Kazakhstan wins lawsuit against Mukhtar Ablyazov's company
Mukhtar Ablyazov. Tengrinews.kz stock photo
Kazakhstan has won a lawsuit against a firm that belongs to Mukhtar Ablyazov, a fugitive Kazakh ex-banker accused of embezzling $6 billion from BTA bank. On October 17 an arbitration tribunal of the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes passed its judgement on the legal action of KT Asia Investment Group B.V. (KT Asia), Tengrinews reports citing a press-release of the Ministry of Justice of Kazakhstan. The International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) is an international arbitration institution which facilitates arbitration and conciliation of legal disputes between international investors. The claimed amount made 1.5 billion dollars. The arbitration was initiated in 2009 and funded by Ablyazov. According to the message, Netherlands-registered KT Asia that "does not carry out any actual business" filed the lawsuit against Kazakhstan. "The plaintiff accused Kazakhstan of allegedly nationalizing a minority share of BTA Bank that on paper belonged to KT Asia," the press-release said. Kazakhstan succeeded in proving that KT Asia was one of Ablyazov's shell companies used to move asset from one company to another. "The tribunal pointed out that the legal judgement of the British court freezing Ablyazov's assets in the lawsuit of BTA bank against Ablyazov that lists hundreds of Ablyazov's companies provides a glimpse of the scale of the practice," the Justice Ministry's press-release says. Kazakhstan proved that KT Asia bought BTA shares at the cost 7 time below the market price and used a loan from the two companies selling the shares that also belong to Ablyazov to buy them. "Neither the loan's principal nor the interest were ever paid on the loan. Instead, the debt was written off and Ablyazov liquidated these two companies to eliminated the debt of KT Asia altogether," the message says. As a result the tribunal dismissed the claim of Mukhtar Ablyazov, agreeing with Kazakhstan that KT Asia has never actually owned the investments or made any contributions into BTA bank. At present Ablyazov is in detention in France. He was arrested by French special forces in July this year The French court has refused to set a bail twice on the grounds that Abyazov has the means to flee and is likely to do so as soon as released on bail. The fugitive that is now vainly trying to prove that he was actually an opposition leader, rather that a ranking thief. Three countries - Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine - are awaiting his extradition. He is accused of large-scale fraud in all the three countries and several others. France is not going to decide on Ablyazov's extradition before this spring.