Mukhtar Ablyazov, the former BTA Bank JSC (BTAS) chairman who is on the run from authorities, lost an appeal to overturn a 22-month jail sentence for contempt, costing him the right to defend himself at a civil trial starting tomorrow.
“It is difficult to imagine a party to commercial litigation who has acted with more cynicism, opportunism and deviousness towards court orders than Mr. Ablyazov,” Judge Maurice Kay said in the written ruling at the U.K. Court of Appeal in London today.
The former Kazakh bank executive has been in hiding since February after he was found in contempt for violating a 2009 asset-freeze order in the civil fraud case against him by lying about his assets and moving money.
BTA, which was the biggest lender in Kazakhstan before it defaulted on $12 billion of debt in 2009, filed a series of lawsuits against Ablyazov and Roman Solodchenko, the bank’s former chief executive officer, claiming they took more than $6 billion from the bank using fake loans, back-dated documents and offshore companies. Both men have denied the claims.
A trial in which the bank is seeking to get back $2.1 billion in assets is scheduled to begin tomorrow and last for three weeks. The judge in that matter declined to remove himself over bias claims from Ablyazov’s lawyers on Nov. 1.
Ablyazov’s “lies on oath are a fact which cannot be ignored,” Judge Nigel Teare said when refusing to recuse himself. “My approach would be no different from that of any other judge.”
Lawyers for Ablyazov said they have applied to the U.K.’s highest court for permission to appeal today’s ruling that blocks him from fighting the civil claims.
“Mr. Ablyazov continues to maintain his right to defend the claim,” attorneys from Addleshaw Goddard LLP said in an e- mailed statement. “He is also seeking to protect his right to a fair trial by appealing” Teare’s decision not to recuse himself.
The court’s ruling reinforces BTA’s position that “bringing these proceedings was the most legitimate, transparent, and effective way to recover misappropriated assets,” Pavel Prosyankin, a managing director at the Almaty- based bank, said in an e-mailed statement. “It is also a ringing endorsement of the allegations of dishonesty that the bank has been pursuing against Mr. Ablyazov since 2009.”
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