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Ex-president Nazarbayev's grandson Aliyev Junior forges stature as future magnate

Modelling him­self on both ex-Kazakh pres­i­dent Nursultan Nazarbayev and his father, the for­mer spy­mas­ter turned oppo­nent Rakhat Aliyev, ris­ing busi­ness mogul Nurali Aliyev has spun an impres­sive net­work over the course of his polit­i­cal and finan­cial career, rang­ing from Nursultan to London, and from Elon Musk to the Al-Nahyans.

In the build-up to the 30th anniver­sary of Kazakhstan’s inde­pen­dence, cel­e­brat­ed with great fan­fare on 16 December, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev hand­ed out awards and dis­tinc­tions to sev­er­al promi­nent Kazakhs close to his pre­de­ces­sor Nursultan Nazarbayev, includ­ing the latter’s eldest daugh­ter, MP Dariga Nazarbayeva. Even though the for­mer pres­i­dent retired in March 2019, his shad­ow weighs on the new lead­er­ship due to the influ­ence of the new gen­er­a­tion of Nazarbayevs, embod­ied in the ex-president’s grand­son Nurali Aliyev.

Nurali Rakhatovich Aliev is a Kazakh busi­ness­man, econ­o­mist, senior first pres­i­dent of Kazakhstan Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbayev.

Partnership with Elon Musk

Aliyev, 36, is the eldest son of Dariga Nazarbayeva and the for­mer deputy head of Kazakhstan’s intel­li­gence ser­vice, the National Security Committee (KNB), Rakhat Aliyev. He draws on this her­itage to present him­self as a cham­pi­on of Kazakh indus­try, espe­cial­ly of new tech­nolo­gies. Owner of IT ser­vice provider Darmen head­ed by Eldar Gumarov, Aliyav forged a part­ner­ship with US start­up investor Plug and Play in 2019. 

This paved the way for the sig­na­ture in October of a mem­o­ran­dum of under­stand­ing between Kazakh tele­coms oper­a­tor Transtelecom — in which Aliyev acquired a 75% stake in February when the group was pri­va­tised through the com­pa­ny Unit Telecom — and Plug and Play as part of Elon Musk’s Starlink satel­lite inter­net project. 

This part­ner­ship is backed by the Kazakh equiv­a­lent of the US incu­ba­tor, Astana Hub, head­ed by Magzhan Madiyev and backed by Yerlan Minavar, now inno­va­tion direc­tor at Transtelecom after a spell as an advis­er to the CEO of Plug and Play.
On social media, Nurali Aliyev often writes about his con­tacts in the sec­tor men­tion­ing for exam­ple Dmitry Samartsev, CEO of BI.ZONE — a com­pa­ny spe­cial­is­ing in dig­i­tal risk analy­sis — and his friend­ship with Chinese busi­ness­man Jack Ma, founder of e‑commerce giant Alibaba.

Emirati investments

On top of these well-heeled con­nec­tions, Nurali Aliyev devel­oped promis­ing links with the Emirates when he was deputy may­or of the city of Astana, since renamed Nursultan, from December 2014 to March 2016. During his tenure, he was respon­si­ble for pro­mot­ing for­eign direct invest­ment in Kazakhstan with the UAE roy­al family. 

He met Sheikh Suroor Bin Mohammad Al Nahyan dur­ing a vis­it to Abu Dhabi in February 2016. This coop­er­a­tion may have proved use­ful for his com­pa­ny Capital Holding which was cre­at­ed in 2006 and which may be used for invest­ments in Emirati prop­er­ties and resorts.

A wealth of collaborations

Through Capital Holding, Nurali Aliyev has been able to con­sol­i­date his empire in his country’s telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions sec­tor while at the same time indulging his pas­sion for box­ing. Capital Holding spon­sors Kazakh box­er Gennady Golovkin. Until March 2017, the group list­ed sev­er­al Kazakh part­ners on its web­site, all of them linked to the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions sec­tor: fibre optic spe­cial­ist VT Services, which works in the coun­try with Cisco, Hewlett Packard and Ericsson, data cen­tre provider Archkon, and IT sys­tems inte­gra­tor Nortex, which works with US firm Cisco in Kazakhstan, Juniper Networks and Extreme Networks. VT, Archkon and Nortex all have Transtelecom as a client.

From Kazakh sugar to London villas

Nurali Aliyev start­ed out in Kazakhstan’s sug­ar mar­ket. He man­aged to keep his father’s lega­cy alive even after Rakhat fell from grace in 2007. That same year, Nurali became deputy chair­man of the board of Kazakh bank Nurbank and held that role until 2010. In February 2015, Rakhat was found dead in a prison in Vienna (IO, 13/05/15), after being accused of kid­nap­ping and mur­der­ing two of the bank’s managers. 

Aliyev Junior came under the spot­light in the British press fol­low­ing rev­e­la­tions by the so-called “Panama Papers” leak and sub­se­quent inves­ti­ga­tion by the National Crime Agency (NCA, IO, 22/02/17). His name has been linked to sev­er­al London prop­er­ties man­aged by the com­pa­ny Greatex, as well as to two com­pa­nies reg­is­tered in the British Virgin Islands: Alba International Holdings and Invigorate Group Limited. Nurali Aliyev was assist­ed in the man­age­ment of these com­pa­nies by Kazakhs Askar Tarabayev, chair­man of Alba when it was estab­lished in 2014, and Mukhamed Ali Kurmanbayev, direc­tor of Greatex between 2008 and 2014.

Residing in Dubai and London respec­tive­ly, Tarabayev and Kurmanbayev briefly ran the British pri­vate jet com­pa­ny Finesse Executive Limited in 2013. Following the inves­ti­ga­tion, the NCA issued unex­plained wealth orders on Nurali Aliyev’s British prop­er­ties. At the time, Aliyev used the ser­vices of lawyers Alison Pople and Aaron Watkins, affil­i­at­ed to the London law firm Mishcon de Reya (IO, 25/11/20) to defend him. The accu­sa­tions were reject­ed in April 2020. The rul­ing does, how­ev­er, pro­vide a glimpse into the off­shore struc­ture of Nurali Aliyev’s real estate hold­ings, which are owned by the Curacao-reg­is­tered Manrick Private Foundation and the Anguilla-based Alderton Investments.

Generation clash

Nurali Aliyev’s polit­i­cal and finan­cial envi­ron­ment in Kazakhstan is very much a fam­i­ly affair, in which one of the most influ­en­tial mem­bers remains his uncle Timur Kulibayev, the new hus­band of Dinara Nazarbayeva and head of Kazenergy, the Kazakh ener­gy con­glom­er­ate (read our Insiders).

Original source of arti­cle: https:

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