Bulat Utemuratov, former chief of staff of the former president of Kazakhstan, earned a reputation of the almost invincible oligarch. He managed to legalise his more-than-suspicious wealth by making more-than-suspicious transactions. Moreover, Bulat Utemurtatov, long seen by experts and European politicians as a personal financial manager of ex-dictator, accumulated his own wealth by skimming his patron and offering services for third parties. One case is particularly interesting.
Bulat Utemuratov’s funds frozen… and unfrozen
The high-profile story of the British court «freezing» billionaire Bulat Utemuratov’s assets is almost over. And it’s ending exactly the way we have predicted. Nonetheless, given certain conditions, the scandal may flare up again.
To remind the reader how the story’s ended, let us quote a Radio Azattyk publication of December 9, 2020, titled «Verny Capital» informs: restrictions been lifted off Bulat Utemuratov’s assets«.
«Verny Capital« group of companies said on Wednesday, December 9, that the UK court order to impose restrictions on the assets of the company’s key shareholder Bulat Utemuratov had been reversed. According to the company’s statement, it became possible after BTA Bank and Utemuratov’s representatives had signed an agreement under which the financial institute „assumed an obligation to abandon the claim“.
Last month, based on BTA Bank’s request, the British court froze the assets of Utemuratov, the former Head of the Department of Presidential Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, in the amount of 5 $ bln. In its claim, the financial institute stipulated that Utemuratov had been involved in hiding the stolen money.
«The claim of BTA Bank against Bulat Utemuratov and his affiliated persons and companies has been abandoned on the basis of the agreement related to the presenting of the documents confirming Bulat Utemuratov’s and his affiliated parties’ noninvolvement in the money laundering case«, says the company’s statement. They informed that a part of the documents had been presented before the signing of the agreement.
BTA Bank’s official website does not contain information on the signing of the said agreement».
So, our forecast regarding the prospects of this case has been realised one hundred percent.
To confirm this, let us cite our publication of December 1, 2020, titled «On the Utemuratov Scandal».
On December 1st, Kazakhstan celebrates the Day of the First President, namely, of Nursultan Nazarbayev. And it looks like, especially for the occasion, Mukhtar Ablyazov, the Elbasy’s archenemy, has presented his opponent with a «gift» — a small yet very high-profile scandal.
The scandal is related to the UK trial as part of which BTA Bank JSC currently owned by Kenes Rakishev (No. 6 on the Forbes.kz list of Kazakhstan’s richest businessmen) has once again filed a claim against Ablyazov.
On Sunday, November 29, 2020, Mukhtar Ablyazov wrote an unexpected post on his Facebook page that he was to go on the air live at 9 p.m. Almaty time. Here is the post.
«Even though today is Sunday, I have decided to go on the air because, tomorrow, many of you will hear strange and incredible news about arrests and scandals. All of them in the spirit of Stalin’s times when the people from his immediate circle were accused of being affiliated with Trotsky, the enemy of the whole nation.
What does this have to do with Nazarbayev, Masimov — you may ask? When I go on the air, I will tell you about Karim Masomov’s meticulously thought out conspiracy plan to seize the power.
Perhaps after I give my live speech, the arrests won’t happen in the nearest future. Most likely, they will take place in a more covert form. In the form of an unofficial house arrest with a special ops unit surrounding the house and the ban to leave the premises. Be as it may, the mechanism has been launched. It is impossible to stop it. The only question is whom this mechanism is going to bury — Nazarbayev or Masimov…»
Those who wish to learn more on what Mukhtar Ablyazov has revealed on the subject, may visit his Facebook page. Something else is of interest here — who is to become a political victim of his «gift» to Nursultan Nazarbayev?
Or, to be more precise, whom will Akorda and the Library choose as the scapegoat? For, as we know from the Kazakh practices, there is no way escaping it.
This is what the story looks like from the outside.
- BTA Bank JSC that had long ceased being a bank and that exists only because the Kazakh authorities use it as a tool in the longstanding political and judicial conflict (war) with Mukhtar Ablyazov has either filed a new claim to the British court or has made some additions to the old one.
- For some unknown reason (probably due to the usual muddling), the UK attorneys working for BTA Bank JSC have included Bulat Utemuratov, a Kazakh billionaire and one of Nursultan Nazarbayev’s closest allies, in the list of the defendants.
- Such a move was based on the fact that the late Erzhan Tatishev, Mukhtar Ablyazov’s business-partner, had given a large share of the bank’s shares to Bulat Utremuratov when saving the Astana-Holding business group’s assets after Ablyazov’s arrest in 2002.
- In reality, it is Nursultan Nazarbayev who was the true owner of these shares while Mr. Utemuratov (No. 4 on the Forbes.kz list of Kazakhstan’s richest businessmen) was acting on behalf of the former, in other words, performed the role of a frontman. This is the role he has been performing always and everywhere and, for this reason, he has earned the unofficial nickname of the Elbasy’s «wallet» or «pocket».
- After being released in 2003 and having returned to BTA Bank JSC after Erzhan Tatishev’s tragic death in the hunting field, Mukhtar Ablyazov had managed to dramatically increase the capital stock and erode Nursultan Nazarbayev’s share to the proportions of a percent for which Nazarbayev has never forgiven him.
