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How Faked Documents Ensnared A Billionaire In Kazakhgate Scandal

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When the billionaire Patokh Chodiev was named as part of a Belgian political scandal it created a media frenzy but a new investigation has revealed that the affair may have been based on fake documents.

The Kazakhgate scandal rocked the political elites of Belgium and France and triggered enormous media coverage but a report published by the French investigative magazine Mediapart has found that on at least three occasions documents relating to the case were faked.

Without these fakes it is unlikely that the affair would have erupted in the same way, or that it would have damaged Chodiev’s reputation.

The scandal dates back to the early 1990s when Chodiev and his partners, who created a successful mining company in Kazakhstan, settled in Belgium and took citizenship. The Belgian authorities launched an investigation into some real estate transactions and Chodiev and his partners were charged for breaching financial laws.

The case dragged on for 16 years but was eventually settled in 2011 after Belgium had introduced a new plea bargain law. Chodiev and his partners paid a fee and the case was settled with no admittance of guilt.

It was subsequently claimed that Belgium politicians had introduced the new plea bargain law, and applied it to the Chodiev case, after coming under pressure from the French, who wanted the businessman’s help in securing a big aerospace contract with Kazakhstan. Belgium’s media were outraged that their country’s laws may have been influenced by French officials who wanted to land a big manufacturing deal.

The evidence for this alleged quid-pro-quo deal came from email exchanges between Jean-Francois Etienne des Rosaies, an adviser to the French President, and Claude Guéant, chief of staff to the President.

In the emails, Des Rosaies writes that the legal team arranged for Chodiev by the French had successfully concluded the case with the help of a Belgian senator, Armand de Decker.

These allegations were sufficiently serious that the Belgian parliament launched an inquiry into the affair. In testimony to the Parliamentary Inquiry Committee (PIC), Guéant disputed the authenticity of the Des Rosaies emails and said he had no recollection of receiving them. He stated that French assistance to Chodiev went only so far as introducing him to a new lawyer, Catherine Degoul. Degoul then hired Senator De Decker without Chodiev’s knowledge.

Des Rosaies has also filed a complaint stating that the email was a forgery and the PIC found there had been no improper influence over the introduction of the plea bargain law.

Another fake appeared soon after in 2013 when Le Vif reported that a French diplomat called Damien Loras had received a gold Jacquet Droz watch worth €44,000 as a gift from Chodiev. Loras had been part of the Élysée team tasked with helping Chodiev in Belgium.

The newspaper published a copy of the receipt for the watch allegedly bought by Chodiev at Kronometry 1999 in Paris. The implication appears to have been that Chodiev was attempting to bribe a French official to help him in the Belgian case.

However, the receipt is a fake and uses a different letterhead and format to those issued by Kronometry. According to Mediapart: “Somebody went to significant effort to create a fake receipt in order to implicate Chodiev and Loras in a supposedly corrupt relationship.”

Yet another fake appears to have triggered a separate part of the Kazakhgate scandal. It was reported that Chodiev had inappropriately obtained Belgian citizenship in the 1990s and this claim was also investigated by the Belgian Parliamentary Inquiry Committee (PIC).

The PIC found that two police reports had been filed in relation to Chodiev’s citizenship application. The first report was by a police sergeant who recommended a delay based on information provided by the State Security Service on Chodiev’s unproven links to the Russian mafia.
The other report was supposedly written by Michel Vanderwalle, commissioner of the Waterloo Police, and gave a positive report on Chodiev. It was claimed that Chodiev had persuaded a Belgian politician to put pressure on Vanderwalle to write the positive report.

Both of these reports appear designed to cause Chodiev problems and, in testimony to the Parliamentary inquiry, Vanderwalle confirmed that both were forgeries.

The Belgian intelligence committee has also expressed doubts about the authenticity of the two police reports and the PIC concluded that Chodiev had been granted citizenship properly.

These documents triggered a political scandal that appears to have been built on lies and fakes. As Mediapart noted, if the underlying documents in this affair are fakes this raises questions over who created them and why they went to so much effort?

It appears that shadowy players in Europe and Kazakhstan have taken advantage of the media’s willingness to publish faked documents in order to damage the reputations of leading politicians and businessmen.

