ADDRESSING THE SITUATION IN KAZAKHSTAN CONCERNING KLEPTOCRACY

Congressional Record Vol. 167, No. 79
(Extensions of Remarks — May 07, 2021)

  Mr. THOMPSON of Mississippi. Madam Speaker, I would like to take this 
opportunity today to recognize the importance of the bilateral 
relationship between the United States and Kazakhstan. Following the 
dissolution of the Soviet Union, the United States, on December 25, 
1991, was the first country to recognize Kazakhstan's independence. 
Thereafter, the Clinton Administration facilitated the entry of Kazakh 
oil to the world market via the CPC export pipeline. American companies 
were the first to enter the Kazakh economy but were soon pushed aside 
from the most attractive projects, such as Chinese companies which have 
invariably won international tenders for privatized assets.
  I rise today to express my growing concern over an article published 
by author Tom Burgis. The article contains information surrounding 
leaked documents that indicate the former Kazakh president's son-in-
law, Timur Kulibayev, designed a scheme that would result in him 
receiving tens of millions of dollars from contracts related to a 
multibillion-dollar gas pipeline between Central Asia and China.
  The Asia Gas Pipeline project was to accelerate a shift of economic 
power from the West to the East. Built jointly by Kazakhstan and China, 
these pipelines would stretch around 2000 miles and be funded by 
Chinese loans. ``The first two lines would cost $7.5bn, with a third to 
follow for some $3bn and a fourth after that.''
  Author Tom Burgis states, ``Mr. Kulibayev, who has served on the 
Russian energy giant's board since 2011, is the son-in-law of the 
former Kazakh president and has wide-ranging business interests, from 
banking to mining and real estate. As one of the most powerful 
officials in the country, he oversaw the state companies that awarded 
contracts to build the pipelines across Kazakhstan. Emails sent between 
2008 and 2014 and leaked by a whistleblower contain detailed 
descriptions of a set-up that it appears would allow Mr. Kulibayev to 
receive a share of the profits from pipeline contracts granted to ETK, 
a company owned by Russian businessman Alexander Karmanov.''
  This is not Timur Kulibayev's first time coming to the attention of 
the West. In 2007, it was revealed that he was the mystery buyer of a 
multimillion-dollar Sunninghill Park estate that the Queen had given 
Prince Andrew as a wedding present. He also has faced money-laundering 
allegations in a Swiss case, which was eventually dropped.
  The United States currently spends about $115 million a year on 
global anti-corruption programs. Unfortunately, many of the funds we 
put toward anti-corruption efforts get trapped in multi-year technical 
programs that are unable to respond nimbly to sudden opportunities for 
governance reform. If the United States does intervene, authoritarian 
kleptocrats will gain ground. The United States needs to be proactive 
in developing strategic relationships and agile programs that will keep 
us relevant in moments of historic opportunity.
  Recently, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Senator Roger Wicker 
(R-Miss.), incoming Chair of the U.S. Helsinki Commission and Co-Chair, 
respectively, introduced the Countering Russian and Other Overseas 
Kleptocracy (CROOK) Act to upgrade America's anti-corruption efforts by 
targeting kleptocracy at the source. The CROOK Act would create an 
anticorruption action fund to help activists leverage public sentiment 
to achieve lasting reform, without any additional cost to taxpayers. 
The fund would be financed through a $5 million surcharge on entities 
found liable for $50 million or more in criminal fines and penalties 
under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Based on data from the 
last 10 years, this bill would put an additional $16 million per year 
toward global anti-corruption work. Funds would continue to accrue 
until a historic window of opportunity opens, at which point funds 
would be rapidly deployed to help establish the rule of law.
  Fighting corruption is an imperative for the United States. As a 
beacon of liberty and the rule of law, it is our duty and the purest 
expression of our values. It is also a highly practical form of soft 
power that advances our national security. As Kazakhstan is aspiring to 
be a strategic partner of the United States, I call on my colleagues to 
join me in urging the Biden Administration to review this case of 
kleptocracy and corrupt officials from Kazakhstan and assure that it 
will be included in our Government's discussions regarding this 
important part of the world.

From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]  HON. BENNIE G. THOMPSON of mississippi in the house of representatives

PDF file

Related Posts