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Mukhtar Ablyazov: UK Judge Orders Fugitive Oligarch to Surrender 2024

LONDON, March 1 (Source) – Mukhtar Ablyazov, a fugitive oligarch accused of embezzling over $5 billion from his former Kazakh bank, BTA, has been directed by an English judge to surrender himself or risk forfeiting his right to defend against substantial fraud allegations in a UK court.

BTA, which has filed nine lawsuits against Ablyazov since defaulting on $12 billion of debts and undergoing nationalization in 2009, can seek to invalidate his defense and pursue a default judgment if Ablyazov fails to appear before court authorities and disclose the full extent of his assets by March 9, ruled Judge Nigel Teare.

In a judgment published on Thursday, Teare stated, “If Mr. Ablyazov has fled abroad, which is a possibility, then surrender is essential because the court’s jurisdiction is limited to Dover.”

The 48-year-old billionaire, who fled to Britain after BTA’s insolvency declaration in 2009, was recently sentenced to 22 months in prison for contempt of court, a development expected to be peripheral to the primary fraud claims scheduled for trial from November. However, Ablyazov, who denies the charges leveled against him, failed to appear in court.

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BTA revealed last week that Ablyazov was suspected of leaving Britain on a coach bound for France. Judge Teare observed, “Not even his own solicitors, who are still representing him in this matter and receiving instructions from him, are aware of his whereabouts.”

BTA petitioned Judge Teare last Friday to grant Ablyazov until March 2 to surrender or forfeit his right to a defense. The bank also sought an order debarring Ablyazov from defending himself if he failed to fully disclose his assets by March 9.

Teare dismissed Ablyazov’s legal team’s argument that these applications were frivolous and risked infringing upon his civil rights. He stated, “He will have a fair hearing of his civil rights and obligations if he provides a full affidavit of his assets. If he chooses not to, then his defense will be struck out due to his own actions.”

BTA’s claims against Ablyazov and his associates span allegations of diverting bank loans to offshore shell companies for personal gain to the purchase of a non-existent oil platform.

In response to the ruling, BTA remarked in a statement, “Today’s ruling represents significant progress in the litigation. Mr. Ablyazov continues to defy the orders of the English High Court. BTA Bank remains committed to safeguarding and recovering assets for the benefit of our creditors and shareholders.”

Ablyazov, a former Kazakh minister who claims to have received death threats and hate mail during his time in Britain and was granted political asylum in 2011, has until March 8 to appeal the contempt of court ruling for misrepresenting his assets and violating a global freezing order.

As of now, his London-based spokesperson has not responded to requests for comment.

Read more: Mukhtar Ablyazov: UK Judge Orders Fugitive Oligarch to Surrender 2024

The Complicated Journey of Mukhtar Ablyazov: Chairman of BTA Bank to Fugitive Oligarch

Mukhtar Ablyazov, born on May 16, 1963, is a Kazakh businessman and political activist who has been embroiled in various roles and controversies:

  1. Chairman of BTA Bank:
  • Ablyazov served as the chairman of BTA Bank, a prominent financial institution in Kazakhstan.
  1. Political Activism:
  • He co-founded and led the unregistered political party Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (QDT).
  • Ablyazov briefly headed the state-owned Kazakhstan Electricity Grid Operating Company (KEGOC) and held the position of Minister for Energy, Industry, and Trade before opposing President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
  1. Imprisonment and Pardon:
  • Founding the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan in 2001 led to his imprisonment in 2002 on charges of financial fraud and political abuse. He was later pardoned by Nazarbayev in 2003. Following his release, he withdrew from formal political activities with the opposition.
  1. Embezzlement Accusations:
  • Ablyazov faces accusations of embezzling $6 billion from BTA Bank during his tenure as chairman.
  1. Extradition Order:
  • In 2015, a French court issued an extradition order, which was later revoked in 2016 due to alleged political motives by Russia in the request.
  1. UK Arrest Warrants:
  • The UK High Court of Justice issued arrest warrants for Ablyazov, prompting him to seek political refugee status in France in 2020.

Ablyazov’s career and activities have been marked by significant legal and political challenges, reflecting a complex and contentious relationship with the Kazakh government and international legal authorities.

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