BTA Bank Wins Court Bid to Block Ex-Chairman’s Conspiracy Claim

Feb 10. Bloomberg

By Erik Larson

BTA Bank Wins Court Bid to Block Ex-Chairman’s Conspiracy ClaimMukhtar Ablyazov, ex-chairman of the bailed-out Kazakh lender BTA Bank JSC, can’t use allegations of a presidential conspiracy to avoid bank claims he embezzled as much as $4 billion, a U.K. judge ruled.

BTA seeks to recover assets for its creditors, including Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc, and the lawsuits are unrelated to the takeover of the bank or Ablyazov’s disputes with Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Judge Nigel Teare ruled today in London.

“The claims are those of the bank,” Teare said in the ruling. “They are not the claims of the government of Kazakhstan, which is said to have brought about the nationalization in breach of international law and human rights.”

The ruling applies to four of Almaty-based BTA’s six U.K. lawsuits accusing Ablyazov of conspiring with associates to siphon money from the bank through a series of fraudulent loans and share sales before it was bailed out during the financial crisis and defaulted on $12 billion of debt.

A message left for Ablyazov’s spokesman, Locksley Ryan of RLF Partnership Ltd. in London, wasn’t immediately returned.

Lawyers for Ablyazov, who fled to London, said the bank’s nationalization was politically motivated due to their client being part of the “democratic opposition” to Nazarbayev, who has been in power for more than two decades. Nazarbayev last month scrapped a referendum to extend his rule until 2020.

Ablyazov was arrested in 2003 and imprisoned on “trumped up” charges that resulted in the seizure of his assets, his lawyers have argued. He was also tortured in custody and survived two assassination attempts, they say.

aBTA in December won a U.K. appeals court ruling that forced Ablyazov to place his assets, estimated at $5 billion, into receivership.