- Kazakhstan pilots remain behind bars in Thailand for allegedly smuggling North Korean weapons that were supposedly headed to Iran. (also see fantasy island)
- Kazakhstan is "Israel's partner in Eurasia."
- Kazakhstan's next-door neighbor, Kyrgystan, has seen some excitement lately, for instance in the form of journalists mysteriously being bound with duct tape and thrown from buildings.
Kazakhstan is a big place, far away, private, strategically located, full of natural resources, and not so full of people. If you've been following along, you will immediately see the attraction. Generally speaking, from the perspective of those who value power and natural resources over people, Kazakhstan is a turn-key operation.
This may explain why Kazakhstan is "Israel's partner in Eurasia," as well as why the capital city, Astana, has been built in New World Order Fantasy style.
Timur Kulibayev married President Nazarbayev's daughter, Dinara.
An intelligent and ambitious President and CEO of the KMG group since June 2006, Kulibayev is married to President Nazarbayev's second daughter Dinara. Until his promotion, he used to be KMG's first vice president of KMG. In his 30s, he began his career in the finance ministry's division which was once in charge of the petroleum sector. In March 1997, as Nazarbayev made Balgimbayev president of KazakhOil, the latter made Kulibayev the financial boss and vice president of the company. The oil and gas firms then were transferred from the finance ministry to KazakhOil.In September 2009, for instance, Kulibayev entered into discussions with Azerbaijan about possible oil transport routes through Azerbaijan and Georgia to the Black Sea.
Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan are discussing the possibility of opening new routes to transport Kazakh oil. "Yesterday we held talks with Azerbaijan's national oil and gas company, and agreed to carry out research on transporting Kazakh oil through Azerbaijan and Georgia to the Black Sea," the chairman of the Kazenergy association, Timur Kulibayev, told a news conference held within the Kazakh energy week in Astana today. Kulibayev said that the matter concerned possible construction of a new pipeline within the existing Baku-Supsa corridor.This week Kulibayev sued several Kazakh papers for libel after the published a letter from an exiled Kazakh banker accusing him of corruption.
In the letter, former banker Mukhtar Ablyazov accused Kulibayev of pocketing a portion of proceeds from the sale of a government stake in a Kazakh oil company to a state Chinese major. The government sold the stake for $150 million in 2003....Kulibayev, 43, is deputy chief executive of Kazakhstan's powerful state welfare fund Samruk-Kazyna which controls key state companies such as energy firm KazMunaiGas [KMG.UL]. Kulibayev and his wife indirectly own a 41.8 percent stake in Kazakhstan's second-largest bank, London-listed Halyk (HSBKq.L) HSBK.KZ.
The exiled politician who made the allegation, Mukhar Ablyazov, once Kazakhstan's energy minister, used to run another Kazakh bank, BTA BTAS.KZ, until early 2009. The state accused Ablyazov of fraud last year, blaming him for part of BTA's losses which exceeded $8 billion. Ablyazov, who has since left Kazakhstan, has denied any wrongdoing. BTA has since been nationalised.
Kazakh officials seized copies of the offending newspapers.
ALMATY -- Kazakh officials have seized editions of at least five opposition and independent newspapers that contain an article alleging corruption by President Nursultan Nazarbaev's son-in-law, Timur Kulibaev, who is suing the newspapers, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.
An Almaty district court ordered the seizure of the newspapers after Kulibaev filed a libel lawsuit against the publications "Respublika," "Golos Respubliki" (Voice of the Republic), "Vzglyad" (Glance), "Kursiv," and "Kursiv-News."
The court also banned any reports "damaging the dignity and honor of Timur Kulibaev." Kulibaev is an executive in many of Kazakhstan's energy-sector businesses.
All of the impounded newspapers had printed a statement by former Kazakh businessman Mukhtar Ablyazov, who accused Kulibaev of corruption on several websites last week.
Ablyazov, who left Kazakhstan for London in 2009 after his BTA Bank was taken over by the government, stated that he had sent open letters to Chinese President Hu Jintao, China's prosecutor-general, and the state security minister urging them to look into the companies involved in an allegedly corrupt deal with Kazakhstan.
Ablyazov claimed in the letter that when the Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) agreed several years ago to buy shares of Kazakhstan's AqtobeMunayGaz oil and gas company, Kulibaev made CNPC create an offshore company.
