy’s daugher and son-in-law) getting (practically stealing) Kazakhstan’s former Sberbank and turning it into the Halyk Bank of Kazakhstan.