Fugitive Kazakh banker Mukhtar Ablyazov appeals seizure of his assets in Russia
MOSCOW, February 3 (RAPSI) - Former head of BTA Bank Mukhtar Ablyazov detained in France has filed an appeal with the Moscow City Court challenging seizure of his assets in Russia, the court’s press office told RAPSI on Tuesday.
The appeal against Moscow’s Tverskoy District Court’s ruling to seize the banker’s property will be considered on February 9.
Ablyazov fled to the UK after the Kazakh government acquired a stake in BTA in 2009 and the bank came under the control of its sovereign wealth fund, Samruk-Kazyna. Kazakhstan claims that Ablyazov embezzled over $6 billion. He was granted political asylum in Britain in 2011.
Ablyazov is also wanted in Russia for the alleged embezzlement of about $5 billion and in Ukraine, where he allegedly embezzled $400 million via illegal transactions.
The ex-banker was placed on Interpol’s wanted list and detained in July 2013 near Cannes, France. Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine are all seeking the extradition of the fugitive banker. In early January 2014, a court in France's Aix-en-Provence ruled to extradite him to Russia or Ukraine, with priority given to Russia.
On April 9, 2014, the criminal chamber of Paris’s Cour de Cassation, the court of final appeal for civil and criminal cases in France, ruled to block Ablyazov’s extradition because of an administrative error by the court. Specifically, the ex-banker had not signed the official protocol as required.
The cassation court ordered the case to be heard again, assigning it to a court in Lyon. On October 24, the court ruled to extradite Ablyazov to Russia.
Ablyazov has denied all charges. His lawyers say he is being persecuted for political reasons.
However, several defendants in the BTA Bank embezzlement case have been already convicted in Moscow. In October, nationalist Alexander Belov (Potkin) involved in the case was arrested at Hotel Intourist Kolomenskoe in Moscow. The court initially placed Belov under house arrest, but later sent him in pre-trial detention. He stands accused of laundering money embezzled from BTA Bank.