Ablyazov said that 49 percent of the off-shore company's shares were sold to Darley Investment Services -- which is controlled by Kulibaev -- for $49. Ablyazov claims that CNPC and some of its branches then bought the shares back from Darley Investment Services for $165.9 million.
Could Kulibayev be corrupt?
According to News of the World in March 2008, Timur Kulibayev fathered a "love child" with a woman named Goga Ashkenazi (also known as Gaukhar Berkalieva). Ms. Ashkenazi has also dated Prince Andrew. (candid photos)
PRINCE Andrew had an intimate date with a society beauty just 72 HOURS after she gave birth to Timur Kulibayev's lovechild, the News of the World can reveal. The Duke of York and sultry Goga Ashkenazi enjoyed a three-hour dinner at his favourite Chinese restaurant. It is not known if Andrew was aware that his Kazakhstan-born companion, the secret mistress of married Russian oil tycoon Timur Kulibayev, had just given birth.
And after the meal, 28-year-old Goga told pals: "I have every girl's dream—a prince on one arm and a billionaire on the other."
Kulibayev, 41, has a £1.2billion fortune and is married to the daughter of Kazakhstan's President. Goga gave birth to his son, Adam Berkaliev, at London's Great Portland Street hospital on December 27. Three days later, she arrived for dinner with Andrew in Ascot, Berks, in a chauffeur-driven £137,000 Bentley Continental Flying Spur.
..."We all knew that Andrew gave her unbeatable social status and was a valuable business contact too. "But in the romance stakes he is neither as powerful nor anywhere near as rich as Mr Kulibayev. I don't think he comes close." Andrew, 48—who gets a £250,000 a year allowance from the Queen— counts Goga as a "dear friend" and even introduced her to his mother at Ascot races last summer.
...The dusky brunette—whose real name is Gaukhar Berkalieva—was born in Kazakhstan in 1980 and educated in England from the age of 13. Her mother Saule Aralbayeva lives with her in Surrey. Goga has mixed with the wealthiest men in society since she was a teenager. Formula One supremo Flavio Briatore fell for her in 2002 and introduced her to the international playboy jet-set.
...Briatore, 57, is reported to have dumped Goga her discovering she was not, as he thought, the daughter of Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev. After that Goga fell for Kulibayev, who controls access to Kazakhstan's vast untapped reserves of crude oil. It was hoped her friendship with Prince Andrew would please the tycoon and help generate investment in his oilfields. The prince travelled to Kazakhstan in October last year looking to promote links with the UK's North Sea oil industry.
...In contrast to her flirty style with Prince Andrew, Goga is said to be very respectful of Kulibayev. He was widely tipped, until recently, to be the hand-picked successor of President Nazarbayev. Despite his high profile and politically significant marriage to the president's daughter, he and Goga registered the birth of their son together in London last month. They went to Westminster Council's register office on February 5, taking Goga's maiden name as their boy's surname. The father is named on the birth certificate as Timur Askarovich Kulibayev and his profession is listed as "entrepreneur".
Goga has one failed marriage behind her. She wed Aidar Akayev, son of the President of Kyrgyzstan, in 1998. He later fled the country accused of money laundering and the relationshipe broke down.
...Kulibayev's marriage to President Nazarbayev's middle daughter Dinara cemented his position at the heart of the country's powerbase and he was put in control of the country's oil and his family's finances. The tycoon is said to have kept Goga on a luxury yacht off the coast of Turkey during a holiday with Dinara in 2007. His daily visits to his mistress, almost within sight of his wife, were an open secret among his staff. Goga's loyalty to Kulibayev has been lavishly rewarded. She is currently Chief Executive Officer of MunaiGaz Engineering, a Kazakh oil firm with offices in London's Grosvenor Cresent, that is building a pipeline across Kazakhstan.A few months later, Prince Andrew's marital home was sold to an offshore company for £15m.
In May The Sunday Times revealed that the foreign buyer had paid £3m more than the guide price on the property, even though there were no other bidders and it had been languishing unsold on the market for five years. Now it has emerged that the Kazakh who negotiated to buy Sunninghill Park may not be the real owner of the property, which in less than a year has become neglected and semi-derelict with doors left unlocked. Close family members of the man who negotiated the sale were also under investigation for suspected money laundering at the time of the sale, which took place last year.
