Aslan Musin, an elusive kleptocrat from Kazakhstan, provided falsified records to obtain EU citizenship

CIS-based klep­toc­ra­cy has deeply trenched in the very fab­ric of the European soci­ety. While most of the oli­garchs put their invest­ment in Britain and France, some of the most clever one estab­lished their empires on the bor­der­lands of the EU. 

Aslan Musin, one of Kazakhstan’s most elu­sive cor­rupt ex-states­men, put his mon­ey in devel­op­ment projects and com­mer­cial prop­er­ties in Bulgaria and Baltic states. The mon­ey once stolen from Kazakhstan is serv­ing well, as Aslan Musin him­self has been legalised in EU coun­tries using the ‘invest­ment pass­port’ scheme. The prob­lem is that he used extor­tion to prove the legal­i­ty of his income.

Aslan Musins and partners

In March of this year, a scan­dal broke out in Kazakhstan. The elder broth­er of the for­mer head of the Nazarbayev’s admin­is­tra­tion Aslan Musin, Orynbasar, accused a rel­a­tive of raid­ing his com­pa­ny. It was about Ramadan LLP— a mul­ti­dis­ci­pli­nary com­pa­ny asso­ci­at­ed with the pro­duc­tion of food in the Aktobe region. According to Orynbasar, in the mid-noughties, the younger broth­er actu­al­ly forced him to trans­fer half of the com­pa­ny to Asylbek Musin, the son of Aslan Musin. This was done osten­si­bly in order to explain to European super­vi­so­ry agen­cies the ori­gin of the wealth of Aslan Musin’s fam­i­ly mem­bers who con­duct­ed busi­ness in the European Union.

The for­mer pres­i­dent of Kazakhstan N. Nazarbayev (L) and Aslan Musin ®

The Ramadan LLP com­pa­ny was quite suit­able for these pur­pos­es. Annual turnover amount­ed to hun­dreds of mil­lions of tenge. According to the State Revenue Committee, over the past 10 years alone, Ramadan LLP has paid more than 2.4 bil­lion tenge of tax­es to the bud­get. Almost two weeks lat­er, Orynbasar Musin pub­lished a new video in which he renounced his pre­vi­ous words and asked for­give­ness from an influ­en­tial rel­a­tive for accu­sa­tions. It’s obvi­ous that the sec­ond video was made under the pressure.

More on that in this video:

The words of Aslan Musin’s old­er broth­er are more like the truth. Especially in the part that con­cerns the legal­i­sa­tion of funds abroad. Before pro­ceed­ing to our inves­ti­ga­tion, it is worth tak­ing a lit­tle time to give some back­ground infor­ma­tion about Aslan Musin.

Aslan Musin career and the true origins of his wealth

Aslan Musin’s career as a states­man began in the Soviet Union. At the age of 25, he became an instruc­tor, and then head of the depart­ment of the Proletarian dis­trict Committee of the Communist Party in Aktobe. By the time of the col­lapse of the Union, he man­aged to climb to the posi­tion of the sec­re­tary of the region­al par­ty com­mit­tee. From 1995 to 2002, Musin held the seat of gov­er­nor of Aktobe region, then moved to a sim­i­lar posi­tion in the neigh­bour­ing Atyrau region. The high­est point of his career is con­sid­ered to be his work as head of the pres­i­den­tial admin­is­tra­tion from 2008 to 2012. After the bloody Zhanaozen events, the star of pol­i­tics began to fade. First, he was trans­ferred to work in the Accounts Committee, and then he was sent to diplo­mat­ic work in the Balkans, from where he retired three years ago.

Officially, nei­ther Aslan Musin nor his wife Gulbanu have ever owned any busi­ness in Kazakhstan. Basically, his eldest son Asylbek, a rather extra­or­di­nary per­son­al­i­ty, dealt with these issues. Before his mys­te­ri­ous death in Riga, Asylbek Musin was con­sid­ered the leader of the Kazakh Quranites— a reli­gious move­ment that denies some dog­mas of a tra­di­tion­al Islam. In Kazakhstan, they even pub­lished their own news­pa­per “Our World”, which was man­aged through an LLP of the same name, the founder of which was the pub­lic foun­da­tion “Fajr” cre­at­ed by Asylbek Musin with part­ners and asso­ciates — busi­ness­men Yerlan Salmenov, Sergey Kushenov and Gafur Ihsan. At that time, they were con­nect­ed not only by reli­gious beliefs, but also by busi­ness interests.

Who is who in Musin’s clan

After the death of Asylbek, his shares in the busi­ness and part­ner­ships were inher­it­ed by his younger broth­er Sauranbek. For exam­ple, two years ago Sauranbek Musin, togeth­er with Kushenov, Salmenov, for­mer com­mer­cial direc­tor of Ramadan LLP and ex-man­ag­ing direc­tor of the nation­al com­pa­ny Astana EXPO-2017 Anaurbek Musin and Russian Dmitry Metelev opened the Medall aes­thet­ic med­i­cine clin­ic in St. Petersburg. According to the results of last year, the com­pa­ny received a loss of 249 thou­sand rubles. One breast cor­rec­tion costs exact­ly the same amount in their clinic.

Yerlan Salmenov is a per­ma­nent part­ner of the Musin clan in for­eign projects. In par­tic­u­lar, he man­ages the Panama off­shore EdenInternationalTradingInc. This com­pa­ny is one of the affil­i­ates of the Kazakhstan trans­port and logis­tics JSC “Tranko” and is a major share­hold­er of its “daugh­ter” Nomad Cargo. Until 2017, the offi­cial own­er of Tranko was Gafur Ihsan. Three years ago, his com­pa­ny was absorbed by the Dutch Central Asia Capital Investments BV through the pur­chase of sub­sidiaries, the ulti­mate ben­e­fi­cia­ry of which is Vladimir Kim.

Another devot­ed com­pan­ion of the Musins is Sergey (Serik) Kushenov, he was also pre­vi­ous­ly asso­ci­at­ed with the logis­tics busi­ness. Kushenov was a co-own­er of Astana Contract JSC, and also head­ed Paragon Development LLP, which owned con­tain­er and ware­house ter­mi­nals in Almaty. Then the com­pa­nies came under the con­trol of Kazakhstan Kagazy, estab­lished in 2001 by Margulanomi Seisembayev. The val­ue of the trans­ac­tion was then esti­mat­ed at $58 mil­lion, despite the fact that the debts of these com­pa­nies to the State Development Bank of Kazakhstan amount­ed to $96 mil­lion. But Kushenov and his part­ners could not ful­ly receive their mon­ey — Kazakhstan Kagazy almost imme­di­ate­ly after the IPO in London, which allowed to col­lect more than $ 300 mil­lion from investors, default­ed on its bonds. In fact, the largest pro­duc­er of recy­cled paper and pack­ag­ing in Kazakhstan and Central Asia has declared bank­rupt­cy. The new own­ers of Kazakhstan Kagazy accused the for­mer man­age­ment of with­draw­ing $150 mil­lion to for­eign accounts and accounts of unre­lat­ed legal enti­ties. The total dam­age from the actions of Maksat Aripa, who head­ed the com­pa­ny at that time, was esti­mat­ed at $260 mil­lion. In 2018, a British court found Aripa guilty of fraud and decid­ed to com­pen­sate Kazakhstan Kagazy. Last year, his prop­er­ty in the British cap­i­tal was seized.

Musin’s investment in Latvian build-to-let and commercial estate

In 2018, a new non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tion appeared in Latvia — Aslbek Musin garīgā man­to­ju­ma fonds or “Asylbek Musin Spiritual Heritage Foundation”. For the pur­pos­es of the foun­da­tion, the release of sci­en­tif­ic and philo­soph­i­cal films is announced. At least one film has been shot: it opens with a per­son­al appeal by Aslan Musin.

Due to the fact that the Musin fam­i­ly decid­ed to hon­our the deceased in this way, we can judge who Aslan Musin con­sid­ers his clos­est partners.

In the founders of the foun­da­tion, in addi­tion to Musin him­self, there is his youngest son Sauranbek, the already men­tioned Yerlan Salmenov and anoth­er rel­a­tive – Anuarbek Nurbekovich Musin. All three par­tic­i­pants act as own­ers or man­agers of dozens of legal enti­ties in Latvia.

In addi­tion to those list­ed above, it is worth men­tion­ing anoth­er mem­ber of the clan – the nephew of Aslan Imangali Akylbekovich Musin. He is also a found­ing mem­ber of many organizations.

In Latvia, Musins invest in com­mer­cial real estate. The sale of a shop­ping cen­ter owned by one of the clan struc­tures in 2014 was among the top 10 largest deals.

This giant shop­ping cen­tre in Riga was acquired from the Musins by Elcor, one of the largest retail­ers of house­hold appli­ances in Latvia. The trans­ac­tion amount amount­ed to €5.59 mil­lion, while it was only par­tial­ly monetary.

Investigators found out, as a result of the sale of the shop­ping cen­tre, the Musins became the own­ers of the com­pa­ny SIA “BR 19”. This com­pa­ny owned a non-res­i­den­tial prop­er­ty with an area of 672 m² in the very cen­ter of Riga – on Brivibas Boulevard, 19. At the time of the trans­ac­tion, this prop­er­ty was esti­mat­ed at € 2 million.

