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Rakhat Aliyev to lose his Vienna-based media center

09 января 2014, 12:12
Rakhat Aliyev. Photo courtesy of azatyq.org
Rakhat Aliyev. Photo courtesy of azatyq.org
Rakhat Aliyev, ex Kazakhstan’s Ambassador to Austria, is set to lose his media center based in Vienna, Austria’s Kurier reports.

The owners of Medienquarter St. Marx (MQM) are selling the assets and looking for new investors. 40% in the media center belong to ZIT (Center for Innovation and Technology of the City of Vienna), with the other 60% belonging to VBM investment company, a partner of A.V. Maximus Holding (that used to be owned by Rakhat Aliyev and was later transferred to his spouse Elnara Shoraz). ZIT invested into the media center Euro 4.56 million, with VBM investing another Euro 6.9 million. Institutional investors, banks, insurance funds and real estate agencies may act as potential investors.

MQM’s area totals 40 000 square meters and accommodates 40 media outlets, including newspaper editors offices and radio stations. The media center employs over 1000 people.

Gerhard Hirczi, managing director of the Vienna Business Agency, who oversees ZIT among other things, has declined to announce the timing for sales of the 40% stake or the price estimate. However, he promised the process would be transparent.

Earlier media reported that Mr.Aliyev’s ownership of the media center might tarnish reputation of Vienna. The City’s Audit Chamber suggested checking the ownership of MQM; however, ZIT failed to submit ownership documents, citing a respective resolution of the founders. The obscure scheme of ownership faced criticism on the part of the Liberal Party of Austria and Austria’s People’s Party. Local media were perplexed at why such a dubious partner as Rakhat Aliyev had been chosen to be a major investor. The ex Ambassador is being suspected of money laundering in the EU.

In his native Kazakhstan Mr. Aliyev has been sentenced in absentia to some prison terms on charges of treason, instigation for a coup d'etat, abduction of people. Recently it became clear Mr. Aliyev was the one to order assassination of the opposition leader Altynbek Sarsenbayev back in 2006. In this case ex Senate head of staff Erzhan Utembayev was convicted. With the new evidence coming to light, he is to face court January 10.

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