Alleged money launderer Bota Jardemalie and her "interesting" lawyers

Posted on Dec 05, 2019

On October 1st of this year, the Brussels home of Botagaz (known as ‘Bota’) Jardemalie, want­ed in her home coun­try of Kazakhstan for ques­tion­ing over her com­plic­i­ty in the ’embez­zle­ment’ of up to $7.6 bil­lion from the BTA Bank, a crime per­pe­trat­ed by the con­vict­ed mur­der­er Mukhtar Ablyazov, once described in the British press as “the World’s rich­est fraud­ster” was raid­ed by Belgian police offi­cers in the pres­ence of Kazakh investigators.

This was in full accor­dance with EU and UN pro­to­cols on fight­ing fraud and cor­rup­tion, as con­firmed by Minister of Justice Koen Geens.

Ms. Jardemalie is report­ed to reside in Belgium with the sta­tus of a “per­se­cut­ed”polit­i­cal refugee — a so-called ‘oppo­si­tion­ist’ to the Kazakh government. 

However, her asso­ci­a­tions with what might be described as being noth­ing less than an organ­ised inter­na­tion­al crime syn­di­cate, oper­at­ing not only in Europe, but with­in the EU insti­tu­tions them­selves, have cast seri­ous doubts not only on her offi­cial sta­tus, but upon those who pro­fess to be the defend­ers of her “human rights”. 

A pre­lim­i­nary inves­ti­ga­tion by the Economic Crime Department, it has been report­ed, revealed that she “has a pros­per­ous lifestyle, does not pay tax­es in Belgium and doesn’t show her income.”

On her arrival in Belgium Ms. Jardemalie appears to have estab­lished what might be called a “work­ing rela­tion­ship” with the Belgian law firm Ruchat Lexial, found­ed by Emmanuel Ruchat, a well-con­nect­ed expert in immi­gra­tion issues, crim­i­nal and polit­i­cal law. 

One might assume that this rela­tion­ship could have been ben­e­fi­cial to Jardemalie not only in her need for asy­lum, but also in her alleged busi­ness activities.

In February 2016, a com­pa­ny that she appears to have her­self found­ed was co-inci­den­tal­ly sold to Ruchat Lexial, with Jardemalie being appoint­ed to the posi­tion of man­ag­ing director. 

In September of the same year she resigned from her posi­tion and short­ly there­after the com­pa­ny was sold to two Lebanese busi­ness­men, Fadi Abdul Had and Mazen Hawwa, both orig­i­nal­ly hail­ing from Beirut but giv­ing address­es in Kuwait.

EU Today’s inves­ti­ga­tions have failed to uncov­er any con­crete infor­ma­tion con­cern­ing the two Lebanese gentlemen.

In 2017 it was report­ed that the Belgian judi­cia­ry was con­duct­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion against Ms. Jardemalie over alle­ga­tions of laun­der­ing some $100 mil­lion in that coun­try. It not sug­gest­ed that the inves­ti­ga­tions relate to the afore­men­tioned transaction.

Following the recent raid on Ms. Jardemalie’s Brussels home, in the up-mar­ket neigh­bour­hood of Uccle, dur­ing which an EU Today source, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty, said that items of ‘inter­est’ were found, she is report­ed to have engaged the ser­vices of anoth­er Belgian lawyer, one Christophe Marchand.

Marchand has pre­vi­ous­ly rep­re­sent­ed in court such high pro­file clients as Edward Snowden, accused by the U.S. gov­ern­ment of espi­onage, and Julian Assange, accused of sex­u­al offences, as well as con­tro­ver­sial Catalonian sep­a­ratists, includ­ing Adrià Carrasco, who in April of 2018 was accused of ter­ror­ism and rebel­lion, and of  “lead­ing and coor­di­nat­ing acts of sab­o­tage” with the aim of “mov­ing the Catalan con­flict to the streets with vio­lent actions”.

Marchand was also the defence lawyer of Hicham Beyayo, one of a num­ber of rad­i­calised Belgian Muslims impli­cat­ed in an attempt­ed ter­ror­ist attack in Brussels in 2008 pri­or to an EU summit. 

Marchand said that his client, whose broth­ers have served time in prison for rob­bery and arms traf­fick­ing, had been approached in a mosque near his home in Anderlecht, in ‘an attempt to trav­el to Afghanistan to fight against Americans to restore the Taliban to pow­er’.

He said, seem­ing­ly in defence of his client, “He is the intel­lec­tu­al of the fam­i­ly,… He bears no ill will against Belgium. He went to Afghanistan to join an Islamic resis­tance movement.”

Marchand also rep­re­sent­ed the Moroccan born Youness Loukili, anoth­er ter­ror sus­pect, who had fought in Iraq, and who was one of the main sus­pects in a high pro­file ter­ror­ism tri­al in Brussels.

In his defence of Loukili, Marchand stat­ed that  he and his fel­low insur­gents were “sol­diers fight­ing a legit­i­mate war against an occu­py­ing force.”  

The lawyer fur­ther stat­ed that the rules of crim­i­nal law were not applic­a­ble in their case, although rather embar­rass­ing­ly, and one sus­pects to the amuse­ment of the court, his own client under­mined this argu­ment by stat­ing that he had nev­er in fact fought in Iraq.

However, whilst he denied in court such activ­i­ties, Loukili was sub­se­quent­ly report­ed to have fought along­side the noto­ri­ous ter­ror­ist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, him­self respon­si­ble for numer­ous bomb­ings and beheadings. 

Marchand, an advi­so­ry board mem­ber of the NGO Fair Trials is described on the web­site of the organ­i­sa­tion as hav­ing expe­ri­ence of deal­ing with ‘com­plex and inter­na­tion­al cas­es includ­ing mon­ey laun­der­ing’ and ‘mur­der…’

One might imag­ine that Monsieur Marchand, albeit a respect­ed fig­ure in the Belgian legal com­mu­ni­ty, might fit per­fect­ly into the ongo­ing saga that is the tale of the fugi­tive oli­garch Mukhtar Ablyazov.

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright, EU Today.