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Fugitive Banker Ablyazov Must Remain in Custody - BTA Bank

© Sputnik / Vladimir Tretiakov / Go to the photo bankMukhtar Ablyazov
Mukhtar Ablyazov - Sputnik International
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Mukhtar Ablyazov, a former banker from Kazakhstan detained in France earlier in the week, must remain in custody to prevent the loss of financial means that he is accused of embezzling, BTA bank said in a statement.

LONDON, August 2 (RIA Novosti) - Mukhtar Ablyazov, a former banker from Kazakhstan detained in France earlier in the week, must remain in custody to prevent the loss of financial means that he is accused of embezzling, BTA bank said in a statement.

Ablyazov, accused of embezzling billions of dollars from his now-defunct BTA bank, was detained near the French seaside resort of Cannes on Wednesday.

“The bank wants him [Ablyazov] to remain in custody in order to prevent dispersion of [embezzled] assets and avert banker’s attempts to flee,” the bank said in a statement.

According to the statement, Ablyazov’s arrest in France became possible after the bank tracked him down and passed on information about his whereabouts to French law enforcers.

Agence France-Presse cited Ablyazov’s lawyer Bruno Rebstock as saying that the oligarch was “in fighting mode and determined,” adding that the defense would seek his release from custody and submit the necessary documents in the next few days.

Ablyazov was caught Wednesday afternoon in the village of Mouans-Sartoux, 8 kilometers (5 miles) from Cannes, where he rented a villa. The raid on the villa involved 15 police officers, including from a special police task force detachment, and a helicopter.

Three countries, which are Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Russia and where BTA bank had its interests, are seeking the extradition of Ablyazov, who was arrested in response to an extradition request from Ukraine. Kazakhstan, however, has no extradition agreement with France.

Ablyazov, 50, fled his home country in 2009 after Kazakhstan prosecutors accused him of money laundering and fraud, and issued a warrant for his arrest. He initially went to Britain, where he was granted political asylum in 2011.

The charges against Ablyazov in Kazakhstan relate to the collapse of his BTA bank, money laundering and his involvement in a criminal group. He denied the charges and claimed his prosecution was part of a politically motivated vendetta against him for falling out with Kazakhstan's long-serving President Nursultan Nazarbayev, The Guardian reported earlier.

BTA bank was the biggest lender in Kazakhstan before it defaulted on $12 billion of debt and was taken over by the government in 2009.

BTA Bank filed a series of lawsuits against Ablyazov in the UK High Court shortly after his arrival in London, as a part of a restructuring agreement with creditors to recover $5 billion assets allegedly misappropriated by Ablyazov during his tenure at the bank between 2005 and 2009. The court has already approved the seizure of billions of dollars worth of his assets including a London mansion, according to The Independent.

Ablyazov has been on an Interpol wanted list at the behest of the Russian authorities, who have charged him with embezzlement related to his former bank’s operations in their country.

Ablyazov was sentenced by a London High Court judge in February 2012 to 22 months in prison for contempt of court. He fled the UK shortly after the ruling, accoridng to the prosecutors.

 

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