A civil court in England has amassed $ 5 billion in assets in half a dozen countries as part of an international legal saga in which Kazakhstan’s richest businessmen defend themselves against theft charges and State-owned BTAs are laundering $ 6 billion in money for the bank. Assets frozen include cash in bank accounts, bets in luxury hotels, and the Burger King franchise. The assets were frozen by the Trade and Property Courts of England and Wales at the request of the BTA Bank. The bank has been alleging for years that its former chairman had stolen more than $ 6 billion and looted that money through shell companies. The defendants maintain their innocence and claim that the BTA is on a witch hunt instigated by a political vendetta in the former Soviet state. The BTA alleges that the stolen money is in bank accounts and properties around the world, including a shopping mall in Cincinnati.
In 2012, a UK court ruled in favor of BTA and issued a $ 4.9 billion civil judgment, with former chairman Mukhtar Ablyazov and his son-in-law Ilyas Khurpunov. Ablazov took control of BTA in 2004. After the bank was taken over by the Kazakh government, it was alleged that he and those associated with him used a series of fake loans to steal billions. Khurpunov is accused of plundering money for Ablizov. Ablizov and Kharapunov denied all charges against him.
The BTA alleged that the financier, a former advisor to the Kazakhstan government, and a board member of the International Tennis Federation, Bulat Uteemurutov, along with 11 others, worked to hide the money stolen from the bank. Utemurtov denied the allegations and said the claim was based on false documents given to the bank. The asset freezing order includes bank accounts of companies with stakes at UBS, Credit Suisse, EFG International and DBS Group Holdings, as well as Moscow, Vienna, and the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. The Burger King franchise in Kazakhstan, which is owned by Utmurtov, is also included. The focus is on Utmurtov, a high-profile businessman in Kazakhstan, the latest twist in the case. He has total assets of $ 2.2 billion and has been an ally of Nur Sultan Nazarbayev, former President of Kazakhstan.