London-based banker accused of being world's biggest fraudster

London-based banker accused of being world's biggest fraudster



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Mukhtar Ablyazov is being sued for £2.5 billion and could face up to two years in jail for failing to comply with High Court orders to disclose his worldwide business dealings and true assets.

High Court judge Mr Justice Teare had frozen Mukhtar Ablyazov’s assets, blocked any future business deals and seized his passport after he failed to reveal his assets to the courts for more than two years. The judge had expressed his astonishment that such a powerful businessman could appear to forget so much of what he owns.
However, now the extent of his property empire has been revealed. Mr Ablyazov who lives with his family in a house on The Bishop’s Avenue, dubbed Billionaires’ Row, in Hampstead, which is valued at £18-20 million. His UK portfolio also includes a property in Windlesham, two in Camden and one more in Egham, with the latter of these, which is also valued between £18 and £20 million, boasting tennis courts and a helipad.
The Royal Bank of Scotland is amongst the creditors who will receive 50 per cent of any claw-back from Mr Ablyazov, against whom there are six legal actions. The former head of the state-run BTA bank fled to London in February 2009 after there were warrants issued for his arrest from both his native Kazakhstan and Russia, after being accused of money laundering and fraud. He was granted asylum in the UK in July earlier this year.
Mr Ablyazov denies disregarding any court order and is fighting the attempt to have him imprisoned. He says he is entirely innocent and the victim of political and financial persecution by Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev, who is seeking his extradition to stand trial there. Mr Ablyazov was, incidentally, a co-founder of the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DCK), an opposition political movement that aimed to challenge the current president.
In the most recent High Court hearings Anatoly Ereshchenko, who was one of his aides, reportedly admitted lying on oath. The suspected fraudster's brother-in-law, Syrym Shalabayev, was jailed in his absence for 18 months for assisting Mr Ablyazov in hiding his assets.
In May it was revealed in court that Mr Ablyazov had been using 600 shell companies to hide his wealth, including ownership of his UK properties, which are now held by the receiver.

Mr Justice Teare said, back in court in December, that Mr Ablyazov "cannot be trusted" to reveal the extent of his property. He was said to have omitted to mention his ownership of a large Docklands office block also. "An asset the size of Canary Wharf can hardly have slipped Mr Ablyazov's mind," noted three Appeal Court Judges, who upheld Mr Justice Teare’s court order.

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