A billionaire fraudster is set to lose three of his luxury properties in Britain's most exclusive postcodes after a High Court ruling.
Kazakh businessman Mukhtar Ablyazov fled the UK on a Europe-bound coach last year after he was sentenced to 22 months imprisonment for contempt over failing to declare the full extent of his wealth.
It is alleged that he embezzled more than $6bn during his time as chairman of BTA Bank between 2005 and 2009, which he denies. The bank is now pursuing Mr Ablyazov in the High Court over 11 separate claims in a bid to recover its funds.
His whereabouts are currently unknown, but should Mr Ablyazov return to the UK he might find himself in far less comfortable surroundings than he's accustomed to.
Receivers KPMG have been given the go ahead to put properties worth a combined £41m up for sale.
The jewel in the crown is Carlton House, which was once his main UK residence. The 15,000-square-foot mansion is situated on the The Bishop's Avenue (often dubbed “Billionaires' Row”) in North London.
For £20m, buyers would get a 50-foot long ballroom for entertaining, nine bedrooms with Italian marble ensuites and a wood-panelled lift to be used should a journey up the sweeping oval staircase prove too strenuous.
Residents could enjoy a “heated mosaic swimming pool”, a 12-person Turkish bath and a library. The property also has a “Thunderbirds-style vehicle lift” which takes drivers from the forecourt to the underground four-car garage.
Hugo Thistlethwayte, of the Prime Purchase buying agency, said: “It's a very special road. It has very large detached houses with big gardens and it has always been favoured by international purchasers.”
Also up for sale is the 100-acre Oaklands Park estate in Egham, valued at £20m. It was formerly owned by US computer billionaire Michael Dell and comes with tennis courts and a helipad.
Mr Ablazyov's position is that he has never owned these two expensive properties, and that it was the Court that ruled that they are his.
His lawyers have also set in motion a claim against the UK at the European Court of Human Rights after he was debarred from defending the claims against him.
A more modest flat, in London's St John's Wood near Lord's Cricket Ground, has an estimated value of £900,000-£1.1m. It has a 24-hour porter service as well as a communal swimming pool and gym.
BTA Bank Managing Director Pavel Prosyankin, who is overseeing the asset recovery process, said in a statement: “This order is another important step forward in the Bank's effort to recover the billions of dollars in assets which Mr Ablyazov misappropriated while Chairman. We can now move to liquidate these assets. The Bank will continue to leverage the English High Court judgments to pursue assets across the globe.”