BTA Bank files false charges in cooperation with investigative authorities of Ukraine, Russia and France

On 9 April, 2014, the French court cancelled the decision on the extradition of the Kazakh opposition activist, Mukhtar Ablyazov and ordered the case undergo further consideration. Meanwhile, British lobbyists of the dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev are trying to gain favour for the controversial decision to revoke Mukhtar Ablyazov’s political asylum.

In its previous report the Open Dialog Foundation analysed how the ‘Ilyashev and Partners’ law firm, which represents the interests of the Kazakhstani BTA Bank in Ukraine, influenced Ukrainian and Czech investigative authorities, circumventing the legally established rules. BTA Bank fully represents the position of the Kazakh government interested in instituting criminal proceedings against the opposition activist, Mukhtar Ablyazov and other ex-managers of the bank. The proceedings against Ablyazov and his colleagues were initiated by way offiling false charges; this was done by a Ukrainian investigator, Maxim Melnik under the guidance of lawyers of BTA Bank who filed extradition requests against ex-managers of the bank and influenced extradition procedures in the Czech Republic. The updates published on trust.ua web portal serve to confirm our assertions and show how the Kazakh party influenced Mukhtar Ablyazov’s extradition procedure in France.

In the hearing of Mukhtar Ablyazov’s extradition case in France, the Ukrainian party is represented by the law firm Winston & Strawn LLP. The Ukrainian investigator issued a permit for this firm to represent Ukraine’s interests in court but in doing so, he did not comply with all of the procedures provided by the law. The persons in charge of ‘representing’ Ukraine are the lawyers of the Kazakhstani BTA Bank, the employeesof the ‘Ilyashev and Partners’ law firm.Aside from that, the French prosecutor cooperated with the representatives of Ukraine, Russia and BTA Bank in order to ensure Ablyazov’s extradition.

At the extradition trial of Igor Kononko, Ablyazov’s former colleague, the interests of Ukraine were illegally represented in London’s High Court by Norton Rose law firm, financed by Kazakhstan’s BTA Bank. It was a major violation of the law that in the extradition cases of Mukhtar Ablyazov and his colleagues, the Ukrainian state is represented by individuals who are not adequately authorised to do so and who are influenced considerably by BTA Bank.

The report is based on data taken from the discussions and correspondence disclosed through the media:

  • those between the Ukrainian investigator Maxim Melnik and the ‘Ilyashev and Partners’ firm, representing the interests of the Kazakhstan’s BTA Bank;
  • those between the French prosecutor Solange Legras and the representatives of Ukraine, Russia and the Kazakh BTA Bank.

In addition, the report used official documents of the General Prosecutor’s of Ukraine, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Embassy in France and Winston & Strawn LLP law firm. The report refers to the information gathered by Mukhtar Ablyazov’s lawyers who confirm that the intention to deprive Ablyazov of his refugee status is the result of a well-planned campaign conducted by the English lobbyists of Nazarbayev’s regime.

The report focuses on the disclosed correspondence concerning Ablyazov’s case. Analysing the available documents is necessary, because this very correspondence was the reason behind the High Court of London’s decision to deny Ukraine’s extradition request of Ablyazov’s former colleague, Igor Kononko on 9 April, 2014. Judge Collins stated that there had been a gross abuse of the extradition procedure: ‘‘The e-mail correspondence is the mostremarkable document, as it undoubtedly shows ... that the procedure of drafting the extradition request was violated; in particular, not only was the essential information not given, but the material serving as grounds for the request was evidently forged by Ilyashev (editor’s note: i.e., ‘‘Ilyashev and Partners” firm) ... who gave Mr.Melnik various petitions and documents’’. Also, as the British judge noted, ‘‘the e-mails seem to be speaking for themselves.”

These facts must not be ignored at the extradition trial in Lyon, as they are indicative of the corruption-based cooperation between Kazakh, Ukrainian and Russian authorities carried out via the nationalised BTA Bank with the purpose of political persecution of Kazakh opposition activists and people close to them in Europe.