A Most Unwanted Man: Mukhtar Ablyazov ’s Extradition takes one more step forward Reviewed by Momizat on . [caption id="attachment_5540" align="alignnone" width="615"] The French Supreme Court upheld the earlier ruling on March 4, 2015 by the Court of Lyon to extradi [caption id="attachment_5540" align="alignnone" width="615"] The French Supreme Court upheld the earlier ruling on March 4, 2015 by the Court of Lyon to extradi Rating: 0

A Most Unwanted Man: Mukhtar Ablyazov ’s Extradition takes one more step forward

The French Supreme Court upheld the earlier ruling on March 4, 2015 by the Court of Lyon to extradite Mukhtar Ablyazov to Russia or Ukraine. The French premier himself issued a decree formalising his extradition in October 2015, which brings his fugitive status one step closer to a conclusion.

The French Supreme Court upheld the earlier ruling on March 4, 2015 by the Court of Lyon to extradite Mukhtar Ablyazov to Russia or Ukraine. The French premier himself issued a decree formalising his extradition in October 2015, which brings his fugitive status one step closer to a conclusion.

Major Kazakhstani bank, BTA has lauded an October 12, 2015 decision by the French government to push for the extradition of Mukhtar Ablyazov, who is accused of defrauding that bank to the tune of GBP 3 bln, to Russia, according to a Bank BTA press release.

Mukhtar fled Kazakhstan to Britain in 2009 after the bank he chaired, BTA, defaulted on GBP 8 bln of debt owed to majority-state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Barclays and others. Mukhtar was accused of embezzling through a network of offshore entities over GBP 3 bln from BTA which was the subject of a bailout and subsequent takeover by the country`s sovereign wealth fund. This ranks among one of the largest cases of bank fraud ever conducted.

There then ensued a long legal odyssey as Kazakh authorities at first pursued Mukhtar and his cohorts through multiple court cases in the UK. BTA has won judgments against Mukhtar from the English High Court worth over USD 4 bln as part of its asset recovery process.

In February 2012, a high court judge in London sentenced Mukhtar to 22 months in jail for “serious” and “brazen” contempt of court in trying to hide more than GBP 34 mln of assets from BTA`s creditors. An arrest warrant for him was issued but Mukhtar had already left the country.

Private investigators were to later trail his attractive, blonde haired Ukrainian female lawyer from the centre of London to Nice airport and then to Mukhtar himself in his six-bedroom villa near Cannes. He was arrested by the French police on July 31, 2013.

He has been refused bail by the French courts three times on the basis that he was likely to flee France if released on bail.

A British judge ruled on November 26, 2013 that  Muktar had misappropriated a further USD 300 mln in AAA-rated investment bonds from the BTA in 2008 through the use of several entities registered in the British Virgin Isles. In assessing the case, the Judge concluded that Mukhtar’s defence to BTA’s claims was variously “implausible, untenable and frankly incredible”.

 The Court in Aix-en-Provence granted on January 9, 2014 both the Russian and Ukrainian requests to extradite Mr Ablyazov. However, the decision was annulled by the Court of Appeal in April because of a procedural error made by the court. The case was then sent for re-trial in the Court of Lyon.

The Court of Lyon granted both Russia and Ukraine’s requests on October 24, 2014 to extradite Mr Ablyazov. Mr Ablyazov once again appealed the decision.

The French Supreme Court upheld the earlier ruling on March 4, 2015 by the Court of Lyon to extradite him to Russia or Ukraine.

The French premier himself issued a decree formalizing his extradition in October 2015, which brings his fugitive status one step closer to a conclusion. We shall see if this is the end or further legal avenues are explored by Mukhtar`s legal team. Of interest will be the choice of country to which he is finally extradited.

Given widespread concerns over Russia`s legal and penal system, it may well be that Ukraine could yet be the safer option for Mukhtar rather than enduring the tender mercies of the Russian or Kazakh authorities.

If Ukraine it is, then Mukhtar might yet be reunited with  his former Ukrainian lawyer, Olena Tyshchenko, who in July 2015 was appointed by the Ukrainian Interior Ministry  to be in charge of recovering stolen assets on behalf of the country`s Anti-Corruption Bureau. She herself was detained by the Russian authorities in the fall of 2013 on suspicion of large-scale fraud and the laundering of more than USD 3.3 bln in illegally obtained funds taken from BTA. They may have a lot to discuss.

Photo courtesy of Baysakhal (Wikimedia Commons).

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