But not all invest­ments were pay­ing off so quick­ly. In August 2016, the Estonian ASM Invest Alliance OU com­pa­ny (pre­sum­ably also con­trolled by the Musins) made a prop­er­ty con­tri­bu­tion to the prop­er­ty of the Latvian SIA “DSR 19”. Then the com­pa­ny changed nom­i­nal own­ers sev­er­al times, now it is owned by Ainur Kushenova (appar­ent­ly, the wife of the Musins’ part­ner Sergey Kushenov) and the com­pa­ny SIA “Charmap 19”. That, in turn, belongs to the Cyprus off­shore com­pa­ny Fawleron Finance Limited, reg­is­tered to nom­i­nee own­ers. The direc­tor of Chapman 19 is Imangali Musin.

The prop­er­ty deposit worth €1.78 mil­lion is a plot of land in Riga on the banks of the Daugava River. Judging by the Google panora­ma ser­vice, noth­ing has been built there since the purchase.

Another notable com­pa­ny of the Musins is SIA “Diagen Estates”. Unlike oth­er com­pa­nies, it is focused on the con­sumer sec­tor and there­fore con­ducts pub­lic activ­i­ties: it has a web­site, Facebook and Instagram groups. She is engaged in the pur­chase and ren­o­va­tion of apart­ments for rent. With a cap­i­tal of €1.8 mil­lion (data for 2018) she claims to have 65 apartments.

So far, the com­pa­ny gen­er­ates only loss­es and owes investors – per­son­al­ly Yerlan Salmenov, “BR 19” and “Charmap 19” com­pa­nies €1.4 million.

At the time of cre­ation, most of the Musin firms were reg­is­tered at 47 Brivibas Street. Judging by the extracts, there is an apart­ment belong­ing to Gulban Uketaikyzy, the wife of Aslan Musin.

A lit­tle lat­er, the Musins had a large office at Elizabetes 4. There, one of their com­pa­nies imple­ment­ed the Elizabete Garden Residence project. 12 apart­ments from 123 m² (€640 thou­sand) to 204 m² (€1.36 mil­lion) were put up for sale.

Elizabete Garden Residence is an exclu­sive res­i­den­tial build­ing of the late XIX cen­tu­ry, which is locat­ed in the most pres­ti­gious area of Riga – a qui­et cen­tre,” real­tors adver­tised the object.

Another office space that the Musins used as their head­quar­ters is a house in Riga at the address of Nicholas Roerich, 1. A room in a small build­ing at the back of the court­yard behind an alarm gate and its own park­ing is now being sold for €475 thousand.

In many cas­es, mon­ey was “invest­ed” in Latvian com­pa­nies from Cypriot off­shore com­pa­nies, they also act­ed as nom­i­nal own­ers of cer­tain Musin com­pa­nies for some time. But there is one exception.

The com­pa­ny “KSG Group” is 100% owned by Kazakhstan TOO “Smart Gate Group”. This firm with a cap­i­tal of €9 mil­lion does busi­ness not only in Latvia, but also in Bulgaria. Now its direc­tor is Anuarbek Musin, pre­vi­ous­ly this post was held by Sergey Kushenov.

Aslan Musin’s Bulgarian business and projects

At the begin­ning of 2014, a major event took place in the Sofia real estate mar­ket. About 25 hectares of pre­vi­ous­ly emp­ty land in an active­ly devel­op­ing area of the Bulgarian cap­i­tal have final­ly found their new own­ers. And after they announced plans for the devel­op­ment of this ter­ri­to­ry, the Bulgarian media called the deal and future projects the largest on the mar­ket after the 2008 cri­sis. The total cost of the invest­ment in the devel­op­ment is now esti­mat­ed at more than €200 million.

The sec­ond plot with a total area of almost six hectares, the Aslan Musin and his part­ners decid­ed to devel­op grad­u­al­ly. The deal on it fol­lowed approx­i­mate­ly the same pat­tern as with the first site. From the Jersey fund, he trans­ferred in ear­ly 2014 to the bal­ance sheet of Sofia Park Villas, the ulti­mate con­trol­ling par­ty of which at that time was the Garage Investment Management of Anatas Garov. He, in turn, trans­ferred con­trol of Sofia Park to the afore­men­tioned KSG Group, the Latvian com­pa­ny of the Musins.

