Ablyazov, Mukhtyar

Gender: .
State of concern: .

Who, Why and How exiled:

Founder and leader of opposition party "Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan". Moved to Moscow in 2003 after being released from prison on charges of abusing his ministerial power. Lived intermittently in Kazakhstan and Moscow, serving as Chairman on the Board of Directors of the Kazakh BTA Bank between 2005 and 2009. Moved to the UK in February 2009 and applied for asylum. (Evening Standard, 2010)

Category of exile: , . (Definitions here.)
Alleged affiliation: Former insider.

Which stages experienced: Stage 1   Stage 2   Stage 3. (Definitions here.)
Date of most serious incident: 2013.
Violence experienced: .

Stage 1 details (accusations/ charges/ Interpol notice/ extradition requests):

Accused of stealing and embezzling up to £4bn from the state-owned Kazakh bank BTA . Disappeared in 2012 after being sentenced to jail by a UK High Court judge for contempt of court (Armitage, 2015). In June 2017,  the court of Astana tried and sentenced  him for 20 years in absentia (Tentrinews, 2017)

For allegedly mandating the murder of former head of the BTA bank Yerlan Tatishev he was sentenced in absentia to life in prison by a Kazakh court in November 2018.(IntelliNews, 2018)



Stage 2 details (arrest/ detention/ extradition):

In 2012, Ablyazov was accused of embezzling £3bn from the state-owned Kazakh bank BTA and was found guilty of contempt of a court in London for trying to hide more than £34m of assets, including Carlton House, his seven-bedroom home on The Bishops Avenue, and an £18m 100-acre estate near Windsor called Oakland Park. A high court judge sentenced him to 22 months in prison in February 2012, but he fled to France before he could be jailed (The Guardian, 2014; IntelliNews, 2018).

Private detectives working for BTA bank  tracked him down in summer 2013 to a villa on the French Riviera by tailing his friend Olena Tischenko, a Ukrainian lawyer, from the Royal Courts of Justice in London to the south of France (The Guardian, 2014). He was arrested in France in July 2013 (Armitage, 2015). Until 2016 he was held in French custody, in Fleury-Mérogis prison (Bland, 2018). In France the court ruled, he should be extradited to Ukraine or Russia, with a preference for Russia. Kazakhstan does not have an extradition treaty with France (The Guardian, 2014). Despite that Ablyazov argued that he would be surrendered to Kazakhstan for the cases against him were politically motivated. The french administrative court thereupon cancelled the extradition order to Russia and released him. (IntelliNews, 2018)


Stage 3 details (attack/ abduction/ rendition/ torture/ assassination/ death):

Previous attempts on his life have been made in Russia and Kazakhstan. He has also claimed that a mystery car rammed his vehicle repeatedly as he was being driven through London (Evening Standard, 2010).

Other actions during Stages 1–3 (dispossession/ overseas assets frozen/ intimidation/ action against associates/ …):

He has claimed that someone tried to kidnap his son from school (Evening Standard, 2010).

In 2013, Alma Shalabayeva, Ablyazov's wife and the couple's six-year-old daughter, Alua, were abducted in Rome by the Kazakh ambassador and deported on a private jet to Kazakhstan, paid for by the Kazakh embassy. They returned to Rome with the assistance of the Italian authorities in 2013 (The Guardian, 2014).

International arrest warrant: .

Countries of transit, asylum and/or residence: , , .

Legal status (refugee/ asylum seeker/ resident):

Ablyazov has been granted political asylum in the UK in 2011 (The Guardian,2014).


Current status:

In December 2016, Ablyazov was released from custody after France's highest administrative authority blocked his extradition to Russia (The Telegraph,2016).


Press sources:

Armitage, Jim "Mukhtar Ablyazov: Kazakh billionaire to be extradited to Russia from France," The Independent, October 12, 2015, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/mukhtar-ablyazov-kazakh-billionaire-to-be-extradited-to-russia-from-france-a6691731.html [Accessed: 23 May, 2018]

Evening Standard, "Living in fear in London: the exiled Kazakh banker accused of $2 billion fraud," August 25, 2010. Available at: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/living-in-fear-in-london-the-exiled-kazakh-banker-accused-of-2-billion-fraud-6506705.html.[Accessed: 23 May, 2018]

The Telegraph,2016.  "France blocks extradition of Kazakh oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov to Russia", December 10, 2016. [Online]. Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/10/france-blocks-extradition-kazakh-oligarch-mukhtar-ablyazovto/ [Accessed: 23 May, 2018]

The Guardian, 2014. "Kazakh billionaire to be extradited over alleged £3bn fraud, French court rules", 9 January,2014. [Online]. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/jan/09/kazakh-extradited-fraud-mukhtar-ablyazov [Accessed: 23 May, 2018]

Tengrinews, 2017. " Аблязов осужден на 20 лет лишения свободы" [Online]. Available at:
https://tengrinews.kz/kazakhstan_news/ablyazov-osujden-na-20-let-lisheniya-svobodyi-319359/ [Accessed: 23 May, 2018]

Bland, S. (2018). "The Ablyazov Affair: ‘Fraud on an Epic Scale’". 23 Feb. 2018. The Diplomat. [Online]. Available at: https://thediplomat.com/2018/02/the-ablyazov-affair-fraud-on-an-epic-scale/ [Accessed: 23 May, 2018]

IntelliNews (2018) Kazakh fugitive banker Ablyazov sentenced to life for orchestrating murder. [online] Available at: http://www.intellinews.com/kazakh-fugitive-banker-ablyazov-sentenced-to-life-for-orchestrating-murder-152720/[Accessed 3 Feb. 2019].