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$138 billion offshored from Kazakhstan

International estimates suggest that the money offshored from Kazakhstan amounts to $138 billion, Tengrinews reports. This figure was given at a meeting of the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs of Kazakhstan that gathered to discuss combating corruption and shadow economy earlier this week.

According to Tax Justice Network, Kazakhstan is among the ten countries notorious for offshoring money. The most popular destinations that Kazakhstanis offshore their money to are the Netherlands, Britain, Switzerland, the Virgin Islands, Cyprus, and Luxembourg.

However, the foreign law enforcement agencies are not in a rush to disclose information about Kazakhstani owners of the offshore accounts to the Kazakhstan Government. They are delaying provision of information and drawing on inquiries. 

"The notorious [ex-]mayor of the Southern capital [Almaty] and his family declared only $5.3 million in their income reports," Deputy Prosecutor General of Kazakhstan Andrey Kravchenko said about Victor Khrapunov. "But then he suddenly became one of the richest people in Switzerland... And here is another interesting detail: an airplane flew off to Switzerland [from Almaty] loaded with something unspecified. We still do not know what it was, even though we sent an inquiry to the Swiss authorities. I wonder what he brought to the country and what he declared in the customs bill of entry," Kravchenko said.

"Nearly 100 million Swiss francs have been frozen on Swiss accounts of the brother of a former Kazakhstan governor," he said about Amanzhan Ryskaliyev, brother of ex-governor of Atyrau Oblast Bergey Ryskaliyev. But we see that when we send inquiries to the Western law enforcement authorities it takes them several months or even a year to reply. But criminals don't sit waiting [for their accounts to be frozen]. They deal with the money very quickly and transfer them elsewhere," the Deputy Prosecutor General of Kazakhstan said.

In the meanwhile the chairman of Kazakhstan Financial Integrity public foundation Asem Akkozha said at the meeting: "We should consider conducting the “offshore amnesty” in Kazakhstan, for the businessmen who want to voluntarily return to Kazakhstan and not be prosecuted. So that the [offshore] companies founded and owned by Kazakhstani individuals and legal entities, can freely and without persecution re-register here in Kazakhstan."

Offshore amnesty is a frequently observed phenomenon in developing countries, though the mechanism by which this is accomplished varies. The heatedly discussed amnesty of capitals and property in Kazakhstan will start in September.

Reporting by Assel Satayeva, writing by Dinara Urazova, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina

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