The International case against Mukhtar Ablyazov

From 20 May 2005 to 2 February 2009, Mukhtar Ablyazov was the Chairman of the Board of Directors of JSC BTA Bank (the “Bank”). As Chairman, Mr Ablyazov exercised management control over the Bank and was responsible for establishing and overseeing procedures within the Bank to avoid any conflicts of interest arising between shareholders, the Board of Directors and employees of the Bank and for settling any conflicts of interest on issues which other bodies within the Bank were unable to handle.

During the period that he was the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Mr Ablyazov beneficially owned a significant portion of the shares in the Bank through intermediary companies. Mr Ablyazov’s beneficial interest in the Bank was not disclosed in the Bank’s consolidated financial statements for the years 2006, 2007 or 2008 or the nine months ended 30 September 2009.

Accordingly, the Bank assembled a team to investigate the circumstances behind the Bank’s current financial position and the extent to which it is a result of what are believed to be fraudulent transactions entered into by, or on the instructions of, the former management, in particular, Mr Ablyazov, and legal proceedings were taken in a variety of relevant jurisdictions around the world to recover missing assets. Such jurisdictions have included England and the USA, two of the most respected legal forums in the world.

  • BTA has issued 13 claims in England against Mukhtar Ablyazov and others with the English Court awarding US$2 billion plus interest in three of those claims.
  • In total international rulings against him amount to over US$7 billion. A worldwide freezing order of his assets remains in place.
  • The English High Court issued an arrest warrant for Ablyazov on 16 February 2012. It is still outstanding.
  • Since Mukhtar Ablyazov fled justice in Kazakhstan in early 2009 the merits of the case of whether he defrauded BTA on a massive scale has been tested in some of the most respected legal jurisdictions in the world.
  • In December 2022 an American jury awarded BTA Bank more than USD$218m following a trial over Ablyazov’s embezzlement and money laundering.

English High Court of Justice

Since August 2009, the Bank has issued 13 claims in England against Mukhtar Ablyazov and others, with a combined value in excess of U.S.$6 billion, plus interest. BTA has been successful in every case with the Court not finding in Mr Ablyazov’s favour on any occasion. A significant number of judgements have been obtained in the English courts and below we have provided a summary of those available through public searches. They are available here. Given the complexity and length...

Southern District of New York

Southern District of New York City of Almaty, Kazakhstan v. Mukhtar Ablyazov was filed on 9 July 2015 in the Southern District of New York federal court with Judge Alison Julie Nathan presiding. Court documents show that the Plaintiffs are seeking to depose Ablyazov in New York, the UK, Spain or France, and that Ablyazov has not yet produced documents in discovery effectively stonewalling the court. Ablyazov wrote to the federal judge in February 2019 that he cannot provide documents...

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia

BTA Bank filed suit in 2016 in U.S. federal court in Virginia against the sister of Ablyazov, Gaukhar Kussainova, for allegedly receiving millions in funds originating from BTA Bank. The BTA Bank claim against Kussainova in federal court is that she received more than $6 million of stolen BTA Bank funds from Ablyazov and used the stolen monies to buy business and real estate assets in the USA. Gaukhar Kussainova is the owner of a 7,349 square foot house on...

Fairfax Circuit Court, 19th Judicial Circuit of Virginia

A jury reached a verdict in a trial and recognized the Receivership order issued by the High Court of England & Wales and same court’s judgements totaling $4.7 billion against Ablyazov. The verdict added $7.3 million to the judgements against Ablyazov.

Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court

Ablyazov application to the BVI court that two judgements by the English High Court not be enforced in the British Virgin Islands did not hold up in opinion of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, and were enforceable.

Supreme Court of Seychelles

The Supreme Court of Seychelles ruled on 13 October 2011 that the English Receivership Order from the English High Court proceedings between BTA Bank and Ablyazov was enforceable in the jurisdiction of the Republic of Seychelles. Ablyazov made two appeals: the first that the judge erred by wrongly applied law and that Ablyazov was not present and thereby denied the right to fair hearing. The second appeal that eleven companies are exempted in the Seychelles from reach of the receivership...