 

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Will mobile gaming continue to thrive in 2021?

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(Image via https://twitter.com/thefxtec)

Mobile phone gaming has never been so good. The games now on offer are more advanced than ever before, as are the phones we’re able to play them on. As a result, a large part of the world’s population is putting more energy into gaming on their mobile phone devices than ever before.

Many experts and gaming fans didn’t think mobile gaming would stand the test of time, particularly with the newly released Playstation 5 coming out. Surely the more sophisticated and graphically advanced games that a console of that type can host appeals more than playing a smartphone game with clear and obvious limitations? Apparently not. In fact, mobile gaming looks like it is very much here to not only survive but also thrive in 2021 and beyond.

Of course, for some, mobile gaming is simply incomparable to console gaming of any kind. In contrast, for others, the realisation that mobile phone gaming is here to stay is becoming a very real one. But why is this? Why is mobile gaming expected to kick on further in 2021? Here are a few reasons as to why.

Gaming on the go

Virtually everyone on the planet has a mobile phone these days, therefore opening up an array of entertainment possibilities in the process. Gaming on a phone is one of them as you have access to a comprehensive selection of games within a matter of seconds. The games on offer are diverse too, from the likes of blackjack online at Mansion Casino to brain teaser creations, coupled with more graphically advanced games like Fortnite PUBG Mobile. Then there’s augmented reality releases like Pokemon Go, too. These are the type of games which can be picked up and put down with ease. Console gaming, on the other hand, requires much more of a commitment. The games are generally a lot tougher, which, as a result, could put casual gamers off. Mobile games can be enjoyed on the go, while on the bus or on your lunch break. There’s a mobile phone game for an array of audiences too, opening gaming on a phone up to the masses.

Console-quality titles

Thanks to the continued advancements made with our mobile phone devices, the games we now have at our disposal are better than ever. Gaming options of old used to be with the likes of Tetris and Snake; now we’re inundated with releases on a weekly basis as games developers look to crack what is a humongous market. So much so, in fact, that many games companies make sure they release the mobile version of games simultaneously with the PC and console versions of games, once again highlighting the influence mobile phone gaming has had on the overall gaming landscape. On top of this, the gaming experience on a mobile device has improved dramatically also, with joysticks and VR headsets being used to help get the best out of specific mobile creations.

(Image via https://twitter.com/NinplayUK)

Cheap and free games

Console gaming isn’t cheap. When you factor in the cost of a console before even adding up the cost of purchasing a few games to go with it, it could be argued that it’s extortionate. In fact, many people have strayed away from console gaming for this very reason, especially when they realise they can get their gaming fix from their smartphone. All you need is access to Appstore or Google Play, and you’re good to go, with the option of trying out a whole host of creations without spending any money at all. Most mobile games are either cheap or completely free, therefore making them accessible to all.

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London businesses call for swift action to safeguard Eurostar's future

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London’s business leaders have written to the government asking it to ensure that the green gateway to Europe is safeguarded. A copy of the letter is published below.

 

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The best of 5G is yet to come  

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Executives from leading mobile operators have urged consumers to be patient with 5G, explaining more advanced capabilities and use cases will become available as the technology evolves.

Speaking at the recent industry conference CES 2021, Drew Blackard, VP of product management at Samsung Electronics America (SEA), told a panel that many current services including video streaming are merely “better on 5G”.

But he added more advanced “only-on-5G experiences” will become mainstream “more and more as the infrastructure develops” and the technology becomes more widely used.

Blackard noted SEA had “done a lot of development with partners to build out what these can look like”, pointing to a collaboration with AT&T to offer AR experiences for sports fans.

Ice Mobility chairman and co-founder Denise Gibson added “there is an element of patience” to realising 5G’s potential.

She said 5G “is a platform that will evolve”, explaining “it’s not solely about” geographic reach, but also provision of advanced capabilities and services on networks and devices.

Blackard added “partnerships are obviously essential”, noting 5G required “a group, an industry to bring that forward. It’s not a single player that can do that”.

Commenting on the issue Abraham Lui, Huawei's Chief Representative to the EU Institutions,  said  "In Europe, the best of 5G is yet to come. As 5G deployment gathers pace across the continent, users will appreciate the benefits of this game-changing technology in the near future".

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