Further, KSG Group dis­trib­uted a stake in Sofia Park between Monoteo Capital Management (64%), Alatau trade group (12%), Erlan Salmenov’s com­pa­ny Abecebuild (12%), Garitage Investment Management (6%) and 3 D Retail Management (6%). The same con­fig­u­ra­tion is main­tained now, with the only dif­fer­ence that the share of Monoteo Capital was trans­ferred to the bal­ance of Falcon Solutions by the youngest of Musin’s sons. The company’s share cap­i­tal has also not changed over the years and amounts to €30 thou­sand. The amount that the con­struc­tion of the epony­mous cot­tage vil­lage Sofia Park Villas for 34 hous­es cost them is not indi­cat­ed in the company’s reports. As of December 31 last year, its book val­ue was approx­i­mate­ly €2.5 million.

In 2016, the com­pa­ny report­ed that it had man­aged to sell 31 cot­tages under con­struc­tion. The over­all devel­op­ment plan involves the con­struc­tion of 56 hous­es on plots from 4 to 9 acres. The imple­men­ta­tion of the sec­ond stage is sched­uled for 2023. The total invest­ment in the cot­tage project can be esti­mat­ed at €20 — 25 million.

Obviously, such seri­ous invest­ments can­not be left unat­tend­ed. Investigators have already revealed that the Musin clan is look­ing for an oppor­tu­ni­ty to obtain a sec­ond cit­i­zen­ship. They tried in Guatemala, but noth­ing came of it — they became a vic­tim of an inter­nal polit­i­cal scan­dal and found them­selves involved in a crim­i­nal case. This time they decid­ed to act legally.

Bulgaria is prob­a­bly one of the few coun­tries of the European Union whose cit­i­zen­ship is quite easy to obtain by spend­ing rel­a­tive­ly lit­tle mon­ey on this pro­ce­dure. You don’t even need to learn Bulgarian to do this. It is enough to invest about € 0.5 mil­lion in gov­ern­ment secu­ri­ties, and in five years you can get a Bulgarian pass­port. If this amount is dou­bled, then such an investor becomes a cit­i­zen of Bulgaria in two years, and if a num­ber of for­mal con­di­tions are met, this peri­od can be reduced to 6 months altogether.

In December 2015, Gulbanu Uketaikyzy, Sauranbek Musin, Asem Musina, Yerlan Salmenov, Ainur Kushenova (appar­ent­ly the wife of Sergey Kushenov) and Aizhan Botagarieva cre­at­ed six num­bered sole pro­pri­etors (SPV‑1,2,3,4,5,6) with a cap­i­tal of €0.5 mil­lion to €1 mil­lion. All these com­pa­nies are reg­is­tered in one apart­ment in house No. 104 of the Sofia Park res­i­den­tial com­plex adja­cent to the Garage Park.

Obviously, this was done for one pur­pose — to obtain Bulgarian cit­i­zen­ship. And they suc­ceed­ed. In any case, the names of Gulbanu Uketaikyzy, Sauranbek Musin, Asem Musina and Erlan Salmenov are on the vot­er lists (down­load file) from the Simeonovo quar­ter (Vitosha dis­trict) in the elec­tions to the European Parliament, which took place in May last year.]]]

Sauranbek Musin’s Bulgarian cit­i­zen­ship is also indi­cat­ed in the lat­est doc­u­ments of his company.

Apparently, the head of the clan Aslan Musin did not apply for Bulgarian cit­i­zen­ship or is still in the process of obtain­ing it. According to the prop­er­ty reg­is­ter of Bulgaria, none of these per­sons in this coun­try has any real estate listed.

The only mem­ber of the clan who, appar­ent­ly, decid­ed to real­ly take root in Bulgaria is Sergey Kushenov’s moth­er Rosa. She not only bought her­self an apart­ment in the Kaliakria Resort apart­ment hotel on the Black Sea coast, but also togeth­er with Anatas Garov is try­ing to devel­op a fish farm­ing busi­ness. They own the com­pa­ny Ribenata Ferma AD (trans­lat­ed from Bulgarian as “fish farm”) on a par­i­ty basis, the head­quar­ters of which is locat­ed in one of the office build­ings in the Garage Park. This firm was also pre­vi­ous­ly owned by the Jersey Foundation and was bought out of it in 2014.

As fol­lows from the audit reports, the com­pa­ny even applied for a state pro­gram to sup­port fish­ing and fish farm­ing. Apparently, she is still engaged in the same real estate and is not very suc­cess­ful yet — as of December 31 last year, the accu­mu­lat­ed loss of Ribenata Ferma reached almost €15 mil­lion. With an invest­ment of €13.5 mil­lion, only €0.5 mil­lion was spent on fish­ing equip­ment. The rest of the mon­ey went to the pur­chase of land plots. One of them with an area of 12.5 hectares is locat­ed in the Samokov com­mu­ni­ty of the Sofia region and cost the “fish farm­ers” € 4 million.

Original source of arti­cle: www.talk-finance.co.uk

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