Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Living in Fear in London: The Exiled Banker Accused of $2 Billion Fraud

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Living in Fear in London: The Exiled Banker Accused of $2 Billion Fraud

Article excerpt

Byline: Paul Cheston Courts Correspondent

AN EXILED multi-millionaire is accused in the High Court of being one of the world's biggest fraudsters, in a recordbreaking $2 billion case.

Kazakhstan banker Mukhtar Ablyazov fled to London with his family and says he is in fear of his life from his country's secret police, the KNB.

He is being sued by the company he used to run, but claims he is innocent and the victim of persecution by Kazakhstan's dictatorial president.

Lawyers for the BTA bank say losses run up while Mr Ablyazov was chairman total nearly $12 billion ([pounds sterling]7.7 billion). They allege a vast chunk of bank cash reserves were diverted to companies he secretly owned.

Six legal actions against him are being heard by Mr Justice Teare in the High Court, and may not finish until 2012. The judge has frozen his assets and ordered him to disclose details of his wealth to BTA's London lawyers. He has also had to surrender his passport.

Mr Abklyazov is defending all the actions against him and insists they are politically motivated. Should the civil actions succeed he will not be a convicted criminal -- but the claim he is contesting is that he is responsible for one of the biggest frauds in the world.

Taxpayer-owned Royal Bank of Scotland is among the Western institutions forced to write off billions of dollars invested in BTA. If Mr Ablyazov loses and has to hand over the money, RBS and other creditors will share 50 per cent of the clawback.

The 47-year-old arrived in Britain in February last year and has applied for asylum. He lives behind heavy security in north London with his wife and three children aged between three and 18. A fourth child is married and living in Switzerland.

He says he is being targeted by Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president of the former Soviet Union republic who has been accused of destroying political opposition and turning his country into an authoritarian state.

Mr Ablyazov co-founded Kazakhstan's main opposition party, the DCK. He was jailed in 2002 for alleged abuse of office while he was energy minister, but released the next year after intervention from Amnesty International. …

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