Sans Foi Ni Loi: French Government Protects Scavengers, Mocks Victims
Using a recommendation from the Council of State, its supreme advisory body, as an excuse, the government of France has deemed itself above the law and overturned long proceedings in court in which it was established beyond any doubt that the case of Mukhtar Ablyazov, Kazakhstan’s master swindler who stole between 6 and 12 billion in US dollar from shareholders, deposit holders and creditors using the bank BTA he controlled as a vehicle, had nothing political and everything criminal to it. It opens the way to cover up the affair by removing it from headlines and allow the culprit to organise a new network of proxy firms to hide the bounty and destroy any evidence left. But it also gives him a chance to go ahead with what he openly declares to have in store for Kazakhstan: civil war and nothing less.
News reports on the government’s move, contradicting all its earlier proceedings and those of the country’s courts of law, have been by and large brief and indifferent. “France’s highest administrative court on Friday canceled an extradition order to send jailed Kazakh tycoon Mukhtar Ablyazov to Russia on the grounds that the request was made for political reasons. Ablyazov, who was arrested in France in 2013, is accused of embezzling up to $6 billion from his former bank BTA. The decision by the Conseil d’Etat cancels the extradition order signed by then-Prime Minister Manuel Valls in 2015, which gave the green light to send Ablyazov either to Ukraine or Russia,” Reuters wrote in a brief report on the event. ADVERTISINGinvented by Teads”The Conseil d’Etat believes that the extradition request to Russia was presented with a political motive,” the agency quoted its statement as reading.
Similar reluctance to take a closer look at the backgrounds was demonstrated when in 2013 Ablyazov was arrested. “Ablyazov was arrested in the village of Mouans-Sartoux about 8 km (5 miles) north of Cannes in southern France, a police source said. A court hearing has been scheduled for Thursday, added a second source, who could not confirm the hearing’s location,” Reuters while quoting “two sources” without elaborating reported at the time. “International police agency Interpol said on its website Ablyazov was wanted by Russia on separate charges including ‘large scale fraud’, money laundering and document forgery. Ablyazov spent time in Russia between 2003 and 2005. He had been put on a so-called Interpol Red Notice, which is similar to an international arrest warrant.”
“You cannot buy the French justice system”
Except for one setback due to technical shortcomings in court proceedings, both prosecutors and judges in France showed themselves openly and unanimously supportive to initially Ukraine’s and after that was dropped Russia’s claim. Reuters in a report on the initial verdict by the court of Lyon the following winter in favour of extradition quoted prosecutor Solange Legras as saying: “When you have so much money, you can buy everything. But you cannot buy the French justice system. You will have to submit to its rules” – adding: “The court favoured extradition to Russia because it had suffered a greater financial loss, at $5 billion, rather than Ukraine, which lost $400 million, as a result of Ablyazov’s alleged embezzlement. The budget of the French justice system is less than the sum diverted by Mr. Ablyazov from the Russian Federation alone. […] Both Kiev and Moscow [are] bound by the Geneva Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights which barred returning a political refugee to his home country, or transferring him to a third country without the agreement of the extraditing power, in this case France,” – concluding: “It is easy to be an opponent to hide one’s true nature as a fraudster.”
The French Conseil’s judgement has no force of law and can be either followed or ignored by the government. In most cases it is followed, but in this particular case the government diametrically reversed a long sequence of decisions allowing Ablyazov’s extradition to France and swept all court rulings in appeal aside. So why did the French government change its view on the man who so far it had considered no more and no less than a common criminal into that of a political martyr? Usually, the chorus of human rights organisations, varying from respectable to obscure, makes little impression on French governments where their notorious claim of “raison d’état” is at stake. In other words: maybe you cannot buy the French justice system. But you can buy the French government – with stolen money. As for so-called himan rights groups crying wolf over justice taking place, it is time somebody checks their list of donors…
A Kazakh Professor Moriarti
The end (at least for France) of the Ablyazov affair is (at least) the third time Europe’s courts of law let the world know that as far as they are concerned each and every individual accused in any former Soviet republic of any kind of wrongdoing is automatically an innocent victim of savage repression. The most outrageous case concerning Kazakhstan was that of an Austrian court which let two very dangerous criminals go free in summer 2015 while the third, even more dangerous one would have walked along with them had he not hanged himself in an Austrian prison months earlier. That was Rakhat Aliyev, former son-in-law of Kazakh head of state Nursultan Nazarbayev, and widely considered the modern Kazakh version of Professor Moriarti from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s tales. Much to the distress of prosecutors and the relatives of the victims of the double murder the three stood trial for, the case was dismissed with the jury and most of all a hateful and ill-mannered judge hardly making a secret of their contempt and disinterest.
