Mukhtar Ablyazov, the Kazakh fugitive, found guilty of £2.6bn fraud, wanted by Russia, sued in London, finally captured in France

At least three countries are queuing up to try the billionaire banker for alleged embezzlement on ‘an epic scale’

The closest that Mouans Sartoux normally comes to a muscular police presence are patrols to check on holidaying villagers’ homes. At least, that was the case until French special forces – backed by armoured vehicles and a helicopter – arrived looking for the fugitive oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov.

Fortunately for residents of this sedate village north of Cannes, the “private militia” surrounding the Kazakh billionaire – and successful UK asylum applicant – did not put up a fight as Mr Ablyazov was arrested on Wednesday in his rented villa after a Europe-wide manhunt that could have been taken from the pages of a thriller.

The 50-year-old banker appeared before a judge in Aix-en-Provence yesterday at the start of what are likely to be lengthy extradition proceedings. The list of countries that would like to get their hands on Mukhtar Ablyazov arguably make him one of the world’s most wanted men. Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Russia might eventually be able to try him in connection with alleged embezzlement on “an epic scale”, in the words of the British courts.

The former banker was sued for $6bn (£3.9bn) in London’s High Court and his wife and child were forcibly taken from Rome to Kazakhstan in May, sparking a political crisis.

The High Court found that Mr Ablyazov misappropriated at least £2.6bn from the Kazakh bank BTA while he was chairman. The bank played a crucial role in tracking down the man who fled Britain in February last year after being sentenced to 22 months’ imprisonment for contempt of court. In a statement BTA said: “Since Mr Ablyazov fled the UK in violation of court orders, the BTA Bank has sought to locate him and recently traced him to southern France. The bank provided information about his whereabouts to French authorities who acted promptly to arrest him.”

The absence of an extradition treaty between Kazakhstan and France means that Mr Ablyazov was arrested on a Ukrainian warrant linked to the BTA embezzlement. The Independent understands that police were led to Mouans Sartoux by private detectives, who followed a London-based Ukrainian woman (a close friend of Mr Ablyazov) to one of at least three homes he had rented on the Cote d’Azur.  Sources familiar with the case said the woman arrived at the villa shortly after 3am 10 days ago after catching a late-night flight from London. Mr Ablyazov was seen in his underwear closing the curtains shortly afterwards. The woman was then seen visiting a different villa five days before Mr Ablyazov’s arrest, prompting the bank to tip off the French authorities.

The banker, whose country’s elite has grown wealthy on the proceeds of vast oil and gas reserves, insists he is the target of a political conspiracy after he left his post as Energy minister and became a prominent opponent of his country’s autocratic president, Nursultan Nazarbayev. Mr Ablyazov funded a pro-reform party in 2001, earning himself a six-year prison term for abuse of public office. After he was pardoned by Mr Nazarbayev in 2003, he presided over rapid growth at BTA, allegedly plundering its assets until he fled to London 2009 and successfully applied for asylum.

Kazakh prosecutors have described him as the head of an extremist, criminal conspiracy bent on “seizing power by inciting civil strife and hatred”.

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
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

Volunteer Trustee opportunities now available at The Society for Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Volunteer your expertise as Tr...

Early Years Educator

£68 - £73 per day + Competitive rates of pay based on experience: Randstad Edu...

Nursery Nurse

£69 - £73 per day + Competitive London rates of pay: Randstad Education Group:...

Primary KS1 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam