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The “full story” of Mukhtar Ablyazov

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It has been described by some as “fraud on an epic scale” and, now, the “full story” of Mukhtar Ablyazov has been put in print.

To those unfamiliar with the said Mr Ablyazov, he is an individual who has certainly attracted his share of attention in recent years.

The problem for him is that a lot of this publicity has not been very favourable.

Now, a new book by the UK-born journalist/publisher Gary Cartwright claims to shed new light on the somewhat murky world inhabited by Mr Ablyazov and his many associates.

The redoubtable Cartwright, a former staffer in the European Parliament, certainly cannot be accused of not doing the works on a man whose recent fortunes make the travails of Donald Trump appear lightweight by comparison.

With the ninth anniversary of his "flight from the authorities" in his homeland of Kazakhstan fast approaching, the raft of transnational court cases involving Mr Ablyazov show no sign of abating.

“Wanted Man: The story of Mukhtar Ablyazov”, penned by Cartwright, tells the shady story of a mega rich man that stretches from his homeland to the United Kingdom onto France and to U.S President Trump himself.

Welcome  to the murky world of Mukhtar Ablyazov.

Accordng to Cartwright, nowadays mostly based in Belgium, this is a criminal mastermind, a man facing a miscellaneous assortment of allegations.

First, a bit of history: Mr Ablyazov was appointed as head of the state-owned Kazakhstan Electricity Grid Operating Company (KEGOC) and named Minister for Energy, Industry, and Trade in Kazakhstan. Within a year, KECOG revenues  were reportedly down by 12 percent and expenditure up by 53 percent, a pattern repeated in 1999 when he was named CEO of Air Kazakhstan.

After falling foul of the authorities, Mr Ablyazov, the book recalls, took flight from his homeland to claim asylum in the UK where he settled into opulent Carlton House on Billionaire’s Row in Highgate, London.

Cartwright says that Mr Ablyazov was soon on the run again, this time from British justice. Despite an arrest warrant having been issued, he managed to slip away to France.

In his absence, between November 2012 and March 2013,  the book says that British courts passed judgments against Mr Ablyazov, with Lord Justice Maurice Kay observing that: “It is difficult to imagine a party to commercial litigation who has acted with more cynicism, opportunism and deviousness towards court orders than Mr Ablyazov.”

After being warned of risks of kidnapping or assassination several times by various sources, including the British police, went into hiding, moving between luxury villas in the south of France. Along the way, the book says that the saga even reached the hallowed corridors of the European parliament.

Today, from his villa in France, Ablyazov continues to complain of his “persecution”.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of this tangled tale, there is no denying Cartwright’s determination to try to get to the bottom of this startling story.

The story, in some ways, is not particularly new as Mr Ablyazov’s tortuous journey through various member states’ judicial systems and, more importantly, those who were left in its wake, is quite well known.

But Cartwright, who interviewed scores of people and invested  hundreds of hours of research in compiling this work, certainly deserves full credit for trying to get to the heart of the staggering fall from grace of this former top Kazakh minister.

Economy

Issuance of green bonds will strengthen the international role of the euro

Catherine Feore

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Eurogroup ministers discussed the international role of the euro (15 February), following the publication of the European Commission's communication of (19 January), ‘The European economic and financial system: fostering strength and resilience’.

President of the Eurogroup, Paschal Donohoe said: “The aim is to reduce our dependence on other currencies, and to strengthen our autonomy in various situations. At the same time, increased international use of our currency also implies potential trade-offs, which we will continue to monitor. During the discussion, ministers emphasized the potential of green bond issuance to enhance the use of the euro by the markets while also contributing to achieving our climate transition objective.”

The Eurogroup has discussed the issue several times in recent years since the December 2018 Euro Summit. Klaus Regling, the managing director of the European Stability Mechanism said that overreliance on the dollar contained risks, giving Latin America and the Asian crisis of the 90s as examples. He also referred obliquely to “more recent episodes” where the dollar’s dominance meant that EU companies could not continue to work with Iran in the face of US sanctions. Regling believes that the international monetary system is slowly moving towards a multi-polar system where three or four currencies will be important, including the dollar, euro and renminbi. 

European Commissioner for the Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, agreed that the euro’s role could be strengthened through the issuance of green bonds enhancing the use of the euro by the markets while also contributing to achieving our climate objectives of the Next Generation EU funds.

Ministers agreed that broad action to support the international role of the euro, encompassing progress on amongst other things, Economic and Monetary Union, Banking Union and Capital Markets Union were needed to secure the euros international role.

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EU

European human rights court backs Germany over Kunduz airstrike case

Reuters

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An investigation by Germany into a deadly 2009 airstrike near the Afghan city of Kunduz that was ordered by a German commander complied with its right-to-life obligations, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday (16 February), writes .

The ruling by the Strasbourg-based court rejects a complaint by Afghan citizen Abdul Hanan, who lost two sons in the attack, that Germany did not fulfil its obligation to effectively investigate the incident.

In September 2009, the German commander of NATO troops in Kunduz called in a U.S. fighter jet to strike two fuel trucks near the city which NATO believed had been hijacked by Taliban insurgents.

The Afghan government said at the time 99 people, including 30 civilians, were killed. Independent rights groups estimated between 60 and 70 civilians were killed.

The death toll shocked Germans and ultimately forced its defence minister to resign over accusations of covering up the number of civilian casualties in the run-up to Germany’s 2009 election.

Germany’s federal prosecutor general had found that the commander did not incur criminal liability, mainly because he was convinced when he ordered the airstrike that no civilians were present.

For him to be liable under international law, he would have had to be found to have acted with intent to cause excessive civilian casualties.

The European Court of Human Rights considered the effectiveness of Germany’s investigation, including whether it established a justification for lethal use of force. It did not consider the legality of the airstrike.

Of 9,600 NATO troops in Afghanistan, Germany has the second-largest contingent behind the United States.

A 2020 peace agreement between the Taliban and Washington calls for foreign troops to withdraw by May 1, but U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is reviewing the deal after a deterioration in the security situation in Afghanistan.

Germany is preparing to extend the mandate for its military mission in Afghanistan from March 31 until the end of this year, with troop levels remaining at up to 1,300, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.

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EU

Digitalization of EU justice systems: Commission launches public consultation on cross-border judicial co-operation

EU Reporter Correspondent

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On 16 February, the European Commission launched a public consultation on the modernization of EU justice systems. The EU aims to support member states in their efforts to adapt their justice systems to the digital age and improve EU cross-border judicial co-operation. Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders (pictured) said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the importance of digitalization, including in the field of justice. Judges and lawyers need digital tools to be able to work together faster and more efficiently.

At the same time, citizens and businesses need online tools for an easier and more transparent access to justice at a lower cost. The Commission strives to push this process forward and support member states in their efforts, including as regards facilitating their cooperation in cross-border judicial procedures by using digital channels.” In December 2020, the Commission adopted a communication outlining the actions and initiatives intended to advance the digitalization of justice systems across the EU.

The public consultation will gather views on the digitalization of EU cross-border civil, commercial and criminal procedures. The results of the public consultation, in which a broad range of groups and individuals can participate and which is available here until 8 May 2021, will feed into an initiative on digitalisation of cross-border judicial cooperation expected at the end of this year as announced in the 2021 Commission's Work Programme.

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