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Mukhtar Ablyazov's sprawling networks in the European Parliament




Judicially cornered by several countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, Ukraine and Russia, Moukhtar Abliazov still enjoys the status of political refugee in France. He also enjoys a lot of support in the European Parliament and can count on the intense lobbying carried out by a controversial NGO, the Open Dialogue Foundation (ODF) within the European Parliament, where he advocates his cause. Investigation into the sprawling networks of Mukhtar Abliazov, writes

He is considered the "crook of the century" by the Kazakh government, which accuses him of having embezzled €6 billion from the coffers of the BTA bank, one of the main financial institutions in the country, of which he was president. of the Board of Directors between 2005 and 2009. Sentenced - on several counts - for financial crimes in Kazakhstan, Russia, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, France and the United States.

Moukhtar Ablyazov however enjoys a lot of support in the European Parliament.

Mukhtar Abliyazov involved in numerous financial crime cases

What do Isabel Santos, Ignazio Corrao, Nieklas Nienaß or Anna Fotyga have in common? All members of the European Parliament, on 8 February, 2021, they presented a motion for a resolution condemning the alleged human rights abuses in Kazakhstan, the country of origin of Moukhtar Abliazov. The resolution is finally adopted on 11 February, 2021 in the European Parliament and takes the form of a symbolic condemnation of the country. A small victory for Moukhtar Abliazov, in open war, for more than ten years, with the capacity in place. The opportunity for him to strengthen his posture as a political refugee martyred by the Kazakh power, which he regularly claims in the European press.

In the newspaper Le Monde, on 6 May, he denounced the "duplicity of Paris with the regime  of Kazakhstan and considers himself the victim of harassment on the part of Kazakh agents", who would monitor him permanently. If he denies or remains evasive on all the facts with which he is accused, the condemnations are piling up in different countries, however little suspected of having common strategic interests between them or with Kazakhstan.

In Russia, he is accused of committing $5 billion in financial embezzlement. In Ukraine, where the charges relate to "fictitious loans, embezzlement, lack of collateral and the creation of off-shore companies  ", the alleged financial embezzlement amounted to only "$400 million" for facts committed at the end of the 2000s. In Great Britain, he was notably ordered in November 2012 to pay $4.5bn in damages to the BTA bank. In France, if he has been indicted since 7 October, 2020, he still enjoys the status of political refugee since 29 September 2020 and the decision of the National Court of Asylum (CNDA).


The European Parliament and its links with the Open Dialogue Foundation

A heavy legal liability that does not prevent him from counting support in the European Parliament, through the Open Dialogue Foundation (ODF), which leads active lobbying in its favor in the mysteries of the community. Moukhtar Ablyazov sometimes even appears in family with certain MEPs. At least nine parliamentarians, signatories of the resolution, have, in recent years, participated in events organized by the ODF or have met Mukhtar Ablyazov.

A resolution passed by the European Parliament, hostile to Kazakhstan, reveals the influence of pro-Ablyazov lobbies in the European Parliament. The resolution is the result of a mobilization of MEPs, opposing political groups, ranging from the conservative right to the radical left: conservatives from the European People's Party, social democrats, environmentalists from the Greens / EFA or even a liberal. of the Renew Groupsigned this resolution. Several lines of evidence suggest that it was born from the insidious influence of several relatives of Moukhtar Ablyazov, in particular grouped within the Open Dialogue Foundation, a disputed NGO, at the heart of many suspicions of funding by the intelligence services. Russian, of links with mechanisms of money laundering and with several sulphurous personalities. Through events, often organized in the premises of the European Parliament, the ODF weaves its web and broadens its network of parliamentarians.

On Sunday 21 April 2019, a Times article suggested that £1.5million had disappeared from the accounts of companies registered in Glasgow and Edinburgh to transit to those at the headquarters of the Open Dialogue Foundation, headquartered in Warsaw. In November 2018, a Moldovan parliamentary inquiry highlighted the possibility of close links between the ODF and Russian intelligence services regarding activities to destabilize the Moldovan regime. An accusation that echoes another report, published by the Polish Chamber of Commerce , dated July 2017, highlighting the supply of military equipment to secessionist rebels in Donbass (infrared sights for snipers and bulletproof vests).

