Bloomberg News

BTA Bank Ex-Chairman Ablyazov Said to Flee U.K. Jail Sentence

February 22, 2012

Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- Mukhtar Ablyazov, the ex-chairman of BTA Bank, hasn’t been found by authorities and may be on the run after failing to attend a U.K. hearing where he was sentenced to 22 months in jail, a person familiar with the case said.

British law enforcement authorities are still looking for Ablyazov after a warrant for his arrest for breaching an asset freeze order was issued in London on Feb. 16 -- the day he failed to appear at a sentencing hearing in the Kazakh bank’s contempt-of-court case against him, said the person, who isn’t permitted to speak publicly about the lawsuit.

Officers at the Royal Courts of Justice who search for and arrest people facing warrants haven’t found Ablyazov and are “actively working on it,” court spokeswoman Sally Land said today in a phone interview.

BTA, which defaulted on $12 billion of debt in 2009, filed a series of civil suits against Ablyazov and ex-Chief Executive Officer Roman Solodchenko claiming they stole from the Almaty- based bank using fake loans, back-dated documents and offshore companies. Both men have denied the claims.

Ablyazov’s lawyer, Duncan Matthews, didn’t return a call for comment and Ablyazov’s spokesman, Locksley Ryan, of RLF Partnership Ltd. in London, didn’t provide a comment when reached by e-mail today.

At last week’s hearing, Matthews told Judge Nigel Teare that Ablyazov had informed him by phone a few minutes before the session began that he wouldn’t attend.

Deliberate, Brazen

Teare ruled that Ablyazov made “deliberate and brazen” breaches of the asset freeze by lying about his property holdings, moving his money around and lying under oath in a $5 billion fraud lawsuit filed by BTA, once the biggest bank in Kazakhstan.

Ablyazov, who fled to Britain to escape prosecution in his home country, owns a mansion in London and a home in the British countryside, each valued at about 20 million pounds, and two apartments in the capital worth 1 million pounds each. Teare, oversaw a two-week trial in December, ruled he lied by claiming he didn’t own the properties.

The case is: JSC BTA Bank v. Mukhtar Ablyazov, [2011] EWHC 1136 (Comm), Royal Courts of Justice (London).

--With assistance from Christopher Scinta in London. Editors: Christopher Scinta, Heather Smith

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Larson in London at elarson4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@bloomberg.net


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