The Rakhat Aliyev files: after Liechtenstein, now Malta’s Pandora box opens up
For the second time, Kazakhstan’s prodigal son-in-law (of the head of state, that is) has seen his assets on Malta frozen by a court of law, in the course of proceedings concerning allegations of money laundering on the Mediterranean island. With the European Commission openly refusing to cooperate, it will now be up to member states of the EU to help a Kazakh thief, murderer and what else get the reward he deserves: a long time behind bars. However, with pieces of the puzzle – especially where the thefts are concerned but also in relation to physical crimes – piling up, attempts to put them all together seem to be at a primary stage so far – with little hopes to turn into concrete action against the culprit soon – all very much to victims’ frustration.
BY CHARLES VAN DER LEEUW, WRITER, NEWS ANALYST
It happened before and now it happened again. “Maltese authorities froze the assets of former ambassador of Kazakhstan to Austria, Rakhat Aliyev (Shoraz). According to “Malta Today”, the General State Attorney ruled the “freezing of accounts and assets” due to suspicion of money laundering,” a report posted on the site tagdyr [http://en.tagdyr.net/5763/frozen-cash-flows] on June 26 last year was to read. “The measures taken by the Maltese authorities are fully comprehensible considering that the suspicious circumstances on Malta seem to become more and more definite. Moreover, Malta is surely not the only country where Aliyev conducted his business operations with laundered money. We have reported on several occasions on Aliyev’s money laundering networks which were spread all over Europe and Austria was the main ‘hotspot’. The reference is made here to the decision of the Higher Regional Court in Vienna. It confirmed the suspicion that Rakhat Aliyev was the founder and the head of a criminal association in Kazakhstan which accumulated money through extortion, embezzlement and forgery of third-party assets. Those assets (three-digit million amounts) were then allocated in Europe by trustees and stooges, which explicitly refer to money laundering.”
Only a few months later, however, the Maltese court revoked the freezing order with no reasons to speak of given. Now, Malta’s authorities once more come back on their earlier reversal of the freezing order. “The Criminal Court has issued a freezing order on the assets owned by Kazakh exile Rakhat Aliyev, in the first confirmed action that the embattled millionaire was being investigated over money laundering, MaltaToday reported [http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/en/newsdetails/news/national/Aliyev-s-assets-frozen-by-court-order-20140303] on March 5. “The freezing order was issued against Aliyev, 52, and his Austrian wife Elnara Shorazova, and a host of companies he is connected to. The freezing order has been communicated to Banif Bank and Bank of Valletta, as well as the inland revenue and VAT departments, the public registry and the financial services authority, Ganado Trustees & Fiduciaries and Iuris Fiduciaries. The order prohibits Aliyev and his wife Elnara Shorazova, and the companies mentioned, from transferring or otherwise disposing of any movable or immovable property.”
Despite reluctance on European levels to get some regional coordination in nailing the culprit, fact-fincing by Malta’s authorities has apparently started to look beyond national boundaries. “The Maltese money laundering investigations only add to similar investigations in Krefeld, Germany,” the news report reads further down. “According to the freezing order, Aliyev is also connected to two companies set up with an address at Pendergardens, in St Julian’s – Bongu Media Malta and Malta Press Agency. Malta Press Agency Ltd is owned by Liliya Rakhmatullina, who is a director on another company A.V. Maximus Holding AG in Vienna. This company already features in money laundering investigations in Germany, as having been used as a channel for illegal monies to flow to subsidiaries Armoreal GmbH and S.T.A.R.T. Managementconsulting GmbH. Bongu Media Malta is then owned by Kathleen Narodetsky, while her husband and journalist Alexander Narodetsky owns a 1% shareholding – both are based in Leeds, UK. Narodestky was once a director of the United States Congress funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in Kiev (known as Radio Svoboda), in the Ukraine. Another company whose assets have been frozen are Olympic Yachting Limited – possibly used as the owner of his personal yacht – whose shareholder is Ganado Trustees & Fiduciaries. Other companies are AJ Trust, Sydney Trust, and Athina Trust of Malta; and Acquarius Trust Company Limited and Aurelius Holdings Limited of Gibraltar; and EDS Holdings Ltds and Crimson Limited.”
Still, procedures hoped for by Aliyev’s victims by be hampered by numerous loopholes. “In 2013, complaints submitted to both the Viennese prosecutor and the Maltese police, seen for the first time by MaltaToday, revealed a network of companies connected to Aliyev. According to Austrian lawyers Lansky Ganzger Partner, the money was laundered from alleged criminal activity, but MaltaToday cannot substantiate this claim. The lawyers mapped out a complex network of transaction flows: in the first step, money was fed via two offshore companies, AV Maximus SA and Argocom Ltd into another company, A.V. Maximus Holding AG. That money was then channelled into subsidiaries Armoreal GmbH and S.T.A.R.T. Managementconsulting GmbH. In the second step, loans were granted between the subsidiaries, with large amounts going to the German company Metallwerke Bender Rheinland. In the third step, the money flowed back to A.V. Maximus SA or, via A.V. Maximus Holding AG, to Maltese and Caribbean enterprises. The Austrian A.V. Maximus Holding was owned by a Maltese company, A & P Power Ltd, which was itself owned by A + P Power Holdings Ltd, registered in the Caribbean island of Nevis. A & P Power Ltd, whose official purpose was indicated as rendering aeronautics services, was used by Shorazova to transfer the sum of €2.4 million from Austria to Malta. In 2009 it had assets of just €300, incurring a loss of €2,100 in 2010. Now seated at the address of Joseph Giglio’s law firm, A & P Power has been renamed Zurich Asset Management Ltd. Berlin lawyers Danckert Spiller Richter Bärlein, acting on behalf of the Kazakh ministry of justice, also filed its own report to the Maltese Attorney General. In their dossier, DSRB claimed that Aliyev shifted to Malta over €100 million in alleged “criminal gains” during his time as deputy head of the Kazakh secret service.”
FULL TEXT OF THE FEBRUARY 25, 2014, MAALTESE COURT FREEZING ORDER
IT IS BEING NOTIFIED that by a decree dated 25th February 2014 given by the Criminal Court (Mr Justice Lawrence Quintano LL.D) after an application filed by the Attorney General dated 25th February 2014 in the names: Attorney General Versus: ELNARA SHORAZOVA, born on the 11th April 1976 in Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan and residing at 12, “Qui Si Sana Court”, Flat 6, Qui Si Sana sea front, Sliema and holder of identity card bearing number 57732A; RAKHAT SHORAZ also known as RAKHAT M. ALIYEV, born on the 10th December 1962 in Almaty, Kazakhstan and residing at 12, “Qui Si Sana Court”, Flat 6, Qui Si Sana sea front, Sliema and holder of identity card bearing number 57731A; OLYMPIA YACHTING LIMITED, registered in Malta bearing registration number C55516 the shareholder of which is Ganado Trustees & Fiduciaries Limited, registered at 171, Old Bakery Street, Valletta; AJ TRUST (MALTA); SYDNEY TRUST (MALTA); ATHINA TRUST (MALTA); ACQUARIUS TRUST COMPANY LIMITED (GIBRALTAR); AURELIUS HOLDINGS LIMITED (GIBRALTAR); EDS HOLDINGS LTD, bearing registration number C 43705 and registered at 25/16, Vincenti Buildings, Strait Street, Valletta; CRIMSON LIMITED, (C 42974) registered at 25/16, Vincenti Buildings, Strait Street, Valletta; BONGU MEDIA MALTA LIMITED (C 54291) of 1332, Pender Gardens, Ivo Muscat Azzopardi Street, St Julians; MALTA PRESS AGENCY LIMITED (C56734) of 1224, Pender Gardens, Ivo Muscat Azzopardi Street, St Julians; ORDERED the attachment in the hands of Banif Bank (Malta) plc, Bank of Valletta plc, Public Registry (of Malta and Gozo), Department of Inland Revenue (including the Capital Transfer Duty Department), VAT department, Malta Financial Services Authority, Transport Malta, Ganado Trustees & Fiduciaries Limited, Iuris Fiduciaries Limited and Registrar of Companies and in the hands of Elnara Shorazova, Rakhat Shoraz also known as Rakhat M. Aliyev, Olympia Yachting Limited, AJ Trust (Malta), Sydney Trust (Malta), Athina Trust (Malta), Acquarius Trust Company Limited (Gibraltar), Aurelius Holdings Limited (Gibraltar), EDS Holdings Limited, Crimson Limited, Bongu Media Malta Limited and Malta Press Agency Limited. Moreover, it prohibited the accused, that is, Elnara Shorazova, Rakhat Shoraz also known as Rakhat M. Aliyev, Olympia Yachting Limited, AJ Trust (Malta), Sydney Trust (Malta), Athina Trust (Malta), Acquarius Trust Company Limited (Gibraltar), Aurelius Holdings Limited (Gibraltar), EDS Holdings Limited, Crimson Limited, Bongu Media Malta Limited and Malta Press Agency from transferring or otherwise disposing of any movable or immovable property. These orders were made according to Article 435C of Chapter 9 of the Laws of Malta and Article 10 of Chapter 373 of the Laws of Malta. Today, 27th February 2014 Registry of the Courts of Criminal Judicature (Malta) Dr John Seychell Navarro Dip. Hlth Science, Dip Mgmt Stud., Dip. Not. Pub., LL.B., LL,D Assistant Registrar Criminal Courts and Criminal Tribunals (Malta)
