In response to a respective request made by the Ak Zhol fraction of the country’s Majilis (lower chamber), the Central Bank Governor Kairat Kelimbetov answered that “the information [on secret accounts of Kazakhstanis kept in off-shore zones] you want to obtain from foreign banks and regulators constitutes bank secrecy and is protected”.
He elaborated that the Central Bank could only obtain information from foreign banks and regulators under international agreements on exchange of information. “Kazakhstan has no such agreements with countries that might serve off-shore zones [for Kazakhstanis]. The Central Bank has some agreements on information exchange with central banks of other nations; however, this information exchange is quite limited”.
“The USA could only obtain information on its citizens after adopting a legislation on taxation of accounts opened abroad, with the law being an effective tool”, Mr. Kelimbetov said.
The country’s PM Serik Akhmetov also responded to the Majilis fraction’s request. According to him, the Kazakh Finance Ministry October 10, 2013 sent respective requests to competent bodies of Great Britain, the USA, the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Austria, Singapore, Spain, Luxemburg, the UAE to obtain information on income generated by Kazakhstanis in these countries and their accounts opened with banks in these countries.
Similar requests were sent to public bodies of Lichtenstein, Hong Kong, the Marshall Islands, the Bermuda Islands and Guatemala. Kazakhstan has no agreements with these countries. The PM’s letter elaborates that Kazakhstan has a total of 46 agreements on avoidance of double taxation and prevention of tax evasion, including with the 12 mentioned above countries.
Currently Kazakhstan is working to join the respective Convention of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and is establishing cooperation with tax authorities of the USA. The Convention will facilitate obtainment of full information on accounts and assets of Kazakhstanis abroad.
Back in September 2013 the Ak Zhol fraction suggested that the General Prosecutor’s Office, the Government and the Central Bank turn to foreign banks and regulators of offshore zones to obtain information on personal accounts of Kazakhstanis, including those of Kazakhstan’s Government officials and heads of state-run companies.
The country’s media reported at that time that the overall amount kept by Kazakhstanis in offshore zones is estimated at $138 billion.
“Should Kazakhstan’s regulators fail to obtain the information, the fraction is ready to turn to parliamentarians of respective nations to launch parliament investigations into the matter”, Ak Zhol leader Azat Peruashev said at that time.
Later on he said the official responds “are of purely bureaucratic nature”.