'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.”

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Voices
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Life and Style
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it