Kazakhstan: Nazarbayev nephew rendered $1.5Bln to state
Satybaldy has paid the money pending the unfolding of a new array of criminal cases being brought against him.
Kairat Satybaldy, an imprisoned nephew of former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, has to date paid nearly 700 billion tenge (around $1.5 billion) in monies allegedly obtained by illicit means into the state coffers, anti-corruption officials said on February 8.
The scale of the restitution, as the transfer is being described, marks a significant triumph in a campaign by the authorities to recover funds that they say were unlawfully acquired under the watch of Nazarbayev, who stepped down in 2019.
Satybaldy, who is serving a prison sentence for embezzlement, has paid the money pending the unfolding of a new array of criminal cases being brought against him.
The Anti-Corruption Agency, or Antikor, said in its statement that approximately 45 billion tenge were returned recently, adding to an earlier pile of 650 billion tenge. These figures include both cash and other assets. One asset of note was a 30 percent stake in telecommunications company Kazakhtelecom.
Arman Tleukenov, the spokesperson for Antikor, said that an investigation into Satybaldy’s alleged involvement in money-laundering has concluded, and that the case has now been forwarded to the courts. Tleukenov said that illicit funds were used by Satybaldy to acquire various properties, including some abroad.
Satybaldy was arrested in March 2022 at Almaty airport while attempting to flee to Dubai. The following September, he was sentenced to six years in a maximum-security prison for major embezzlement. In addition to his prison sentence, Satybaldy was stripped of his rank as General-Major in the National Security Committee, or KNB, and all his state awards, and banned from holding public office for 10 years.
The onslaught against Nazarbayev’s family began in the wake of the violent unrest that shook the country in January 2022. Even before the dust had settled in that crisis, Tokayev consolidated his own power by removing Nazarbayev from his position as the head of the domestic Security Council.
Since then, the authorities say they have recovered over 912 billion tenge (more than $2 billion) — the bulk of that coming from Satybaldy.
The campaign to reclaim assets may well intensify under a freshly installed government.
On February 6, Tokayev accepted the resignation of Alikhan Smailov as prime minister and appointed former Anti-Corruption Agency chief Olzhas Bektenov in his place. Parliament quickly ratified the move. While short on political experience, Bektenov has earned something of a reputation as a scourge to the Nazarbayev family.
Speaking at a government meeting on February 7, Tokayev emphasized the importance of returning unlawfully obtained assets as a crucial source of investment for the economy. He urged agencies leading that operation to step up their efforts, which he said would be instrumental to implementing significant projects.
Almaz Kumenov is an Almaty-based journalist.