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The story of Mukhtar Ablyazov, one-time major shareholder and chief executive of Kazakhstan’s BTA bank, tells how well over 10 billion US dollar is supposed to have been reaped through his network of close to 800 fake companies.
Sheer negligence displayed by the authorities of The Netherlands, Luxemburg, the USA and a number of other financial crime havens has even more discouraged BTA and its lawyers. The only other countries where authorities have done something to help Ablyazov’s victims are Cyprus and the Czech Republic, even though the intervention was halfhearted and the results have been somewhat less than impressive. But also the English judicial and law enforcement institutions have shown severe shortcomings in their proceedings. In the cases of Ablyazov, which in the process led to his and one of his accomplices’ conviction to jail terms of 22 and 18 years for “contempt of court” which is the official term for perjury and/or refusal to comply with court orders, it has been declared numerous times that Ablyazov’s assets were illegally obtained, read: stolen, and courts repeatedly recognised not just that, but also that on British territory billions in Sterling had been whitewashed. This led to a so-called freezing order, aimed at serving the theft’s victim, mainly Bank BTA, to get stolen funds and assets back.
One would say that recognition by a court of law that the law has been broken is as good as proof even in case parties maintain the right to contest the validity of that proof. But the proceedings in England were carried out by a civil court, not a penal one. Nevertheless, the fact that the court recognised the alleged wrongdoing by the culprit and his associates as such should have been reason for prosecutors and their investigators to pursue criminal proceedings. Scotland Yard, however, never showed an inch of interest in the affair, in sharp contrast to cases such as those of millionaire football stars who after decades all of a sudden remember that they used to have sex with their trainers in their younger years and now get the carpet rolled out for it both at Scotland Yard and the Royal Court…
Ablyazov’s fantasy tale
As long as he was jailed, French justice had the opportunity to grill Ablyazov concerning the charges against him, but at the same time they were implicitly recognised in all the verdicts of the highest instance. Apparently undeterred because of this lack of action, only days after his release from jail, the culprit, apparently still in France, unleashed a new avalanche of dark propaganda similar to those he had told English courts of law and the public, in an interview with the centre-left daily Libération. The interview consists of the usual pack of lies Ablyazov has been telling courts of law England for years at an erlier stage of the whole affair. « J’ai un statut de réfugié politique en Grande-Bretagne qui fonctionne dans toute l’Union européenne. […] En Angleterre, j’ai fait l’objet d’un jugement par contumace, après mon départ, car la police anglaise ne pouvait plus garantir ma sécurité. » – I have the status of political refugee in Great Britain which is valid for the entire European Union […] In England, I have been ruled a judgement in my absence, after my departure [which was] because the English police could no longer guarantee my safety.”
The truth, as the whole world should be aware, is that Ablyazov’s refugee status in the UK has been withdrawn years ago, that he has fled the country not before but after a court condemned him to 22 months in prison for perjury and that there exists no single document about the English police not being able to “guarantee” his safety. In fact, police had the order to arrest him and duly get him behind bars, which it is still bound to do should he set foot on British territory once more. Second, a political asylum granted by any EU member state is not automatically recognised by all other member states, not even within the Schengen Group of which Britain has never been a member. And even if it were so, the UK is leaving the EU which leaves Ablyazov’s fantasy tale completely meaningless. Third, a stockpile of court documents concerning the freezing order of Ablyazov’s assets worldwide, bought with stolen money, and cash resulting by fraud, means that the English justice has accepted BTA’s case that the funds have indeed been stolen.