- The reasons why Mukhtar Ablyazov has made Karim Masimov the main culprit by accusing him of organising the «raid» against Bulat Utemuratov through the British court probably lie in the fact that it is no other than the current NSA Chief Masimov who, in 2008-2009, on behalf of Nazarbayev, was negotiating with Ablyazov and demanded from the latter to give away the bank for very little money.
- An additional reason for Mukhtar Nazarbayev’s «raid» against Karim Masimov may lie in the fact that the current leader of the legal war against him, Kazakhstan’s Minister of Justice Marat Beketayev, is believed to be Masimov’s henchman.
- It looks like the Verniy Capital company has responded to Mukhtar Ablyazov’s Facebook post in a quick and nervous fashion; so the shaft went home. Let us quote the press-release issued by Bulat Utemuratov’s company titled «The Statement Related to the BTA Bank British Court Case».
«The Verniy Capital Group has commented on Mukhtar Ablyazov’s publication that mentions the main shareholder of the Group Bulat Utemuratov and the BTA Bank British Court case.
«The said claim was first filed by BTA Bank JSC against Mukhtar Ablyazov and Ilyas Khrapunov in 2015. Following the expansion of the list of the defendants, in November 2020, Bulat Utemuratov and a number of persons affiliated with his business-structure were added to the list. The filing of this claim was based on the fallacious documents presented by BTA Bank and its attorneys. The demands mentioned in the claim will be appealed in the nearest future«, says Verniy Capital’s statement
Bulat Utemuratov is currently residing in Nur-Sultan and continues his work with the focus on public activities».
In our opinion, the said scandal will eventually die out since the UK attorneys working for BTA Bank JSC will simply call off the claim or a part of it. We are not even sure that the individual people who have made «the mistake» will be held responsible. Simply because the attorneys have straightforwardly used the documents received from the client. And they are not obligated to take into consideration Kazakhstan’s local political subtleties well-known to those who live in the country.
Nonetheless, there is likelihood that the Library and Akorda will be forced to respond to the scandal. And to punish those who are literally asking for being chosen as the scapegoat.
First of all, we are talking about Kazakhstan’s Minister of Justice Marat Beketayev who is in charge of all the aspects of the war with Mukhtar Ablyazov.
Second of all, we are talking about Kenes Rakishev, the current owner of BTA Bank JSC, who is officially responsible for the work performed by the bank’s attorneys both in-house and external collaborators, both inside the country and abroad.
Therefore, we are eagerly awaiting the further developments of the events that have already added some merriment to the all too boring celebration.
How Nazarbayev handled Bulat Utemuratov scandal
«In our opinion, the said scandal will eventually die out since the UK attorneys working for BTA Bank JSC will simply call off the claim or a part of it.
We are not even sure that the individual people who have made „the mistake“ will be held responsible. Simply because the attorneys have straightforwardly used the documents received from the client. And they are not obligated to take into consideration Kazakhstan’s local political subtleties well-known to those who live in the country.
Nonetheless, there is likelihood that the Library and Akorda will be forced to respond to the scandal. And to punish those who are literally asking for being chosen as the scapegoat».
Among those who may be chosen as the scapegoat, we, first of all, have named Minister of Justice Marat Beketayev since it was he who had personally been handling the legal war against Mukhtar Abliyazov; second of all, we’ve named the current BTA Bank’s owner Kenes Rakishev who is formally responsible for the actions of the bank’s attorneys (on staff and freelance) operating in the country and abroad.
In our opinion, the fact that, so far, the Library and Akorda as well as Bulat Utemuratov, Marat Beketayev and Kenes Rakishev have been keeping silent does not mean that the case and the scandal it provoked have ended. Moreover, it may flare up again if the UK investigators (whether public of private) start researching the BTA case not from the date when Mukhtar Ablyazov became its chairman but from the moment when the bank started «pumping up» the capital (just as the other Kazakh banks had been actively doing prior to the 2008 crisis).
The thing is that the «pumping up» of BTA Bank was started by Erzhan Tatishev who, after Mukhtar Ablyazov’s 2002 arrest and conviction, had obtained complete control of the financial institute and handed over a big part of its shares to Bulat Utemuratov who was representing the interests of Nursultan Nazarbayev at the time. As a result of the «pumping» as well as of the extremely risky business-operations related to providing loans to affiliated structures including those belonging to Utemuratov and other allies and relatives of the future Elbasy, by the time of Tatishev’s tragic death, the bank had formed a big «hole» in the amount of about a billion dollars.
As BTA Bank’s co-owner, Nursultan Nazarbayev, through his representative Bulat Utemuratov, was well aware of the problem. It is for this reason that he allowed Mukhtar Ablyazov to return to the bank after Erzhan Tatishev’s death. In other words, he did not give back the bank to its former co-owner; he was saving his asset from the unavoidable bankruptcy.
What happened next is a matter of common knowledge, among other things, thanks to the activities of the Kazakh law-enforcement structures that had written their own version of the events. However, the story also has a dark side that deserves attentions not just on the part of historians but on the part of Kazakh and foreign investigators as well since, thanks to Akorda’s efforts, the case has now obtained the international status.