Kazakhgate: Myth Busted
Kazakhgate is the name of a widespread story in the Belgian media, according to which a change in the Belgian Code of Criminal Procedure happened because of some negotiations between the former French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his counterpart in Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev.
More specifically, Nazarbayev agreed to buy some 40 helicopters from France only if his alleged close friend Patokh Chodiev, an Uzbek oligarch with Belgian nationality, was cleared of all charges brought against him by Belgian prosecutors.
According to the story, Sarkozy and Chodiev both pressured top Belgian politicians and government officials to change the Code of Criminal Procedure so that to become possible to enter into transactions with the Public Prosecutor to terminate the public prosecution of offences at all the stages of a criminal procedure.
As a result, on 17 June 2011 Chodiev was the first beneficiary of the amendment, by entering into a transaction with the Public Prosecutors in Brussels.
Ten days later, on 27 June 2011, France and Kazakhstan signed a deal according to which Kazakhstan agreed to buy 40 Eurocopter helicopters from France.
Therefore, the story goes, the oligarch Chodiev was the cause of a highly disputed reform of the Belgian criminal law.
However, OSI can prove that this story is false. All its elements are nothing but myths.
Myth number one: the deal between France and Kazakhstan included a clause to support Chodiev
An agreement between France and Kazakhstan regarding Eurocopter was signed in October 2009. EADS and Eurocopter signed a cooperation agreement with the sovereign wealth fund SAMRUK-KAZYNA to create a public-private joint venture in Kazakhstan in order to develop helicopter activities. (source: http://www.deagel.com/)
One year later, on 27 October 2010, France and Kazakhstan signed in Paris a framework agreement according to which Eurocopter and Kazakhstan Engineering were to create a 50/50 joint venture to assemble and customise EC145s in Kazakhstan. The agreement also included the development of local maintenance and training activities to support EC145 operations throughout the new customs union zone created this summer by Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus and the entire Central Asian region.
A second accord was a memorandum of understanding (MOU) – signed with Eurocopter, its parent company EADS and the Kazakhstan Ministry of Defence to confirm its intention to purchase 45 EC145 helicopters in the next 6 years.
According to Airbus’ press release, “the Eurocopter/Kazakhstan Engineering joint venture calls for the assembly and customisation of EC145s in Astana, Kazakhstan. This organisation will be formally established by December of this year, allowing completion of the first in-country helicopters – to be called the KH145 – by late 2011. According to the MOU, the 45 KH145s acquired by Kazakhstan will be assembled during a six-year period, with an initial batch of six helicopters to be delivered next year.” (source: https://www.airbusgroup.com/)
In other words, in October 2010 Kazakhstan already agreed to buy 45 Eurocopter helicopters, and to establish a joint venture between Eurocopter and Kazakhstan Engineering to produce these helicopters. The deal was closed.
As a result, a new company, Eurocopter Kazakhstan Engineering, was established. It was registered on 6 December 2010, as agreed in the framework agreement, and registered again on 8 April 2011. (source: )
To sum it up, all the major details of the deal between Kazakhstan and France – namely, to create a joint venture, Eurocopter Kazakhstan Engineering, who will produce helicopters in Kazakhstan, to register this joint venture, to start the production in 2011, and to sell 45 helicopters to the Kazakhstan Ministry of Defence (the first six of which to be produced and sold in 2011) – were already formally and firmly agreed in October 2010, long before the reform of the Belgian Code of Criminal Procedure, which was voted on 14 April 2011.
Therefore, the suggestion that Nazarbayev agreed to buy the helicopters on the condition to find a way to keep Chodiev clear of all charges in Belgium simply doesn’t hold water. Kazakhstan took upon itself the clear and firm obligation to buy 45 helicopters almost six months before the criminal law reform was voted in Belgium, and almost eight months before Chodiev entered a transaction with the prosecutors.
Once the agreement was signed, it would have been impossible for Kazakhstan to forfeit its obligation, because this would have meant a breach of contract. And one doesn’t have to be a lawyer to understand that a breach of contract has serious consequences.
It is true that on 27 June 2011 a new agreement was signed between Eurocopter and Kazakhstan Engineering (source: http://www.airbusgroup.com), but this agreement dealt only with the start of the actual production of helicopters, as previously agreed in 2010. In other words, this new agreement meant only that Kazakhstan acted upon the obligations that it took upon itself in October 2010.
This was clearly stated by the Vice President of Kazakhstan Engineering, who declared that the new agreement was based on the framework agreement signed on 27 October 2010. (source: https://en.tengrinews.kz)
Therefore, the fact that this new agreement was signed after Chodiev entered a transaction with the Belgian prosecutors means absolutely nothing. In other words, the idea that Chodiev was part of the deal between Kazakhstan and France is but a myth. OSI busted it.
Myth number two: Chodiev was the first beneficiary of the Belgian judicial reform regarding the transactions between prosecutors and alleged wrongdoers
OSI busted this myth too, proving that the French bank Société Générale was indeed the first beneficiary (see here: http://www.opensourceinvestigations.com, and here: http://www.opensourceinvestigations.com).
Myth number three: Chodiev’s lawyers drafted the amendment that extended the scope of transactions with the prosecutors
OSI proved that the amendment was drafted in 2009 by lobbyists form the Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC), an umbrella foundation representing the interests of the diamond traders in Belgium. See here for details: http://www.opensourceinvestigations.com.
The Belgian politicians who introduced and supported the amendment were members of the “Diamond Club,” an informal and secretive group aimed to offer parliamentarian support to the diamond traders in Anvers by actively defending their interests. (For more details, see also http://www.opensourceinvestigations.com.)
In other words, OSI also busted myth number three.
In conclusion, everything we know from the Belgian media about the so-called Kazakhgate is wrong. Literally, everything is wrong.
These myths could have been easily busted by any investigative journalist, just like OSI busted them. One has to wonder, then, why the Belgian media chose not to bust them but to keep disseminating them over and over again, without even bothering to check the facts.