A similar fictional statement concerns the French justice: « Nous avons fait valoir que la banque n’est pas indépendante, que c’est le gouvernement kazakh qui est derrière, Nazarbaïev personnellement, the interview reads further down. Nous avons présenté ces preuves à la justice française, qui les a acceptées. Nous allons utiliser la décision française contre le gouvernement kazakh en Angleterre. Légalement, je suis protégé. », the interview continues – “We have made it valid that the bank [BTA – ChvdL] is not independent, and that the Kazakh government is behind it, meaning Nazarbayev in person. We have presented this evidence to the French justice, which has accepted it. Legally speaking, I am protected.” In fact, the “evidence presented” by Ablyazov’s lawyers has been rejected, not accepted, by all the French courts involved. The fact that the government, which only vaguely refers to the fact that Russia’s prisons are in a bad conditions and does not mention a word about whether the fraud, embezzlement, laundering and related charges hold any truth or not. It all means that Ablyazov may be politically “protected” but certainly not legally. As for the government of France, it has undermined the very foundations of Montesquieu’s trias politica, and deeming itself above the law turned the entire notion of independent justice into a morbid joke.
Civil war in Kazakhstan on Ablyazov’s mind
Remains the question: how dangerous is Ablyazov today? The answer: very much so indeed. In the interview, he claims always to have had, and assumably, still thinks he has, a powerful fifth colum within Kazakhstan’s state ranks. « J’avais des moyens mais surtout des contacts importants à tous les niveaux du gouvernement, dans les services secrets, au ministère de l’Intérieur, the interview reads. J’étais au courant de tous les ordres que pouvait donner Nazarbaïev, il y avait beaucoup de gens qui pouvaient me prévenir. Tout le monde n’est pas loyal. […] Cette masse de mécontents doit se consolider. Il faut désormais l’organiser. […] Ce pouvoir ne peut être changé que par la force, Nazarbaïev ne le lâchera pas volontairement. Mais il suffit de 50 000 personnes dans la rue à Almaty. Il suffit d’arrêter Nazarbaïev et un cercle étroit autour de lui. Je nous donne trois ans maximum. » – “I used to have the means but most of all the contacts on all government levels, the secret services, the interior ministry, there were many people able to warn me. Not everybody is loyal. […] This mass of discontent must consolidate itself. It must therefore from here on be organised. […] Nazarbayev will not voluntarily let go. But it is enough to bring 50,000 people to the streets in Almaty It is enough to detain Nazarbayev and a narrow circle surrounding him. I give us three years maximum.” This, in fact, should be reason enough at least to deport him from France. There are laws in France which not only allow but even oblige the authorities to act upon an open conspiracy taking place on its territory to topple the government of another UN member state.
One thing, though not really meant in this way, Ablyazov claims in the interview is true and now for the first time unwittingly recognised by him: « Entre 2003 et 2005, je vivais à Moscou et menais une activité dissidente. Début 2005, j’ai financé l’opposition pour qu’elle fasse tomber le régime au Kirghizistan. C’était important pour moi que, dans l’une des républiques post-soviétiques, le processus commence, qu’ils passent les bonnes réformes. » – Between 2003 and 2005, I lived in Moscow and carried out a dissident activity. In the beginning of 2005, I have financed the opposition in Kyrgyzstan to cause the regime’s downfall. It was important for me to make the process of good reforms in one of the post-Soviet republics begin.” It means that he has helped the Bakiyev gang into the saddle, helped them in racketeering the country’s resources and funds (he got richly rewarded for it little later) and should be held co-responsible for the killings of April 2010 in Bishkek and the mass killings in Osh two months later. He has just admitted it.
And what he has in store for Kazakhstan looks pretty much the same – most probably even a lot worse. The “narrow circle” consisting of top state echelons consists of thousands of state officials, plus security forces, in Astana alone – without counting the Kazakh army which is suspected to have a number of conspirers in its ranks but on the whole is considered loyal. A mass demonstration in Almaty will therefore not pose any threat to the state – unless a second Maidan mushroom should spurt up. What could happen, though, is a string of uprisings in Almaty and other cities, with “opposition” forces paid and armed by American and other western agencies with the help of Ablyazov’s billions. That is bound to lead to a rise of Daesh, now lurking in northern Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Thousands of their “fighters”, many of whom are of Central-Asian origin, could easily pour into Kazakhstan, considering it a ripe apple about to fall into their hands. This can only lead to a situation pretty similar to the ones in Iraq, Libya and Syria: chaos, destruction and death. Tracing the stolen billions should lead to identifying the underground organisation’s structure and locations. This is the only way to stop Ablyazov and cronies from pushing Kazakhstan towards a state of civil war and keep the Kazakh nation in one piece.