Clarification of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the deportation of Mukhtar Ablyazov’s wife and daughter to Kazakhstan

June 05. MFA

Clarification of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the deportation of Mukhtar Ablyazov’s wife and daughter to KazakhstanAs widely reported, on Saturday 1st June, Mukhtar Ablyazov’s wife and daughter were deported back to Kazakhstan from Italy. We would like to clarify the circumstances of the deportation and dismiss some of the groundless claims made by Mr Ablyazov in the aftermath.

On 29 May, Italian authorities raided a property in the suburbs of Rome where they believed Mukhtar Ablyazov was in hiding.

While Ablyazov was not found at the scene, his wife, Alma Shalabayeva was detained after she presented Italian authorities with a fake passport, issued by the Central African Republic in the name of Ayan Alma. When Italian authorities identified the forgery, Shalabayeva then informed the police she was in fact from Kazakhstan and the Kazakh Embassy in Rome was contacted for confirmation.

Italian authorities then requested the deportation to Kazakhstan of Shalabayeva and her daughter, Alua Ablyazova, for immigration offences. The consulate of the Embassy of Kazakhstan in Italy issued the deportation certificates at the Italian authorities’ request. The repatriation was not carried out at the request of the Kazakhstan authorities – it was a deportation not an extradition.

Shalabayeva and her daughter arrived back in Kazakhstan on 1st June. They are now residing with Shalabayeva’s parents in Almaty. Shalabayeva is not in detention or under house arrest. She is, however, currently under investigation in connection with a separate case involving illegally obtained Kazakh passports, which were issued to Ablyazov’s relatives when they were leaving the country, allegedly in exchange for bribes.

The case against the immigration officials who illegally issued the passports is being heard in a court in Atyrau, Western Kazakhstan While an illegal passport was issued bearing her name, Shalabayeva’s level of involvement in the case is yet to be determined and investigations are on-going. She has claimed to have never used the passport and the Kazakh authorities are liaising with international counterparts to verify her statement.

Shalabayeva is not accused of Mr Ablyazov’s crimes and will not be prosecuted for his actions. She is, however, considered an important witness and will be questioned with regards to the whereabouts of her husband, as well as in connection to the illegally issued Kazakh passports. She has the right not to testify against her husband, as guaranteed under the Kazakhstan legislation.

Shalabayeva is considered a flight risk and is not allowed to leave Almaty (which she voluntarily chose as the place of residence for the period of investigation) while the investigation is on-going.

The case against Mukhtar Ablyazov

Ablyazov has been on the run from Kazakhstani authorities since 2009 after BTA Bank – the bank he chaired – was found to have an estimated $15Bn hole in its accounts – money which he is believed to have embezzled.

In Kazakhstan, Ablyazov is currently facing criminal cases related to the fraud and misuse of BTA Bank funds, involvement in an organised criminal group and money laundering. An international arrest warrant was issued on 6th March 2009. Authorities in Russia and Ukraine have issued separate arrest warrants for related crimes.

BTA Bank has also pursued a civil court case in the UK, where Ablyazov had relocated, and recently won judgments in the High Court to recover $4billion of assets he was proved to have misappropriated. Ablyazov fled the UK after a British judge sentenced him to 22 months in prison for contempt of court for attempting to conceal the stolen assets and obstruct the investigation – a judgment upheld by the UK’s Supreme Court on appeal.

Given the presence of his family in Italy, we believe he has been in the country and local law enforcement agencies will continue their efforts to locate and arrest Mukhtar Ablyazov. He remains on the run and we will continue to work with our international partners to progress investigations and bring him to justice.