Equally faint hopes glimmer for two victims caught by Rakhat Aliyev in the course of his preparations during his days of glory in Kazakhstan (“He had it all – he wanted more” as one Kazakh commentator quaintly put it looking back in time). The case has been subject to hair-cleaving exercises by legal parties involved. But the struggle goes on. “Two Kazakh nationals have made a renewed police challenge, to ask the Maltese law courts to investigate their accusations of torture against Kazakh exile Rakhat Aliyev, who resides in Malta,” MaltaToday reported just a day before the publication of the eye-opening report quoted above. “Despite repeated requests, the police have so far refused to investigate complaints by former bodyguards Satzhev Ibraev and Pyotr Afanasenko. The two men claim they were tortured on order of Aliyev in 2001, and personally beaten by him, to extract a false confession that their boss, former prime minister Akezhan Kazageldin, was plotting a coup against Aliyev’s father-in-law, Kazakh dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev. This is the second challenge to the courts after the Attorney General’s office said that the police had no jurisdiction to investigate ‘crimes against humanity’. The two bodyguards have filed a new challenge, reiterating that although they made four requests to Peter Paul Zammit to investigate their torture complaint, the Commissioner of Police did not take any action. Their lawyer says that Article 139A of the Criminal Code is clear about what torture is.”
The fresh attempt follows an utter disappointment towards the end of last year, with Maltese officials hiding behind sheer formalities. “Only last week, two Kazakhi nationals requested that the police investigate their accusations of torture against Aliyev,” the November 12 report in MaltaToday reads further down. “But despite repeated requests, the Maltese police have so far refused to investigate complaints by former bodyguards Satzhev Ibraev and Pyotr Afanasenko. The two men claim they were tortured on order of Aliyev in 2001, and personally beaten by him, to extract a false confession that their boss, former prime minister Akezhan Kazageldin, was plotting a coup against Aliyev’s father-in-law, Nursultan Nazarbayev. Aliyev – a surgeon who married Nazarbayev’s daughter to become a powerful media tycoon and deputy chief of the Kazakh secret service – denies the allegations of torture, claiming the two bodyguards are being forced to run ‘a systematic smear campaign’ against him to avert their own persecution. Aliyev claims that Kazakh secret agents are in Malta to monitor his movements, and possibly kill him and his family. ‘The Kazakh secret service has long been trying to influence the Maltese courts, the Attorney General and the police force,’ he said, although the multimillionaire exile has found little hindrance in obtaining passage to Malta.”
Meanwhile, more details about what actually happened to the victims has been filtered through. “Ibraev and Afanasenko have presented sworn affidavits claiming they were imprisoned for over four months in ‘inhumane condition’, threatened with violence and death,” in the report’s words. “They threatened to arrest my wife and inflict violence on her. They threatened to pursue my children and close relative. Furthermore, the investigators and operatives did not conceal that they were acting on personal orders from Rakhat Aliyev, who had instructed them to do whatever was necessary to extract a confession from me that would allow a warrant for the arrest of Akezhan Kahegeldin,” Ibraev was quoted in the report as saying. “Afanasenko also claims in his affidavit that Aliyev told him that if he didn’t testify that Kazhegelding was planning a coup, ‘my daughters [would] be pumped full of drugs and raped’.” Changes in attempts to get justice done in Malta for the two victims tend to look rather bleak, though.”Under former police commissioner John Rizzo, four complaints to have the torture allegations investigated were not taken up, and the Attorney General has backed up the police so far,” Malta Today concludes its article.