Kazakhstan: Nazarbayev family’s luxury UK assets come to light

The ex-pres­i­den­t’s daugh­ter and grand­son hold $103 mil­lion in real estate assets in London.

The vast rich­es accrued by Kazakhstan’s rul­ing Nazarbayev fam­i­ly is com­ing under an awk­ward lev­el of scruti­ny in British courts fol­low­ing an Unexplained Wealth Order imposed last year.

The pro­ceed­ings, report­ed by the BBC on March 10, revealed that assets owned by Dariga Nazarbayeva, the speak­er of the Senate and the president’s daugh­ter, and her son, Nurali Aliyev, include two man­sions and lux­u­ry apart­ment – the lat­ter includ­ing an under­ground pool and a cin­e­ma – worth a total of £80 mil­lion ($103 mil­lion). One man­sion, sit­u­at­ed on London’s Bishop Avenue, which is pop­u­lar­ly known as “Billionaires’ Row,” fea­tures 10 bed­rooms, an under­ground pool and a cin­e­ma, the BBC reported.

As has now emerged, items of real estate owned by the Nazarbayevs through off­shore com­pa­nies – based in Panama, Anguilla and Curacao – were last May made sub­ject to leg­is­la­tion enact­ed in 2018 that requires ben­e­fi­cia­ries of large funds to explain the ori­gin of their wealth or risk hav­ing their assets seized. The National Crime Agency, or NCA, sus­pects that all three dwellings owned by the Nazarbayevs were pur­chased with funds acquired through the cor­rupt acts of Rakhat Aliyev, the late hus­band of Nazarbayeva and Nurali Aliyev’s father.

Aliyev, the for­mer son-in-law of President Nursultan Nazarbayev fell out of favor in dra­mat­ic fash­ion in 2007. He left the coun­try and lived var­i­ous­ly in Austria and Malta. In 2014, he was jailed in Austria pend­ing extra­di­tion pro­ceed­ings as Kazakhstan sought his repa­tri­a­tion to face mur­der and kid­nap­ping charges. In 2015, before that legal process could play out, how­ev­er, Aliyev was found dead in his cell. Authorities con­clud­ed that he had com­mit­ted sui­cide by hang­ing himself.

Nazarbayeva has report­ed­ly denied that her for­mer hus­band had any involve­ment with the acqui­si­tion of the real estate. In a state­ment sent to Eurasianet, Nazarbayeva’s spokesper­son said “she has fur­nished the NCA with all the infor­ma­tion it need­ed to con­clude she has not been involved in any wrong­do­ing and there was no mer­it to their case.”

A lawyer for Nurali Aliyev, mean­while, has said that they are assist­ing “the NCA by pro­vid­ing them with rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion in rela­tion to this case.”

He is now chal­leng­ing the NCA’s approach and will robust­ly defend the pro­ceed­ings. He is look­ing for­ward to this mat­ter being con­clud­ed swift­ly in court,” the lawyers said in a state­ment pro­vid­ed to Eurasianet.

The extend­ed Nazarbayev fam­i­ly has been strug­gling to keep its name out of the inter­na­tion­al tabloid press.

In late 2018, it was anoth­er Nazarbayeva and Aliyev’s sons, Aisultan Nazarbayev, who got the atten­tion. After a year­long dis­ap­pear­ance, pre­sumed to have coin­cid­ed with a stint in a drug rehab clin­ic in England, he resur­faced to leave cryp­tic remarks on Facebook about hav­ing been freed from cap­tiv­i­ty by Russian law enforce­ment authorities.

Earlier this year, he pro­voked anoth­er swell of chat­ter with even more eccen­tric claims on his Facebook page, includ­ing that he had not been fathered by Rakhat Aliyev, but instead by his own grand­fa­ther. In lat­er mes­sages, he made alle­ga­tions of cor­rup­tion against top offi­cials close to the for­mer president.

In light of Aisultan Nazarbayev’s his­to­ry of drug abuse and errat­ic behav­ior, how­ev­er, the claims have been treat­ed with skep­ti­cism. One excep­tion has been the exiled regime foe Mukhtar Ablyazov, whom Information Minister Dauren Abayev implied might have played a direct role in cook­ing up the alle­ga­tions in the first place.

Senior Kazakh offi­cials have devel­oped a well-doc­u­ment­ed taste for expen­sive for­eign real estate.

In the fall of 2017, Belgian high-end real­tor Ignace Meuwissen let slip in an inter­view that one of his clients, an offi­cial in the gov­ern­ment of Kazakhstan, had pur­chased apart­ments in the cen­ter of Paris for 65 mil­lion euros ($76.5 mil­lion at the time).

This rev­e­la­tion caused a minor sen­sa­tion back home, prompt­ing many to won­der how offi­cials were able to accu­mu­late such obscene wealth while the gov­ern­ment often strug­gles to pro­vide basic ser­vice in key areas like health­care provision.

Meuwissen’s remarks also set off a guess­ing game, since he demurred when asked to divulge the name of the own­er of the lux­u­ry apart­ment. Many spec­u­lat­ed that a like­ly can­di­date was anoth­er pres­i­den­tial son-in-law, Timur Kulibayev, who is known to be one of Kazakhstan’s rich­est men.

In the sum­mer of 2018, though, the Finance Ministry said it had found fol­low­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion that the own­er of the apart­ment was not in fact a gov­ern­ment offi­cial, that he had paid all tax­es due for the trans­ac­tion and that he was there­fore act­ing with­in the law. And that, there­fore, it was implied, nosey mem­bers of the pub­lic need not con­tin­ue ask­ing questions.

British courts, it seems, take anoth­er view on the mat­ter of unex­plained and inex­plic­a­ble wealth.

This arti­cle was updat­ed to include state­ments from lawyers rep­re­sent­ing Aliyev and Nazarbayeva and to cor­rect minor mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tions about pro­ceed­ings in the London High Court.

Orifginal source: EURASIANET