By Dr Shahid Qureshi: –
While speaking at the Eurasia Media Forum in Astana on 23 June 2017, I said to the Israeli delegate in the panel that “You have not included into your list of root causes of terrorism and that is the issue of ‘terrorist financing’, corruption and role of offshore safe heavens (banks) as well as corrupt Swiss banking system that allow terrorists to continue”. He smiled and agreed with the comment in the conversation former US ambassador to UN and Governor of Mexico Bill Richardson fully agreed with comment and said: ‘I agree with Dr (Shahid Qureshi)”.
What we did not realise that Kazakhstan is also a victim of corruption, dodgy swiss banking system and so called tax free off shore safe heavens.
As we say the tradition of loving the motherland from abroad has swept the runaway criminal officials like the flu during the epidemic. Moreover, such an effect of such ‘painful love’ always comes from the oversleeping temperature of democratization of each fugitive. Viktor Khrapunov, who in Kazakhstan is accused of corruption, fraud and money laundering, is very fond of teaching democracy, burning money from his homeland in Switzerland.
One of the slogans written on the official website of the ‘democrat Khrapunov’ says that the author ‘stands for the active political participation of the inhabitants of the Republic in making decisions concerning their own future. I am convinced that Switzerland can become an example for countries that have recently embarked on the path of democracy’.
This courtesy towards Switzerland is understandable – it is where his family live today. And it is there that the Khrapunovs are listed among the richest people in the country. It seems they have robbed money and values from the people of Kazakhstan. One cannot be thief and a saint at the same time? They are actually wolves in the sheep skin who stole money from the people of Kazakhstan.
At home, the former mayor of the largest city of Kazakhstan V. Khrapunov was found guilty of causing damage to the state in the amount of at least 300 million USD. He has 20 criminal cases initiated against him, and V. Khrapunov himself has long been on the international wanted list through Interpol in connection with the accusations of money laundering, fraud, organization of a criminal group, abuse of power, and bribery.
The cunning official worked out very interesting schemes for the withdrawal of funds from Kazakhstan. He through the firm of his wife and a host of other offshore companies acquired property, including real estate, in Switzerland and the United States.
The company of his wife and son (himself V. Khrapunov is listed as a poor Swiss pensioner) is famous in Lausanne for large-scale development projects. Where, judging by the results of the investigation, ‘part’ of the money, taken from the RK during the mayoral period of V. Khrapunov, ‘merges’. These are bribes-kickbacks in the construction of a new terminal at the airport in Almaty, deals with the Belgian company Tractebel to sell the city’s energy complex, as well as illegal transfer of municipal land to private ownership.
But with the United States the Khrapunovs got a problem. The fact is that the American Themselves, having checked the claims of the Kazakh side, has long ago seized the property of a runaway family. And there she owns several villas. And now there are courts on charges of the Khrapunovs in laundering proceeds and even bribes to the top leadership of the United States.
Since the property was purchased not directly in the name of V.Khrapunov, but on legal entities through offshore companies, it takes some time to search for irrefutable evidence of the ownership of real estate and everything else in the US it is affluent Kazakh official. But judging by the attitudes of US prosecutors, these evidences are gradually gaining tangible outlines.
However, something that is already known. At least three companies used for money laundering from Kazakhstan by V. Khrapunov and Co. Soho 3310, Soho 3311 and Soho 3203. Since each of these companies are a limited liability company, it is easy to hide the real ownership.
But that’s surprising: a week after the creation, these firms paid more than three million USD for the purchase of an elite apartment in Manhattan, which suddenly turned out to be the property of the Khrapunovs.
The US authorities also found out that the ultimate beneficiary of the company ‘Soho’ was Elvira Kudryashova, daughter of V. Khrapunova. She also paid to the New York law firm Martin Ian, who became an agent and an intermediary in all transactions of the company ‘Soho’.
In addition, the family of the Khrapunovs worked in conjunction with another well-known (this time already the entire world) swindler – Mukhtar Ablyazov. The investigation in Kazakhstan and the UK found that Khrapunov’s son Ilyas is married to the daughter of M. Ablyazov. So it is quite logical that the former banker M. Ablyazov drew a relative to the case of a clean criminal prosecution.
And it was made simple. I. Khrapunov was the owner of the group of companies ‘Swiss Development Group’, which was created on the money stolen by V. Khrapunov from Kazakhstan. The company itself was looking for prospective investment projects, and their financing. It was for such projects that funds were transferred that fraudulently left Kazakhstan, Russia and Ukraine, where the branches of BTA Bank owned by M. Ablyazov were located.
Pumping the company I. Khrapunov with Ablyazov’s money allowed scammers to implement very large and prestigious real estate projects: Kempinski Park, Residences in Chardonnay, 51 Degres in Los Les Bains, Pinnacle Residence in Saas Fee, hotel Iglo in France, the Rockefeller Estates company (sale of real estate), Rockefeller Living (Owners Club). In general, specializing in investing in five-star hotels-condominiums, private hotels in Switzerland and other countries, scammers managed to turn stolen funds into expensive and ‘clean’ goods.
Well, in general, the Khrapunovs did not really bother to save money stolen on corruption in Kazakhstan – almost all of them were turned into real estate, shares or new investment companies using frontmen. Coupled with Ablyazov’s millions turned out to be a good family capital which today allows not only to comfortably live a simple Swiss pensioner V. Khrapunov, but from time to time to play a good face in a bad game – to talk about democracy in a country that he robbed and from whose justice he preferred to hide in neutral Switzerland.
(Dr Shahid Qureshi is senior analyst with BBC and chief editor of The London Post. He writes on security, terrorism and foreign policy. He also appears as analyst on Al-Jazeera, Press TV, MBC, Kazak TV (Kazakhstan), LBC Radio London. He was also international election observer for Kazakhstan 2015 and 2016 and Pakistan 2002. He has written a famous book “War on Terror and Siege of Pakistan” published in 2009. He wrote his MA thesis on ‘Political Thought of Imam Khomeini’ and visited Tehran University. He is PhD in ‘Political Psychology’ also studied Law at a British University. He also speaks at Cambridge University)
Disclaimer Views expressed are not of The Central Asia Post