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Kazakhstan continues pursuing Ablyazov's extradition

14 january 2014, 16:45
0
Mukhtar Ablyazov. ©RIA Novosti
Mukhtar Ablyazov. ©RIA Novosti
Kazakhstan continues to pursue Mukhtar Ablyazov's extradition from France. The ex-chairman of Kazakhstan-based BTA bank is charged with embezzling $6 billion from the bank and is currently in custody in France, Tengrinews reports.

The former Kazakh energy minister an ex-banker is charged with large-scare fraud in Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine and is yet to serve the 22-months prison sentence given to him by the London High Court.

On January 9, 2014 the French court of Aix-en-Provence approved the extradition requests for exiled Kazakh oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov from both Russia and Ukraine, but ruled that Russia's should take priority. Russia got the priority because Ablyazov had allegedly caused much greater damages to Russia, then to Ukraine, while he was leading BTA bank that was based in Kazakhstan, but had interests in Russia and Ukraine.

Kazakhstan is the last place Ablyazov wants to be extradited to, because Kazakhstan's claims against him are even larger than those of Russia - they exceed $6 billion - and he may face 13 years in prison with confiscation of property.

But luckily for him Kazakhstan has no extradition agreement with France. And, according to prosecuting attorney Solange Legras, there is no chance Ablyazov will be re-extradited to Kazakhstan if sent to Russia or Ukraine because such a move would violate international agreements.

Speaking about Kazakhstan's plans to get Ablyazov to answer for his crimes, a source in the General Prosecutor's Office of Kazakhstan told Iterfax-Kazakhstan: "We will be negotiating with the French. We have filed a request already. (...) Russia is not the country we should be dealing with about the extradition. We first need France to support us. If they agree, then the Russians can pass him on to us, or the Ukrainians. But there is nothing we can do without the consent of France."

Ablyazov was first jailed in Kazakhstan in 2002 for abuse of power and illegal business activities. Less then a year later he was pardoned and released. He returned to worked in finance until he was again charged with fraud and embezzlement and fled to Britain in 2009.

He is believed to have stayed there until he was sentenced to 22 months in jail for contempt of court by the London’s High Court. He did not surrender to the British authorities and is then thought to have moved to Italy before his arrest in the south of France.

The oligarch was arrested in July by 15 police officers in a dramatic raid on the six-bedroom villa he was renting in Mouans-Sartoux on a warrant issued by Ukraine, as a helicopter hovered in case he tried to escape.

Ablyazov filed motions requesting his release on bail twice, while being in custody in France. But the court rejected both motions, because no sufficient guarantees were provided and the court believed that the former head of BTA Bank would flee as soon as he was out of prison, bail or not.

Ablyazov is wanted in Kazakhstan for embezzlement, fraud, money laundering and siphoning off BTA bank's funds through dummy companies and illegal financial schemes.

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