The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office recently approved an indictment against Mukhtar Ablyazov, former head of Kazakhstan-based BTA Bank, who is accused of embezzling 58 billion rubles ($1,8 billion at the average annual rate of 2009), Alexandr Kurennoy, a spokesman for the Prosecutor General’s Office, has confirmed.
Together with Ablyazov, the Prosecutor General’s Office also approved indictments on criminal cases against one Roman Solodchenko, the former chairman of the same bank, and subordinates Artur Trofimov, Igor Kononko, Tatyana Paraskevich, Anatoly Ereshchenko and Alexander Udovenko.
They are accused of committing crimes under the Russian Criminal Code - theft of property via fraud by an organised group on a large scale - legalisation of property obtained as a result of a crime - and causing especially major damage by deception by an organised group.
According to the investigation, in 2006-2009 the defendants stole more than 58 billion rubles from BTA Bank. For this, the official representative of the Prosecutor General’s Office, Alexander Kurennoy, said the group issued loans secured by land properties, which had been purchased on borrowed funds.
Subsequently, Ablyazov, together with his accomplices, organised the illegal termination of mortgage contracts. As a result, the bank was deprived of the possibility of foreclosure on pledged assets, and the intruders disposed of the property at their discretion, including by selling to third parties.
In addition, the accomplices on the basis of the cession agreements, transferred to the companies under their control the right to claim funds for a number of loans issued by BTA Bank.
As a result, these companies received money that had been due to the bank. The extradition of the accused to the Prosecutor General’s Office by France and other countries was denied, therefore the Domodedovo City Court of the Moscow Region (where disputed land plots are located) will consider the criminal case against them in absentia.
Ablyazov, who has already served prison sentences in Kazakhstan and France, is also wanted for questioning in Ukraine, which has an extradition warrant outstanding in his name.
In Kazakhstan, Ablyazov was previously sentenced in absentia to 20 years in prison for embezzling $7 billion from BTA Bank, and last year he received a life sentence for organising the murder of his predecessor as head of BTA Bank Yerzhan Tatishev, thus clearing the way for Ablyazov to take control of the bank. The killer, Muratkhan Tokmadi, known for past links with organised crime, admitted to the murder in a dramatic prison cell confession.
At a Public Hearing of the European Parliament’s Special committee on financial crimes, tax evasion and tax avoidance (known as TAX3) in Brussels on January 29th, French MEP Nicolas Bay (pictured below) openly named Ablyazov of having “launched a foundation called Open Dialog.. there are now very real questions about the funding of the activities of that foundation”.
Open Dialog Foundation (ODF) was the subject of a Sunday Times investigation, published on April 20th, in which it was claimed that the foundation had been implicated in the laundering of more than £26m by companies registered at addresses in Scotland, some of which was used to pay funds into the ODF, according to Poland’s National Revenue Administration.
Suggesting several members of TAX3 are “apparently closely involved with that foundation…” he called for “TAX3 to hold a special hearing devoted to this gentleman given the importance of the case.”
“All too often” the deputy continued, “perpetrators of white collar crimes are able to pass themselves off as victims”, referring to ODF’s presentation of Ablyazov and others implicated in his crimes, as persecuted political oppositionists, and victims of human rights violations.
As well as the serious and damning allegations made by the Sunday Times, and the attention given to his activities from the influential TAX3 in Brussels, Ablyazov has found himself increasingly under the spotlight in the United States.
Prominent attorney Alan Albert, from law firm O’Hagan Meyer, has won a $7.3 million verdict against Ablyazov in a Fairfax, Virginia courtroom in a “precedent-setting case to recover assets fraudulently diverted from a bank in Kazakhstan” the firm announced on March 21st.
Albert represented the receivers appointed by the High Court of Justice of England and Wales to recover assets “diverted from BTA Bank by its former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Mukhtar Ablyazov, against whom the English court to date has issued judgments totalling more than $4.7 billion.”
This is not the only bad news the fugitive oligarch has received attention following his activities in the U.S: the High Court of England and Wales has previously stated that funds embezzled by Ablyazov had “in all probability” been laundered by Ilyas Khrapunov, Ablyazov’s son-in-law, through Donald Trump property enterprises.
Gary Cartwright is publishing editor of EU Today.
An experienced journalist and published author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.
He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.
Original source: EU TODAY