Mukhtar Ablyazov. Photo courtesy of vesti.kz
Mukhtar Ablyazov, the ex-banker of Kazakhstan's BTA bank accused of embezzling billions and sentenced to a prison term by London's High Court, has been finally arrested, Financial Times reports citing Ablyazov's lawyer.
He has been arrested in the south of France near Cannes by French special forces while traveling with a Central African Republic passport today, on Wednesday, his family lawyer told FT.
Russia, one of the countries where he is wanted for his extensive financial crimes and frauds, has already requested his extradition and Kazakhstan will doubtlessly follow shortly, so as Ukraine. In the meantime, Ablyazov denies all the charges and hopes that France will not deport him to any of the said countries, his lawyer said.
Ablyazov is wanted in Kazakhstan for embezzlement, fraud, money laundering and siphoning off BTA bank's funds through dummy companies and illegal financial schemes.
He fled Kazakhstan in 2009 when BTA Bank he used to chair was found to have an estimated $15 billion hole in its accounts. He was put on the international wanted list in March 2009.
Ablyazov was granted asylum in the United Kingdom in 2011, but repaid it with a contempt of London's High Court. The court barred his lawyers from making oral submissions because of their client’s numerous obstructions of justice and sentenced Ablyazov to 22 months in jail for contempt of court for lying about his assets and violating the court's freezing order issued in 2009. Later the court deprived Ablyazov of the right to defend in court.
BTA bank is pursuing Mr Ablyazov in London’s court for misappropriation of at least $6bn from the bank. FT called this case "one of the biggest and most complex fraud cases in banking history".