LONDON/MOSCOW, February 17 - RAPSI. The High Court of Justice in London sentenced former BTA Bank head Mukhtar Ablyazov to 22 months in jail for contempt of court, Judge Nigel Teare said.

The court convicted Ablyazov and ruled to take him into custody on Thursday, but the term was announced later.

Ablyazov did not attend the hearing when judge pronounced the sentence to him. However, there is no any credible information that he might be fleeing.

The High Court heard BTA Bank's lawsuit against the Kazakh oligarch in November-December 2011. The bank sought to imprison Ablyazov for contempt of court. The plaintiff maintained that Ablyazov lied the court in a deliberate and substantial way about his ownership of companies and property, and continued to manage his assets in breach of a freezing order.

The hearing was held as part of the current proceedings initiated by BTA in order to regain the assets and offset losses inflicted by bank's former head Ablyazov.

The case is heard in London because Ablyazov has fled from Kazakhstan and currently lives in the UK.

National Bank of Kazakhstan chief Grigory Marchenko told PRIME business news agency that as it was crucial for BTA to regain the lost assets the bank decided to file a civil suit against Ablyazov.

"However it turned out during the trial that Ablyazov lied to the court and concealed his assets. In this regard Ablyazov was charged with contempt of court and eventually sentenced to 22 months in prison while the British law carries the maximum possible sentence of 24 months for this offence," said Marchenko commenting on the judgment.

The judge refused to release Ablyazov on bail, but he may now appeal the judgment.

Marchenko also said that BTA may initiate another case against its former president to recover assets after the civil case is over.