London court upholds ruling in BTA Bank's $1 bln dispute with ex-chairman
MOSCOW, May 3 - RAPSI. The High Court of Justice has dismissed the appeals filed by several companies allegedly involved in the misappropriation of over $1 billion from Kazakhstan's BTA Bank. The companies had previously been deprived of the right to defend themselves in court due to their failure to abide by court orders, according to information made available to the Russian Legal Information Agency (RAPSI/rapsinews.com).
The defendants in the bank's lawsuit against its former chairman Mukhtar Ablyazov include offshore companies registered in the Seychelles and BVI.
In October-November 2008 BTA Bank transferred around $1.031 billion to the companies' accounts under loan agreements reportedly intended to finance the purchase of oil and gas equipment. However, the documents turned out to be fraudulent as there was no intention to proceed with this purchase and the loans agreements were executed by Ablyazov, who was then in control of the bank.
The bank has proved at the London trial that the defendants knowingly mislead the court, as a result of which they were deprived of the right to defend themselves in October.
In February the bank requested to deprive Ablyazov of the same right after he was found guilty of contempt of court and sentenced to 22 months in prison. The judgment, however, was impossible to enforce as the Ablyazov's whereabouts still remain unknown. He is thought to have escaped to France using documents he withheld from the court.
The criminal case against Ablyazov began in early 2009 after the state acquired a stake in BTA and the bank came under the control of Kazakhstan's Samruk-Kazyna sovereign fund. Ablyazov then fled the country and settled in the UK. He believes the charges against him are politically motivated. Kazakhstan seeks his extradition for large-scale fraud and draining the banks funds using dummy companies.
In May 2011 the London court rejected any political bias in the dispute and reaffirmed the validity of the claim.
Russia has also launched a criminal case against Ablyazov. In October 2010 a Moscow district court issued an arrest warrant for Ablyazov in absentia on charges of large-scale fraud.