Briton Faces Down Kyrgyzstan's Most Wanted Exile
A British court has begun reviewing a civil case involving the youngest son of Kyrgyzstan’s most recently deposed president, who stands accused of attempting to murder a British businessman during his time at the helm of the country’s economy.
Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s widely loathed progeny, Maxim Bakiyev, is being sued by Sean Daley, who was representing the interests of the London-listed Oxus Gold company that held the license for the country’s second largest gold mine in 2006 when he was shot by gunmen he claims were acting under Maxim's orders.
Unsurprisingly, Bakiyev Jr, who Britain’s Daily Mail tabloid referred to alternately as “Bakiyez,” in a piece on proceedings that began June 23, did not show up at the case’s first hearing.
Daley claims to have suffered permanent damage from the shooting in Kyrgyzstan, where he was an established member of the expatriate community and had a local wife, and notes that one of the bullets fired by unknown hitmen is still lodged in his liver.
But achieving victory in court will likely require Daley’s legal team to convince a British judge that a Kyrgyz court ruling that sentenced Bakiyev to life for the same crime in 2014 is not politicized, as Maxim's legal team has predictably claimed.
Oxus Gold was strong-armed out of its title to Jerooy, which has since been a hotbed of legal battles and political rancour, in the same year as the shooting took place.
Bakiyev — accused in Kyrgyzstan of everything from mass money-laundering to fomenting deadly unrest after his father’s ouster — has reportedly settled into a plush suburban lifestyle in Surrey, one of the counties that fringe London, and a house worth over $5 million.
Anti-corruption watchdog Global Witness has claimed Bakiyev may be eligible for British citizenship this month, although it is unclear whether or not he obtained it in time to vote in Britain’s much-hyped referendum on leaving the European Union.
The future of the Jerooy gold mine, a potential motor for the struggling economy, is another intangible.
The ill-fated 80-ton deposit is supposed under Bakiyev’s watch to have passed through the hands of two ex-Soviet oligarchs — Boris Berezovsky and Badri Patarkatsishvili, both of whom are now dead.
Clearly oblivious to curses, a company controlled by Russian businessman of Chechen extraction Musa Bazhaev bid for and won the license in 2015.
Bazhayev’s Russian Platinum firm have done little to develop the mine so far, however, and Bazhaev has a reputation in Russia for sitting on mining licenses rather than actually getting gold out of the ground.
But the company did recently strike a deal for finance with the Eurasian Development Bank chaired by Russia’s former Deputy finance minister and charged with driving major economic projects in the countries of the Moscow-led Eurasian Economic Union.
“Jerooy will be a significant contribution to Kyrgyzstan's socioeconomic development and will promote cooperation between the Eurasian Economic Union countries," Bazhaev said after the conclusion of a deal that could see $200 million in EDB finance put towards a processing plant and other infrastructure at the mine.
In another indication that he has friends in the right places, a man purported to be Bazhaev featured in a 2015 conversation with the then-head of Kyrgyzstan’s GKNB security service that leaked onto the internet last month.
In the alleged recording, the pair were discussing security issues in the western Talas region where the mine is located and where hostile local communities pose the biggest long-term stumbling block to progress at the deposit.
Russian Platinum last year reportedly reached an out-of-court settlement with Visor Holding, a Kazakh company that had held the license for Jerooy prior to the new government expropriating it following the 2010 revolution that ejected the Bakiyevs.