MOSCOW, October 3 (RAPSI) – A French appeals court has rejected a bid by the jailed former chief executive of Kazakhstan’s third-largest lender, BTA Bank, to be freed from custody pending extradition hearings, the bank said Thursday.
BTA Bank managing director Pavel Prosyankin lauded the ruling, saying in a statement that Mukhtar Ablyazov could not be “trusted to respect any laws which would hold him to account for his fraud.”
Ablyazov, an avowed foe of Kazakhstan’s authoritarian government, was detained on July 31 near Cannes, France, and is wanted for extradition by authorities in Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine.
Kazakhstan is seeking Ablyazov’s extradition in connection with allegations of multibillion-dollar fraud at BTA Bank.
The businessman fled to the United Kingdom after Kazakhstan’s government acquired a stake in BTA Bank in 2009. The bank came under the control of the Samruk-Kazyna sovereign wealth fund.
The lender filed suit in the UK High Court later that year over the alleged embezzlement of around $6 billion by its former management.
BTA Bank said in its statement Thursday that the High Court had already found Ablyazov liable for fraud and ordered him to pay the lender more than $3 billion.
Ablyazov had until his arrest by French police been on the run since February 2012, when a British judge sentenced him to 22 months in jail for contempt of court after he violated an asset freeze order.
Ablyazov has claimed that opaque financial practices were a requirement to operate in Kazakhstan’s murky business world and that he was singled out for political reasons.
He has for more than a decade been associated with the beleaguered opposition to Kazakhstan’s veteran President Nursultan Nazarbayev and has funded media outlets critical of the government.
He was granted political asylum in Britain in 2011.
Kazakhstan and France do not have an extradition treaty, while extradition to Russia could be held up by procedural issues.
A review of the Ukrainian extradition request is expected on December 5. The review was reportedly delayed as Ukraine authorities submitted the documents in French and Ukrainian, neither of which Ablyazov speaks.