Kazakh business elites who haven’t revealed the source of their wealth and those with money stashed abroad have a new way out, according to President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
(Bloomberg) — Kazakh business elites who haven’t revealed the source of their wealth and those with money stashed abroad have a new way out, according to President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.
“Show that you are ready to invest in the development of the country,” Tokayev told local business leaders at a meeting on Tuesday. “Honest and patriotic businesses will always be held in high esteem and under the protection of the state.”
After crushing last year’s unrest that he called a coup attempt, Tokayev is expanding his sway over the $226 billion economy of the world’s biggest uranium miner following the signing of a law on clawing back assets the government deems illegally obtained.
The agenda that’s emerged after the deadly riots has focused in particular on dismantling the legacy of Tokayev’s long-serving predecessor, Nursultan Nazarbayev.
Among the most prominent members of the former president’s family and inner circle that were targeted by authorities and received the stiffest punishment are Kairat Satybaldyuly, Nazarbayev’s nephew, and Kazakh tycoon Kairat Boranbayev.
Satybaldyuly transferred to the state an almost 29% stake in the national telecommunications operator Kazakhtelecom from prison, before he was incarcerated for six years. Kazakhstan also reclaimed from him and his affiliates more than $500 million in cash and assets.
Boranbayev, who was in the past connected to Nazarbayev’s family, initially received eight years in jail in a decision that was then scrapped by a court of appeals, which also approved his attempt to settle the case.
Since January 2022, the state restored control over assets worth over 760 billion tenge ($1.6 billion), including $575 million from jurisdictions abroad, according to a statement in May from the Prosecutor General’s Office.
Read more: Kazakhstan Takes Back $500m Amid Probe of Ex-President’s Nephew
At Tuesday’s meeting in Astana, the Kazakh president framed the asset recovery law as “an act of public consent.”
“Ultimately, this should improve our economy and prevent social division and disunity,” he said. “Conscientious business, foreign and Kazakh investors, have nothing to fear.”
The alternative to coming clean by investing at home is greater scrutiny of the money, Tokayev warned, saying time is running short.
“If all the previously acquired capital works not only for the benefit of the owner, but also for the benefit of the national economy, for the prosperity of Kazakhstan, that’s a good argument to eliminate questions about the source of the money,” he said. “But the window for such a compromise is rapidly narrowing.”
The president urged commitments to large projects in industries such as metallurgy, chemicals and machine building, which he called investments that “will be considered a serious bid to prove the legality of the origin of the assets.”
“You have the finances, experience, and established connections in global markets,” Tokayev said. “That’s why you are able to work on the implementation of such projects.”
(Updates with legal cases starting in fifth paragraph.)
More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.