Fugitive banker Ablyazov eyeing political asylum in France 12 февраля 2014, 15:56
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Mukhtar Ablyazov. ©Yaroslav Radlovsky
Fugitive ex-chairman of Kazakhstan-based BTA Bank Mukhtar Ablyazov intends to request a political asylum in France, Tengrinews reports referring to Russian NTV Channel. The lawyer of the multibillionaire from Kazakhstan is contesting the judicial decision to extradite Ablyazov. Late last year the court of Aix-en-Provence city in southern France granted the extradition requests of both Russia and Ukraine, but gave Russia a priority. The two countries are seeking the extradition of the Kazakhstani because he is charged with massive fraud in both of the,. He is also wanted in Kazakhstan for embezzling around $6 billion from the bank he was leading, but Kazakhstan has no extradition agreement with France, so its extradition ambitions were not considered. According to Mark Feygin, the lawyer of Mukhtar Ablayzov, his client will request the French authorities to grant him a political asylum if he manages to convince the court to reverse the extradition decision. The political asylum is the best chance for Ablyazov who has always positioned himself as a political opposition figure rather then a slick banker who pocketed billions, to draw the eye of the international community away from his illegally obtained wealth and mounting fraud charges. The lawyer argues that the ex-banker has been granted a political asylum in a European country before - in Britain. But keeps silent about the way his client returned that courtesy. The London's High Court was reviewing one of this largest fraud cases against Mukhtar Ablyazov and ordered the latter to report on his assets. But Ablyazov neglected this and other requests of the London court and finally got himself sentenced to 22 month in British jail for contempt of court. After he fled the island and so graciously granted him the asylum a few years before. The oligarch was arrested in July by 15 French police officers in a dramatic raid on the six-bedroom villa he was renting in Mouans-Sartoux, with a helicopter hovered over the villa in case he tried to escape. He repeatedly requested a release on bail, but was denied bail both times, as the French court feared that the rich Kazakhstani who can buy his way out of basically anything would flee as soon as he steps out of jail. On January 9, 2014 the French court of Aix-en-Provence approved the extradition requests for the exiled Kazakh oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov from both Russia and Ukraine, but ruled that Russia should take priority. A week later Mukhtar Ablyazov's lawyer appealed the French country's extradition ruling. Ablyazov, accused of embezzling $6 billion from BTA bank, is still in jail in France, hoping for the tide to turn.