Moldovan businessman to seek forced sale of Kazakh oil field stake

Moldovan businessman to seek forced sale of Kazakh oil field stake

ALMATY, Jan 9 (Reuters) – Moldovan businessman Anatolie Stati will ask bailiffs to sell a $5.2 billion stake in the Kashagan oil field owned by a Kazakh sovereign wealth fund if Astana refuses to pay an arbitration award, Stati’s spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

“This is the expected course of action,” the spokeswoman said in response to a question about the possibility of Stati seeking the sale of a slice of the giant Caspian oil field.

“We will aggressively pursue enforcement in all relevant jurisdictions until the Republic of Kazakhstan complies with its treaty commitment to the award.”

Samruk-Kazyna, the Central Asian nation’s sovereign wealth fund which holds half of Kazakhstan’s 16.88 percent Kashagan stake through a Dutch company, had no immediate comment. Samruk-Kazyna’s stake has been frozen by a Dutch court.

Kashagan, operated by Eni, Total, Shell , ExxonMobil, Kazakh state firm KazMunayGaz , China’s CNPC and Japan’s Inpex, is Kazakhstan’s biggest oil field.

Stati, his son Gabriel, and two family-controlled companies have been involved in legal battles with the Kazakh government of President Nursultan Nazarbayev for several years.

They invested in Kazakhstan’s oil and gas industry and have asserted that they were subjected to significant harassment from the state aimed at forcing them to sell their investments cheaply.

Kazakhstan denies the allegations, but Anatolie and Gabriel Stati and two of their companies – Ascom Group S.A. and Terra Raf Trans Traiding Ltd., won an international arbitration award of around $500 million against the government.

It has refused to pay, however, and in October Kazakhstan filed a civil racketeering lawsuit in the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., against the Statis and their two firms.

Last October, Bank of New York Mellon froze $22.6 billion in assets held by Kazakhstan’s National Fund, another sovereign wealth fund, following a lawsuit by Stati. (Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Additional reporting by Raushan Nurshayeva in Astana; Editing by Andrey Ostroukh)