London Court Dismisses Attempt To Seize Properties Linked To Nazarbaev Family
By RFE/RL April 08, 2020
A British court has dismissed an attempt by the country's National Crime Agency (NCA) to seize a luxurious London mansion and two other properties linked to the family of former Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev.
The properties, owned by companies based in tax havens, have been subject to unexplained wealth orders (UWOs) since May 2019.
Under a UWO, the agency can ask a court to seize property when a suspected corrupt foreign official, or their family, cannot identify the legitimate source of the funds used to buy it.
But the London High Court on April 8 discharged the orders against the companies that own the properties.
The NCA said it would appeal the ruling, with the head of the agency's National Economic Crime Center saying it "always expected there would be significant legal challenge" over the use of UWOs, which were introduced in 2018.
The case involves a vast property -- with an underground pool and a cinema -- located on one of London's most exclusive roads, commonly known as "Billionaires' Row."
Nazarbaev's grandson, Nurali Aliev, his wife, and children lived in the mansion, worth over $100 million.
Lawyers for offshore companies that own the properties said the funding had come from Aliev's mother, Darigha Nazarbaeva, who was economically independent.
Aliev, who presents himself as a businessman and investor, said that the judgement "demonstrates the NCA obtained the orders on an inaccurate basis as part of a flawed investigation."
A spokesman for Nazarbaeva, the former president's daughter and current speaker of the parliament's upper chamber, the Senate, said the judgement "entirely vindicated" her.
"It is frustrating and disappointing that she has had to take this action to fight these draconian proceedings and clear her name," the spokesman said.
The NCA had argued the money used to buy the three properties was linked to Aliev's father, Rakhat, a senior government member who became an opponent of Nazarbaev, according to Reuters.
Rakhat Aliev was found dead in an Austrian prison in 2015 while awaiting trial for the alleged murder of two bankers in Kazakhstan.
Nazarbaev, who was president of oil- and gas-rich Kazakhstan for three decades until he suddenly resigned a year ago, continues to play a crucial role in the country's political life as the leader of the ruling Nur-Otan party and as lifetime chairman of the powerful Security Council.
With reporting by Reuters
Copyright (c) 2020. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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