It has been a long time, since we wrote about Bulat aka Butya Abilov – a lustrated Nur-Otan Party member and a leader of the Kazakh democratic forces and what actually not…
Butya’s attempts to register the Bizdin Tandau (Our Choice) Party brought no result, so he founded a whole endowment aimed at repatriation of assets back to Kazakhstan. Any success at all? Not really, judging by a journey to London. And you know why? Because the Not-Exactly-Unknown Akezhan Kazhegeldin was Butya’s advisor.
If there ever was the last man to approach for an opinion on the asset repatriation, that would be him – the in-absentia-convicted ex-Premier of Kazakhstan.
Twenty years passed since his run-off across the Straight of Dover with millions of dollars. So, they could as much resort to Lera Kudryavtseva, a Russian Television celebrity, for she also comes from Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazhegeldin’s place of birth.
There is no sense in a thorough digging into the way Kazhegeldin thinks, as he has no understanding of the present Kazakh reality. However…
Bones Up on Basics, Mr. Oppositionist!
Let us first take our own journey into how Akezhan Magzhanovich Kazhegeldin stood out, while being the Kazakh Prime-Minister. A significant portion of all unpopular reforms that currently keep both the national economy and the indigenous population suffering, were implemented during Kazhegeldin’s Premiership and with his direct involvement.
Let us start with a recollection of the fact that it was particularly then, that the once truly powerful Supreme Council of Kazakhstan was dismissed. It was under his Premiership, that healthcare, education and municipal utility services were made commercial. And it was him who brought the notorious and omni-hated Flat Owner Partnerships (FOPs) to existence.
It is Kazhegeldin’s direct fault that all above-mentioned spheres today are in a poor, if not disastrous condition.
It is to the merit of Kazhegeldin, that television frequencies were privatized, following which privatization we acquired ourselves such an “outstanding” situation around pluralism of opinions and freedom of speech on TV.
And how can we not but recollect that it was particularly Kazhegeldin who pioneered the first trail into the world of offshore zones, thus showing the way for next generations of Kazakh corruptors to whitewash colossal amounts of money brought outside Kazakhstan.
And how much did he, himself, snatch, running abroad? USD 10 million? That sum only stands for what was officially proven! If not for the gavel of justice, what other nightmares would he create here!
By the way, it was exactly in the times of Kazhegeldin’s time in the office and with his direct lobbyist contribution that a great number of industrial and extracting/producing enterprises were privatized without any tenders. Today, every power socket in Kazakhstan broadcasts Bulat Abilov and his associate Urazaly Yerzhanov’s screams about unfair privatization.
Kazhegeldin did stand out – bypassing the Government and without solicitation of endorsements from other institutions of statehood, he, in the authoritarian manner, would issue Edicts and Resolutions in favor of private interests. Our Treasury lost billions of Tenges.
So, why, while loudly demanding the disclosure of all mysteries behind the de-nationalization of the “Karmet” Karaganda Metallurgical Combine and the “Kazakhmys” Copper Extraction and Smelting Plant, are Abilov and Yerzhanov silent about things we report above?
Who Cannibalized Kazakhstan?
Well, let us all be reminded that back in Year 2001 a court process involving the then Prime-Minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin exposed rather curious precognitions given by practically all members of the Cabinet of Ministers he was in charge of.
It was then that his present Comrades-in-Trouble, Mukhtar Ablyazov and Victor Khrapunov, made testimonies against him.
Let us also be reminded that in 1995 Bulat Abilov, after reaching an agreement with a rather famous Austrian company, “Voestalpine Intertrading”, to conduct investment activities in Kazakhstan, made bold to attempt to privatize the flagship of the Kazakh industry – the “Karmet” Karaganda Metallurgical Combine. Kazhegeldin and his Government must have had their own plans on the facility.
It is known that Kazhegeldin’s Government would more eagerly give priority to those privatization candidacies that were capable of immediate allocation of big bonuses in hard currency. Famous high-ranking persons in governmental offices discretionarily decided to give the Karmet to a financial-industrial group “Israel Corporation” (Israel) and its US partners. In doing so and for unknown reasons, nobody in those high-ranking offices showed care that “Butya” and “Voestalpine Intertrading” had already won the official privatization tender before.
Despite everything, a corresponding formal decision was duly made and signed by Kazhegeldin and the enterprise found itself under the management of Indians. Bulat Abilov, was, if to use the raw language, given the robust brush-off in the form of a popular question – “….And who and what are you?…”.
Lakshmi Mittal would never hide the fact that it was quite habitual for him to primitively bribe various officials and he even took pride in openly discussing that in the course of numerous interviews and at official meetings.
Do you really think that in process of the Karmet privatization, Lakshmi Mittal, all of a sudden, decided to deviate from his regular business conduct principles and chose to act in a fair way?
In 2002, Johannes Sittard, a former Director General of Ispat-Karmet, communicated to BBC, during an interview, that Lakshmi Mittal’s company paid a USD100 million “commission” to some “intermediaries” (was it not at all Kazhegeldin?) to be able to buy the Karmet.
That, however, is not all.
Of How Kim Refurbished Kazhegeldin’s Estate
Let us resume the review of the Kazhegeldin’s case court review process.
Below, for example, is an extract from a witness testimony made by another Not-Exactly-Unknown – Vladimir Kim, owner of “Kazakhmys”:
“ In spring 1995, Kazhegeldin, abused his powers of the Prime-Minister and demanded a bribe from the Kazakhmys President Vladimir Kim in the form of payment for the refurbishment of a flat owned by Kazhegeldin, for taking action regarding creation of favorable conditions for the Kazakhmys Corporation’s activities. In May 1996, impelled to fulfill those illegal demands, Vladimir Kim paid the cost of the refurbishment of Kazhegeldin’s flat in Almaty in the amount of USD180 thousand.
In spring 1997, Kazhegeldin again took steps towards the extortion of a bribe from Vladimir Kim in the form of a Toyota automobile. Vladimir Kim was impelled to transfer USD57 thousand to Dubai (UAE) and, upon arrival of the vehicle, transferred the ownership of the vehicle to Kazhegeldin.
At the end of the Year 1996, the ex-Premier demanded from Kim the payment of USD200 thousand for acquisition of an armored Mercedes-Benz 600 S. That demand was fulfilled, as well ”.
Of How Ablyazov and Khrapunov Put Kazhegeldin in Detention
On June 13, 1996 Kazhegeldin committed another illegal act – signed and introduced in effect the Resolution of the Government #735 “Concerning Privatization of the Ekibastuz GRES-1” (Heat Power Plant).
Extracts from the corresponding criminal investigation dossier:
“…in the result of that, the property with assessed value of 23 billion 759 million and 282 thousand Tenge was sold-out in process of a closed tender by means of the Dutch Methodology for 100 million Tenge. On 24 January, 1997, Kazhegeldin violated the provisions of the Edict of the President with the status of a Constitutional Law “Concerning the Republic of Kazakhstan Government” and the Regulation of the Work of the Government, by solely and without collegial review, issuing and signing the Resolution #100 “Concerning Measures Ensuring Growth of Output by Enterprises Providing Raw Materials to Ferrous Metallurgy and Aluminum Sub-Industry of the Republic of Kazakhstan”. In the result of that, the state incurred in losses totaling 4 billion 965 million and 600 thousand Tenge ”.
The former Minister of Energy and Coal Mining Industry Victor Khrapunov and ex-Minister of Energy, Industry and Trade Mukhtar Ablyazov were interrogated in court.
The latter of the two individuals was not a member of Kazhegeldin’s Cabinet of Ministers. That is, probably, why he did a lot to attract the public attention to the GRES-1 privatization transaction, which transaction was to the obvious detriment of the Kazakh economy.
Ablyazov communicated that he came in charge of the Ministry of Energy, Trade and Industry on 21 April, 1998. Prior to that, as the CEO of KEGOC (National Electric Grid Operator) he encountered the consequences and implications of the oppressive contract made by Government of Kazakhstan and АЕS of the USA, by which contract Kazakhstan had to pay AES 3 Cents for 1 Kw/hour, while there were opportunities to buy the electric for 2 Cents for 1 Kw/hour. After entering the office of the Minister of Energy, Ablyazov formed a special commission, which commission looked into the matter and made a conclusion why the GRES-1 privatization transaction was illegal.
Commission reported the following:
First of all, the privatization tender was conducted with major violations. A certain AES Santri Power Ltd won the tender, but the company was not on the list of the tender bidders.
Secondly, it was a closed tender. All those concerned were informed about the upcoming tender one day before… Ablyazov expressed opinion that the rights of the creditors were obviously violated.
The most astonishing testimony came from the ex-Mayor of Almaty Victor Khrapunov. He reported that he did not remember a meeting of the Government, at which the Resolution #735 would be discussed…
Appears that now we are “impelled” to agree with the position of the prosecuting officials, who conclude that the document dated 13 June, 1996 was signed and introduced in effect solely by Kazhegeldin. In the result of that, a piece of property with the balance value at 23 billion 759 million and 282 thousand Tenge was sold-out for 100 million Tenge.
One characteristic nuance – Khrapunov’s autograph is missing in the Resolution #735. He also did not attend meetings of the tender commission, although, at the time of events, he was its Deputy Chair. But he did…sign the final resolution of the tender commission.
So, how are things around the repatriation of assets and moneys stolen by former Kazakh officials? What do you say, Misters Yerzhanov and Abilov?