Extradition limits Ablyazov’s ability to launder proceeds of his wrongdoing: Chris Hardman 09 января 2014, 23:03
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Mukhtar Ablyazov. © RIA Novosti
BTA Bank has welcomed the forthcoming extradition of its ex-chairman Mukhtar Ablyazov from France, Tengrinews reports, citing the Bank’s press-service. The bank’s spokesman emphasized the move is key to having the bank’s assets siphoned off by Mr. Ablyazov recovered. Chris Hardman, a fraud litigator at Hogan Lovells International LLP acting on behalf of BTA, believes that "the decision to extradite Mr Ablyazov to stand trial for at least some of his many frauds on BTA Bank should assist the bank in its recovery efforts" and that "the extradition will greatly limit his ability to continue to launder the proceeds of his wrongdoing". According to Mr. Hardman, the extradition "demonstrates once again that Mr Ablyazov’s repeated attempts to portray himself as being pursued by the bank for political reasons are groundless; he is merely being required to answer for the billions of dollars that were taken from BTA and its creditors". According to BTA’s consultant based in France Antonin Levy, the court’s decision to extradite Mr. Ablyazov shows that the charges brought against Mr. Ablyazov are "justified and credible". "It doesn’t matter if Mr. Ablyazov appeals the decision, because the appeal will address only procedural issues and will have no effect on his extradition or the the large-scale embezzlement case”, Mr. Levy said. The French court of Aix-en-Provence decided on the extradition on January 9. The judicial representatives said they preferred that he was sent to Russia, since the extent of the charges brought by Russia — about $5 billion — was far larger than that those brought by Ukraine. In his native Kazakhstan Mr. Ablyazov is being charged with embezzling over $6 billion. He is facing a He may face 13-year-long term coupled with property confiscation. However, according prosecuting attorney Solange Legras, there is no chance he would be re-extradited to Kazakhstan if sent to Russia or Ukraine because such a move would violate international agreements. Ablyazov fled Kazakhstan in in 2009 amid accusations of embezzlement. He is believed to have stayed in Britain 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, Russia and Ukraine for embezzlement, fraud, money laundering and siphoning off BTA bank's funds through dummy companies and illegal financial schemes.