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29 мая, 2024
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In 2012 | Kazakhstan’s most wanted, in Malta (MaltaToday.com.mt 12/30/12)

One of the uncommon stories to have featured this year in the Maltese press were the vicissitudes that brought former diplomat and multi-millionaire Rakhat Aliyev to some sort of ‘safe harbour’ on the Maltese islands.

By Matthew Vella

Rakhat Aliyev lives in a self-imposed exile in Malta after he was stripped of his position and immunity in Austria.

One of the uncommon stories to have featured this year in the Maltese press were the vicissitudes that brought former diplomat and multi-millionaire Rakhat Aliyev to some sort of ‘safe harbour’ on the Maltese islands.

Aliyev, 50, arrived in Malta with the help of Austrian financiers and their Maltese connections – lawyer Pio Vassallo among them – to set up a home for him and his family in 2010.

But the former son-in-law to Kazakh dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev was being hunted down by those who claim he is responsible for numerous human rights violations.

Soon, questions arose of how the Maltese government had awarded the millionaire a permanent residence permit, despite objections raised by the police due to a previous Interpol alert issued against him.

The powerful family squabble between the President of the oil-rich nation of Kazakhstan and his powerful, exiled son-in-law even reached the island’s Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit. And in the Maltese courts, a €2.4 million lawsuit as the subject of a bitter feud between Aliyev – who goes by the name of Rakhat Shoraz, and lives in Mellieha’s swank Santa Marija estate with wife Elnara Shorazova – and his former lawyer, Pio Valletta.

According to the lawsuit, which is now the subject of an out-of-court-settlement, Valletta had called in former ministers Tonio Borg and Carm Mifsud Bonnici as witnesses: ostensibly to explain the difficulties he encountered in procuring a residence permit for Aliyev. In a list of services he rendered to the couple, Valletta charged them nothing short of a cool €150,000 because of the “difficulties” he encountered in procuring the permanent residence status, “due to the non-approval from the police authorities” on account of an Interpol alert that had been issued against Aliyev.

The Maltese government has insisted that Alijev has a residence permit issued by the Austrian government, because he is married to an EU citizen, and as such enjoys freedom of movement and residence.

Aliyev’s commercial activities in Malta are so far unknown.

One year after he approached MaltaToday’s owners in a bid to buy this newspaper, he claimed that MaltaToday as being “financed” by his persecutors. In a rare appearance in the Maltese courts to answer to letters-rogatory from Austrian prosecutors, who are investigating his involvement in the death of two Nurbank bankers in 2007, Aliyev insisted he would sue this newspaper for defamation.

Apart from the Austrian investigation into the Nurbank double-murder, the former prime minister of Kazakhstan has also complained in a Maltese court that the Commissioner of Police was refusing to investigate his political rival Aliyev. Akezhan Kazhegeldin and his bodyguards Satzhan Ibraev and Pyotr Afanasenko are calling on the Maltese courts to have Aliyev investigated for “crimes against humanity”.

Aliyev is also understood to have a book soon to be printed by Progress Press, the company owned by the publishers of The Times of Malta.

Hunting down Aliyev in Malta

Why would a wealthy Kazakh businessman with global financial interests and accusations of human rights violations seek ‘refuge’ in Malta?

Aliyev, who celebrated his 50th birthday on 10 December and can relocate to any place in the world, came to Malta some time in 2010 thanks to the permanent residence scheme that granted him a 15% flat tax rate for buying property. The property in question was one or more Fort Cambridge apartments in Tigné, the development owned by Gap Developments plc’s George Muscat and tuna-ranching magnate Charles Azzopardi.

Aliyev’s presence in Malta has attracted major media and legal attention.

On one front, the former Kazakh prime minister Akezhan Kazhegeldin claims that as deputy head of the Kazakh secret service, Aliyev subjected his bodyguards to torture under interrogation and in prison in 2000, to force their admission that Kazhegeldin had planned a coup d’état against President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Leading that legal team is the former democratically-elected prime minister of East Germany, Lothar de Maizière.

On another front, Aliyev’s global business activities are being tracked down by the legal representatives of the widows of the Nurbank bankers – a tag team of Austrian high-profile attorneys and public relations experts leading the challenge.

In 2007, Aliyev was tried in absentia while serving as Kazakhstan’s ambassador to the OSCE in Vienna, and sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment by a Kazakh court – his marriage to the daughter of the Kazakh president was officially cancelled and he was stripped of his diplomatic immunity.

On his part, Aliyev submits that he is a victim of an international campaign directly financed by his former father-in-law, who has ruled Kazakhstan since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. For example, he accuses the lawyers representing the Nurbank widows – Lansky Ganzgner Partner – of representing the interests of the Nazarbayev regime.

And in his propaganda opus ‘Godfather-In-Law’, Aliyev documents his career under the irremovable Nazarbayev whom he says follows in the footsteps of the ‘Genghis Khan, the Russian tsars and the Bolsheviks’.

It is no secret that both Nazarbayev and Aliyev’s family feud is actively engaged in employing lobbyists in countries as far as the United States.

Kazakhstan, albeit a repressive Central Asian state, is strategically important to the USA for its enormous oil reserves: embassy cables leaked by Wikileaks reveal requests for US assistance on Aliyev’s extradition; the New York Times revealed American political lobbyists employed by both sides of the Nazarbayev-Aliyev divide, appealing to members of the American Congress to either condemn the Kazakh government, or further pro-Kazakhstan causes.

Link:
Malta Today

View article:
In 2012 | Kazakhstan’s most wanted, in Malta (MaltaToday.com.mt 12/30/12)

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