'Cynical and devious' Kazakh bank boss set to be stripped of £3bn assets

Fugitive's £18m London home may be seized after ruling in 'epic' fraud case

A fugitive former bank boss is on the verge of being stripped of assets worth more than £3bn, including a £18m mansion on one of London’s most expensive streets, after the Court of Appeal ruled that he had shown rare “cynicism and deviousness” in fighting a massive fraud claim.

Mukhtar Ablyazov, who fled Britain earlier this year after he was sentenced to 22 months imprisonment for failing to disclose full details of his vast wealth, is accused of defrauding one of Kazakhstan’s largest banks “on an epic scale” while its chairman between 2005 and 2009.

The first of several cases brought against Ablyazov by BTA Bank, one of the biggest civil claims to come before the British courts, had been due to start in London’s High Court tomorrow but he was today barred from contesting the proceedings.

The former Kazakh government minister denies wrongdoing, claiming that he fears for his safety and the lawsuits against him are politically motivated after he fell out with the oil-rich Central Asian state’s elite.

In a swingeing judgment, the Court of Appeal said that the billionaire had shown “contemptuous disregard” for previous courts orders and noted that despite avoiding custody by leaving the country, reportedly on board a coach to Paris, he was still communicating with his lawyers.

The ruling by a panel of three judges said: “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.”

Barring a successful appeal to the Supreme Court by the former Kazakh government minister, a formal judgment will be entered against him in a week, sparking the forfeiture of a vast portfolio of assets which BTA Bank claims resulted from his “widespread misappropriation” of its funds.

The bank, which was the subject of an emergency restructuring following Ablyazov’s departure in 2009, has brought nine separate claims against Ablyazov in the British courts amounting to $5bn (£3.1bn). A raft of British banks which invested in BTA, including the taxpayer-owned RBS, will share any clawback to a level of $500m (£312m).

Among the holdings set to be seized is Carlton House, a nine-bedroom mansion bought by Ablyazov in 2009 to house his wife and four children on The Bishop’s Avenue, the Hampstead street whose high proportion of plutocrats’ palaces has earned it the name Billionaire’s Row.

The vast property, which includes a 50ft ballroom, a 12-person Turkish bath and a lift to the underground garage, is one of a series of homes bought by the former banker in a spending spree allegedly financed by large-scale pilfering  from BTA using fake loans, back-dated documents and offshore accounts.

A High Court judge imposed three concurrent prison sentences on Ablyazov in February for contempt after he failed to disclose assets including Carlton House and Oaklands Park, a 100-acre estate on the edge of Windsor Great Park featuring tennis courts and a helicopter pad.

Ablyazov, who is subject to an arrest warrant in Britain but is not wanted by Interpol, left the country and rumours of his whereabouts range from Switzerland to eastern Europe. His lawyers do not know his whereabouts but he remains entitled to confidential legal advice.

In a statement, Addleshaw Goddard, the law firm representing Ablyazov, said: “He continues to maintain his right to defend the claims and has applied for permission to appeal the judgment.”

Pavel Prosyankin, managing director of BTA, which has also taken action in courts in Cyprus and the British Virgin Islands over its allegedly looted assets, said: “The court’s decision against Mr Ablyazov reinforces our belief that bringing these proceedings was the most legitimate, transparent and effective way to recover misappropriated assets and we remain committed to the process.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate