Kazakhstan asks Canada to extradite millionaire accused of stealing from state-owned nuclear agency
May 14. National Post. TORONTO
By Adrian Humphreys
Kazakhstan has made an official request for the arrest and extradition of a millionaire businessman — accused of stripping assets from the state-owned nuclear company in his homeland before fleeing to Toronto — but the revelation hurts and helps his fight for freedom in equal measure.
The Federal Court of Canada issued a rebuke against the Canada Border Services Agency for telling an immigration tribunal it did not know if an extradition request had been made for Rustem Tursunbayev when, in fact, it knew there had been.
Justice Anne Mactavish ordered Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board to hold a fresh detention review hearing for Mr. Tursunbayev, a hearing that continues on Monday.
It adds another twist in the curious case of Mr. Tursunbayev, who is mounting a well-funded legal attack on his February arrest for alleged immigration violations.
While Mr. Tursunbayev is accused in Canada of misrepresenting himself to immigration authorities, he is wanted in Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic, after a multi-milliondollar embezzlement and fraud at the company he once helped run.
At issue in the Federal Court case was a statement made by CBSA to an IRB tribunal judge during a hearing on whether Mr. Tursunbayev should be released on bail.
In response to a comment by the businessman’s lawyer that the immigration arrest was an unfair trick to secure him for extradition, a CBSA representative said: “Does he know they have or they haven’t [requested extradition]? Can he say that with a 100% certainty? I can’t.”
In affidavits later filed by the government, CBSA admitted it had known there had been a request, but argued the statement meant there was no evidence on the tribunal’s record of a request and, also, that the request was confidential.
“A finding that a representative of the Crown has intentionally misled a tribunal is a very serious matter,” wrote Judge Mactavish. “While the comment identified above is troubling, I have decided to give the minister’s representative the benefit of the doubt in this case. I would, however, note that this was a close call.”
But the government also argued that by not revealing the request, it made Mr. Tursunbayev’s job easier.
The fact that the Kazakh government has requested Mr. Tursunbayev face trial in his homeland offers a powerful argument that releasing him while he argues his immigration status in Canada would be a bad idea, the government argued.
CBSA fears Mr. Tursunbayev will flee, a concern fuelled by his “unexplained wealth” and multiple passports.
At previous hearings, it was heard that Mr. Tursunbayev transferred $4.3-million through a Swiss bank from an account on the British Virgin Islands 11 days after entering Canada. In Canada, he was living north of Toronto in a $3.6-million mansion.