In addition, most of the personalities at the heart of the Open Dialogue Foundation's pleas have been convicted of financial crimes in their country. Among them, Veaceslav Platon, Moldavian-Russian businessman, the supposed architect of a great movement of remittances outside Russia via money laundering, or Aslan Gagiyev, founder of The Family, a mafia group. involved in contract murders, such as that of the mayor of Vladikavkaz.

Signatory MEPs from different political groups in the European Parliament

Several of the parliamentarians who drafted the motion for a resolution have, at one time or another, assumed their links with senior members of the Open Dialogue Foundation, Mukthar Ablyazov himself or members of his family, and even others. Kazakh personalities involved in financial crime cases. Interpersonal ties most often documented by the ODF itself, a sign that it is fully claiming its influence in the European Parliament.

Among the signatories of this motion are Isabel Santos, Portuguese Socialist MP, member of the Socialist and Democrat group in the European Parliament, pictured with Lyudmyla Kozlovska, President of the Open Dialogue Foundation. She is, for the Social Democrats Group, at the origin of this resolution, along with two other deputies, Kati Piri and Andris Ameriks.

Isabel Santos took part in a conference of the Open Dialogue Foundation, held on October 9, 2014, on the theme of “the misuse of Interpol” (photo below), one of the great fights of the ODF, because several of the individuals it defends are the subject of a "red notice", produced by one of the member states of Interpol.

Credit - Open Dialogue Foundation

Similar links have been identified for several MEPs from the Les Verts / European Free Alliance group. Viola von Cramon-Tauhadel (right, below) was photographed with Lyudmyla Kozlovska, during an event organized on November 26, 2019 by the Open Dialogue Foundation and the Center for Civil Liberties (CCL). She sits next to him at an event celebrating Oleg Sentsov (left, below), a former Russian political prisoner and Sakharov Prize recipient.

Credit - Open Dialogue Foundation

The event, as claimed by the Open Dialogue Foundation, also included in its ranks Petras Auštrevičius, a Lithuanian MP from the liberal group Renew Europe (left in the photo below). Also close to Lyudmyla Kozlovska, he was photographed with her and is one of the signatories of the motion for a resolution.

Credit - Open Dialogue Foundation

Close to the Greens - ALE group, the Greek deputy Niklas Nienaß was photographed with Lyudmyla Kozlovska and Bota Jardemalie, also concerned by the courts of Kazakhstan. Again, the event was organized by the ODF. Bota Jardemalie (third from right, photo below) was also a member of the board of directors of BTA bank, where she met Moukhtar Ablyazov between 2005 and 2009, serving as managing director. An article in the Belgian newspaper Le Soir, dated 12 August 2020, reveals that it has evaded a freeze of its assets by the English justice by using the accounts of an offshore company.

Credit - Open Dialogue Foundation

Ignazio Carrao, Italian MP, member of the Greens group was pictured with Moukhtar Ablyazov's wife, Alma Shalabayeva (photo below, bottom left).

The deputies who signed the motion hostile to Kazakhstan sometimes directly display their links with Mukhtar Ablyazov, such as Anna Fotyga, conservative and Eurosceptic MEP, member of the Polish Law and Justice party. Mukhtar Ablyazov's daughter is also pictured, to her father's right. Here again, Anna Fotyga is a signatory of the resolution.

Contested, the Open Dialog Foundation claims its lobbying activities within the transparency register of the European Union. Its raison d'être is, according to the European Commission, "the organization of observation missions, including the observation of elections and the monitoring of the human rights situation in post-Soviet countries". But it also seems to practice the dissemination of “turnkey” resolutions to certain parliamentarians, a method which questions the influence of certain NGOs, sometimes controversial, within European institutions.

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