09/26/2022, 11.25
KAZAKHSTAN
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Tokaev's accounts between banks and wars

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Investigation into the ramifications of the Kazakh president's business dealings published. Deals dating back to the time of his predecessor Nazarbaev. The role of his son and a nephew. Astana worried about possible Russian requests for help in Ukraine.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - A group of Swiss journalists has published an investigation that unveils the ramifications of the more or less legal business of the current president of Kazakhstan, Kasym-Žomart Tokaev, standard bearer of a moral and social renewal of the steppe country. When he was a mere 'dauphin of Nazarbaev', the Kazakh head of state owned many shares and administered large sums in the oil and metal extraction sectors through his son Timur, as the Public Eye agency wrote.

The investigation tracks thousands of electronic communications between Tokaev and his son in Russian and English, written between 2006 and 2014, obtained through hacker infiltrations verified by reputable analysts, showing movements in Swiss accounts and shares in offshore companies. Some Kazakh press organs had also recounted a circumstance from 2002, when Timur Tokaev had bought some 50 shares in Abi Petroleum Capital when he was only 18 years old, shortly before his father's resignation as prime minister.

The small oil company had then acquired the licence to exploit oil sites in the Gradovoe and Atyrau regions, and along with Timur was Mukhamed Izbastin, Tokaev's own nephew. The two cousins were in fact only front men for the current president, as the correspondence published by the Swiss shows: in 2012, when Tokaev was director of the UN headquarters in Geneva, he gave directions to his scions to 'expand into other, much more lucrative sectors'.

In another message, Tokaev warns that he 'urgently needs a lot of money' to buy a company linked to an 'influential' branch of the Nazarbaev clan, about 10 million, to which his nephew responds with some perplexity, although he considers it 'a very interesting deal'. It is unclear whether the millions were actually paid out, but other letters also clearly show the connection between the family of the 'president-eternus' Nazarbaev and that of his successor. Some of these correspondences had been published in Kazakhstan by the newspaper Respublika, later closed down on authority, and by the website Kazakhstan 2.0, and there had been no public denials by those involved.

In 2012, Timur had opened an account at the Julius Bär bank in Zurich for the offshore company Edelweiss Resources LLP, which he owned and which was to be the intermediary company for oil transports via the Russian Baltic port of Primorsk. Payments for these transactions are mentioned in a letter from Tokaev, along with other sums possibly in cash that he would have received through his nephew, totalling more than USD 4 million.

There would also be another metallurgical products company, registered in 2007, for the exploitation of the mines in Karaoba and Severnyj Katpar, as well as a factory in Stepnogorsk, where the then president Nazarbayev would have intervened to prevent them from falling into the hands of the Chinese. The operations of these companies reveal financial chasms, the real destination of the committed funds being unknown. The presidency did not provide explanations to journalists' enquiries.

Moreover, Tokaev is particularly under pressure after Putin's announcement of the partial mobilisation that would force a new escalation of the conflict with Ukraine, and could also involve Kazakhstan and the other Csto countries, the military alliance controlled by Moscow. Russia could demand help from its allies to 'defend its territories' being annexed, something it could not do for the invasion manoeuvres, especially remembering the call made by Tokaev in January to quell the Almaty riots, to which the Russians immediately flocked only to be dismissed after a week. And so now Moscow would like to present the bill for services rendered, both by its own military and by its oligarchs, with whom it was sharing the cake until recently.

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