Viennese prosecutors talk Aliyev's motives in alleged murder of two bankers15 december 2014, 19:42
Draft indictment presents motives for murder
Rakhat Aliyev, a fugitive tycoon from Kazakhstan, was arrested in Vienna on June 5, 2014 in connection to the murder of two Kazakh bankers that he allegedly committed in 2007 in Kazakhstan.
Aliyev denies his involvement in the murders and insists that the case against him is politically motivated. His defence lawyers are repeating it time and time again that Rakhat Aliyev used to be married to one of the daughters of the Kazakhstan President and that alienation of affections and political rivalry is the true cause of the double murder charges brought against Aliyev, not the actual abduction and murder of the two managers of Aliyev's bank.
The Austrian authorities do not share the point of view of Aliyev's lawyers, however. They have discovered that the abductions and murders could have had a very clear financial motive. And this enabled them to completely rule out the political motives in the case.
The Austrian prosecutors found that before the tragedy with the two bankers took place Rakhat Aliyev was planing to sell his bank - Nurbank - and was auditing it. The audit discovered dozens of millions of overdue loans extended to borrowers affiliated with the bank's employees or former employees. This started Rakhat Aliyev suspecting that some of the bank's managers were enriching at his expense.
One of those bad loans was a $30 million loan to Aybar Khasenov’s company - Aybar Khasenov is one of the top managers of the bank who was allegedly abducted and killed by Aliyev. Another top manager who fell victim to Aliyev's wrath - Zholdas Timraliyev - was accused by his boss of receiving kickbacks on the loans for authorising the loans at the bank's disadvantage.
Aliyev and two of his accomplices allegedly tried to make Timraliyev and Khasenov confess to those actions and return the stollen assets. The three were ready to use “force, threats and deprivations of liberty if necessary”, according to the Austrian prosecutors version. The final point was the murder of the two bankers in February 2007.
Prosecutor Bettina Wallner said in her statement that Aliyev's case contained a "chain of evidence that supports the suspicion of Aliyev's involvement in the murder of the two managers of his bank in Kazakhstan back in 2007". To this Aliyev's lawyer Stefan Prochaska said that the accusations were based on a questionable testimony.
But Wallner said that more than 90 witnesses had been questioned on the case, mostly via a video conference. And the manner of the questioning excludes that those witnesses could be pressured by Kazakhstan authorities.
Victims' lawyer has connections with Rakhat Aliyev's accomplice?
While the indictment is being readied the lawyers are fighting their own battles. There is another twist to the story and it concerns the lawyer of the plantiffs, Gabriel Lansky, and Rakhat Aliyev’s lawyer Stefan Prochaska.
Rakhat Aliyev’s lawyer Stefan Prochaska accused Gabriel Lansky, the plaintiffs' lawyer, of being involved with a PR agency working to spread “slander” online by referencing relevant documents and media reports.
Lansky rejected this accusation and insisted that the agency was working legally and said that documents on which his colleague Prochaska was making the assumptions were "obviously fake". Prochaska disagreed with this.
“The fact that the vice-president of the Vienna Bar Association (Prochaska) wants to defame a colleague with documents that are obviously forged would have been worthy of the theater of political satire, if it wasn’t about the murder of two people," Lansky said.
According to media reports, Vice-President of the Bar Association of Vienna Elizabeth Rech (she and Prochaska are members of the board of president Michael Auer), "received payment" from the former head of the National Security Committee of Kazakhstan Alnur Musayev (who is now being accused of murder alongside Rakhat Aliyev), or rather a fee, which was transferred by the law firm owned by Lansky. Elizabeth Rech was an advisor to Musayev in the extradition cases at the time when Kazakhstan requested his extradition, but Austria denied the request.
A criminal case was initiated against Lansky on suspicion of "secret intelligence service to the detriment of Austria." But Lansky denied any involvement in espionage.
According to Rech’s testimony at a Committee on Constitutional Protection hearing, she received 22.415 euros from Lansky's law firm. The money was transferred to pay for the legal services provided to Musayev.
At the time, Lansky was allegedly trying to get the information on the location of the bodies from Musayev. It turns out that the representatives of the victims made the payment for the legal services of the side that is now suspected of murder. Musayev knew all about these circumstances, and even met with members of Lansky’s firm on several occasions.
When Rech testified before the Committee on Constitutional Protection, she was asked her opinion about the fact that Lansky’s firm first worked for Musayev and then worked to find grounds for bring charges against him (and Aliyev). She said that it all looked like a “big mess”.
However the mess does not necessarily ends there. The Justice Minister of Austria Wolfgang Brandstetter used to be Rakhat Aliyev's lawyer as recently as in 2011, so considering the case against Aliyev now could be a conflict of interest for the Minister, and many believe that he might still be biased towards the Kazakh tycoon. To distance himself from the case the Minister created a special committee to decide whether charges could be brought against Aliyev.
The committee has agreed with the prosecutor's draft of the indictment that includes the double murder charges. The committee also ruled that the case against Aliyev was not politically motivated, since the double murder allegedly committed by Aliyev had a clear financially motive. The committee has given a go to the prosecutors and soon, another important witness is expected to the questioned in this high-profile international case.
By Dinara Urazova and Tatyana Kuzmina