The Private Interests of Private Arbitration

To the reader of the saga about the fight between investors for the Vavilonskoye polymetallic ore field in the East Kazakhstan region: let us offer you our sincere apologies. We have misled you with the title of our previous publication “Who And Why Puts Arbitration on the Line”.

As it turns out, no one has put on the line Kazakhstan’s International Arbitration Court (or rather the LLP of the same name). Its founders and employees have done so themselves. And, by the looks of it, not only because of financial reasons.

But before we tell you how this happened and share the information provided by our insiders, let us remind you of the main purpose of this series – to demonstrate and to prove to potential foreign investors (the locals already know this full well) that the people/companies wishing to invest in Kazakhstan will have to take into account significantly more factors than those wishing to invest in the civilised countries.

For instance, they will have to take into consideration the unofficial capabilities of their competitors (opponents) and be prepared, at every corner and turn, to deal with dishonest people when buying (launching) a business and later, throughout the course of its life.

Let us be frank, as someone with little experience in the legal sphere, we have never expected Kazakhstan’s International Arbitration Court LLP (IAC) and its founders Maydan Suleymenov and Aydyn Bikebayev to become the “heroes” of our saga.

Recall, it is to this organisation that one non-existent legal body has sent its claim. In the numerous documents, this legal body is called by different names – “the Almaty Branch of Norton Rose Fulbright (Kazakhstan) Limited” and “Norton Rose Fulbright (Kazakhstan) Limited” – even though both have the same identification numbers (the BIN, for instance).

However, after the defendant had informed the IAC about this and many other “circumstances”, the organisation and its chairman Maydan Suleymenov responded in a very curious way. Instead of acknowledging their wrong and sending back the claim as well as the money received from Erzhan Kumarov for their “professional” services, they began insisting that they could still admit the debate to examination.  

Moreover, on behalf of the structure, an IAC employee continues to call the potential defendants demanding to select their arbitrator and participate in the proceedings.

We are not going to relate the IAC position. We will simply present a scan of the document titled “Case No. 156/2021 – Court Ruling”*.

It was signed into power by Chairman Maydan Suleymenov on July 16, 2021.

In our opinion, these seven pages collaborate what we have always been saying: in Kazakhstan, anything is possible even what seems impossible.

Apart from this document (you will find it at the end of the article), we also present a scan of the transfer made by Erzhan Kumarov into the IAC account. Interestingly, the transfer was made from his personal account and not from the account of the plaintiff company. The reasons are quite obvious: since the company has been liquidated, its bank account is now closed.

However, this did not preclude the successful legal team of Mr. Kumarov and Mr. Maydan Suleymenov et al. to do things that are likely to shock (or may be even induce a heart attack to) their foreign colleagues.

The sum of money the IAC is to receive (whatever the outcome) is quite substantial – 2179968 tenge. We especially would like to point it out since, according to our insiders, it is the financial factor that was crucial to the IAC’s decision to admit the claim to examination.

Consider, if the defendant would have agreed to the proceedings, even a single hearing and any ruling (favourable or not) would halve allowed the LLP to keep the money. However, the defendant refused to obey the plaintiff thinking that they do not want to participate in the unlawful arbitration trial and fearing that Erzhan Kumarov had beaten a path to this organisation as well. And then, events began to unfold in a way that’s made us look at the IAC through a fresh lens.

For the record, the Kazakh Ministry of Justice should be looking at it with fresh lenses as well.

Since the following information has been provided by a new source and cannot be verified at this point, we will present it with with the proviso “allegedly”.   

Now then, according to the said source, the mayhem that’s happening now can be explained by the fact that Maydan Suleymenov and Aydyn Bikebayev are in no way simple lawyers. Allegedly, among his narrow circle of friends, the latter often brags about his “protection blanket” aka Chairman of Kazakhstan’s Constitutional Council, former Chairman of Kazakhstan’s Supreme Court Kayrat Mami (again, allegedly).

As for Maydan Suleymenov, a very well-known attorney and a member of Kazakhstan’s Academy of Sciences, our source names him as the person who has had the crucial impact on the current arbitration law. More precisely, Mr. Suleymenov had allegedly written the law to accommodate his own interests which enabled him to found a private enterprise called the International Arbitration Court LLP and to ensure its productive business environment.

We have never researched the subject of arbitration but, according to our source, the courts, allegedly, have no right to overrule arbitration decisions. And this limitation of the state’s influence on the arbitration system is Academic Suleymenov’s baby.

According to the source, it is for this reason that the latter et al. fear that, to the Ministry of Justice and its head Marat Beketayev, this circumstance may serve as the investigation starter and that the Minister of Justice is going to do with arbitration what he has done with attorneys and lawyers – in other words, to take it under control (for instance, through introducing the licensing of the activities).

Unfortunately, we cannot release all the documents at our disposal for there are too many of them. However, we do hope that these documents will become a matter of study and dispute in the country.

For our part, we would like to say that foreign investors should not be misled by the name “Kazakhstan’s International Arbitration Court” and always remember that it is but a limited liability company, in other words, a private business registered and operating in Kazakhstan.

*Below see the scan of the document “Case No. 156/2021 – Court Ruling”


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