European countries to follow UK anti-corruption drive to Punish Mukhtar Ablyazov and Syrym Shalabayev?

Mukhtar Ablyazov

By Dr Shahid Qureshi : –

British Prime Minister David Cameron While speaking at Anti – Corruption 2016 summit said: “First, we will expose corruption so there is nowhere to hide. If you don’t know who owns what, you can’t stop people stealing from poor countries and hiding that stolen wealth in rich ones.”

The Prime Minister said: “Today the world has come together in a coalition of the committed to expose, punish and drive out corruption. This has been the first summit of its kind and the biggest demonstration of the political will to address corruption that we have seen for many, many years. Frankly we’ve known for years what a problem this is; we’ve known for years it prevents us from achieving so many things we want to fix in our world. But I’ve really sensed today there is far more political will – not just from words but from actions – that will make a difference. There’s nothing as powerful than an idea whose time has come and I believe that’s the case with fighting and driving our corruption.”

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Keeping in view the above speech it seems that Great Britain finally abandoned from support for fugitive Kazakh oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov. At last, all attempts to regain the status of a refugee London refused. It seems that Britain no longer wants to be a place of «voluntary exile» of corrupt officials from the former USSR. But its role seems ready to seize some of the continent.

Traditionally London is becoming the destination of many fugitive criminal oligarchs from the former Soviet Union. And many of them charged at home in a very serious violations of the law, from tax offenses to murder. So that was the case with Boris Berezovsky, against whom Moscow has got several criminal cases: theft, fraud, money laundering, attempted violent seizure of power and a lot of things no less interesting. It happened with the fugitive Kazakh banker Mukhtar Ablyazov, who is in London saw the safe harbor for the future life. At home he is accused of stealing nearly 6 billion US dollars from managing BTA Bank in Russia and Ukraine – fraud, embezzlement and money laundering. In general the legacy had a lot.

Traditionally, all had fled into a bastion of European democracy called themselves opponents of the current government. What was giving them the ability to easily obtain the status of political refugee. So it was with Mr. Ablyazov. The status of political refugee, Mukhtar Ablyazov took in early 2011, two years after he moved to London after the nationalization of BTA Bank. As counted the British authorities the criminal prosecution of ex-banker accused of stealing more than 5 billion. US dollars from depositors of BTA Bank, it was associated with the «opposition activities of its former owner in Kazakhstan.» This status is needed for Ablyazov not only for the safety from persecution of Astana as a guarantee against extradition to Russia, where he was arrested in absentia back in 2010.

But London does not like with all its loyalty to the refugees when it is cheated. When during the trial it became clear that Ablyazov has not fulfilled the obligation to disclose all of their assets and their transfer into administration, the Supreme Court in London found Mr. Ablyazov guilty of perjury in violation of the ban on asset management and sentenced him for 22 months imprisonment for contempt to court. Interestingly, in addition to Mr. Ablyazov on the same basis, but for 18 months in prison was convicted of his relative – Syrym Shalabayev, which directly led things hidden from the trial of ex-banker’s assets.

Syrym Shalabayev
Syrym Shalabayev

Later Ablyazov, in 2013, was detained in France. A relative of Ablyazov – Shalabayev – was taken into custody in Lithuania. Incidentally, it is interesting that both the citizen of Kazakhstan have been declared internationally wanted not at the request of Astana, Moscow and Kiev and at the request of London ‘accused of them escaping from justice’.

And now the most interesting. In April 2014, the Great Britain deprived Ablyazov refugee status. The reason – to be true in his accusations of fraud and laundering billions of dollars of assets. Two years of appeals and lawsuits in London got no results. This summer the London High Court finally confirmed: Mukhtar Ablyazov and his associates are not political refugees and will not be. At least in its territory. It means that the United Kingdom gave carte blanche to the rest of Europe to decide the further fate of the fugitive banker.

France has decided to extradite a fugitive in Russia and now Ablyazov and his lawyers have unsuccessfully tried to appeal the decision on his extradition to France’s Council of State. The fact that London and Paris, and even Washington admitted Ablyazov and his accomplices fraudsters. Since 1 January 2014 to 1 July 2016 BTA Bank realized a return of assets derived Mukhtar Ablyazov the total amount of 1.4 bln. dollars. Thus, the High Court of England issued the order to freeze assets directly or indirectly owned by Mukhtar Ablyazov and Ilyas Khrapunov (he managed assets on behalf of Ablyazov). 17 June 2016 the English court issued a master’s order to disclose information in respect I. Agravala, which is a proxy for the management part of the stolen assets of the bank. The United States agreed to freeze the assets of Ablyazov in the territory of States and adopted an action of BTA Bank against fugitive oligarch.

In general, the swindler finally recognized a fraud (at the level of the courts) on both sides of the Atlantic. However, several other Old World countries prefer to seize the opportunity to become a haven for ‘political refugees’.

For example, in mid-2015 the Lithuanian authorities detained a relative and Ablyazov’s accomplice Syrym Shalabayev. And in early 2016 Shalabayev granted refugee status. Moreover, on the basis that he came and has in Vilnius permanent residence.

Another accomplice of Ablyazov is hiding in Europe. This ex-chairman of the Board of BTA Bank Roman Solodchenko, accused in several countries in the misappropriation of property and abuse of office. With the request for his extradition acts Ukraine.

A Spanish court went even further – he canceled its adopted decision to extradite Ablyazov trustee – the former security chief of former head of BTA Bank Alexander Pavlov and granted him political asylum.

It seems that the Western countries are now competing with each other: who will break more laws to combat money laundering and international crime. Hoping, perhaps, that with fugitive oligarchs and their associates to the country would inflow stolen capital. Only this can explain the strange behavior of Lithuania and Spain.

However, the British precedent gives hope that the continent reconsider their decisions. And yet agree on the issue of fugitives. After all, the evidence base of their crimes recognized by the wealthy, and in most countries of the world.

(Dr Shahid Qureshi is senior analyst with BBC and editor of The London Post. He writes on security, terrorism and foreign policy. He also appears as analyst on Al-Jazeera, Press TV, MBC, Kazak TV (Kazakhstan), Turkish TV, LBC Radio London. He was also international election observer for Kazakhstan 2015, March 2016 and Pakistan 2002. He has written a famous book “War on Terror and Siege of Pakistan” published in 2009. He is a PhD in Political Psychology and also studied Law at a British University)