...What is not in doubt is that the true buyer of Sunninghill Park is personally known to Andrew, who has a number of links to Kazakhstan, both professional and personal. He has visited the country many times on official business in his capacity as a roving amabassador for British trade and also on discreet private trips.
On one of his most recent visits, in May, he is understood to have spent a weekend on a goose-shooting excursion with Nursultan Nazarbayev, the president of Kazakhstan.
A spokesmen for the prince said that the sale of Sunninghill Park was a private matter, as no public money had been involved. But the Duke of York’s public role, for which he last year received £436,000 to cover his expenses, makes it essential that all his dealings are seen to be above board.
The Sunday Times has established that Kenes Rakishev, a wealthy 29-year-old Kazakh businessman, negotiated the purchase. He was said by a source close to the deal to have orchestrated it with the help of Imangali Tasmagambetov, his father-in-law, who is the mayor of Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan.
Andrew, who knows both Rakishev and Tasmagambetov, has refused to comment on the identity of the owner of his former home, which was a gift from the Queen at the time of his marriage to Ferguson.
Gaukhar “Goga” Ashkenazi, a 28-year-old Kazakh business-woman who is often seen with Andrew, is said to have told friends that she is the owner of Sunninghill Park and intends to knock it down and build something new. No planning applications have been lodged, and this weekend a spokeswoman for Ashkenazi, who last year bought a house in Holland Park, west London, for £27.5m, denied that she is connected to Sunninghill Park.
The other person who is thought to be the owner of Sunninghill Park is one of the most powerful men in Kazakhstan. Outstanding water bills for the property have been sent to a woman who works for him.
Timur Kulibayev, 41, is a billionaire oil and gas tycoon who is known to Andrew, not least through their attendance at hunting parties thrown by Nazarbayev. Sometimes, according to sources, the president has been known to shoot bears.
...Kulibayev’s connection to Sunninghill Park is well hidden. But the Crown Estate, which runs Windsor Great Park in which Sunninghill Park is sited, has been attempting to send invoices for outstanding water bills at the property to a woman called Olga Aristova, who works for Kulibayev in Kazakhstan. Rakishev said that Aristova worked for the billionaire as a manager. She refused to comment when contacted. At the same time, a debt collection agency working for the power company E.ON has been pursuing Rakishev for electricity bills of more than £4,000 for Sunninghill Park.
...One Kazakh politician described Rakishev as Kulibayev’s “bell boy”.
...Kulibayev, who is a former vice-president of KazMunaiGas (KMG), the state oil and gas company, and now chairman of KazEnergy, the industry’s umbrella organisation, repeatedly failed to respond to questions put to him. Although on paper Kulibayev is no longer connected to KMG, his tentacles in the oil industry are still far-reaching. They will undoubtedly have brought him into contact with the prince whose official task for the government is to help to broker deals between British firms and foreign interests.
According to one politician in Kazakhstan, the prince met representatives of KMG in May at the time of one of his most recent private trips. Witnesses also report seeing the prince in the country on a private visit in November, shortly after an official visit. On that occasion Andrew was seen at a bar called Soho in the city of Almaty. Again, he was said to be in the company of senior executives from KMG while also enjoying the attentions of a brunette.
...Kulibayev has also been busy inviting VIPs, reportedly including the prince, to regular hunting meets hosted by the Kazakh president. The events involve hospitality of every conceivable kind.
That's a worrying statement right there. One might pause to extrapolate here.
You know, I think it's possible they might be corrupt.
Nazarbayev’s financial dealings are being exposed to unfavourable scrutiny. He is facing embarrassment in the United States over a pending court case involving James Giffen, an American businessman who is accused of paying Nazarbayev $78m in bribes from oil companies in return for contracts.
Nazarbayev and other Kazakhs who are linked to people involved in the purchase of Sunninghill Park were, at the same time, being investigated by prosecutors in Liechtenstein over suspicions of money laundering via a company called the Walisa Foundation.
Among the 10 people involved in the “preliminary investigation” were Tasmagambetov, who has denied any connection to the prince’s house sale, his daughter Asel, who is married to Rakishev, and Dinara Kulibayeva.
According to Interpol transmissions between Liechtenstein and the United States, Tasmagambetov, Nazarbayev and Dinara were being investigated over a suspicion of money laundering, while Asel was described as also “involved in this case”. Rakishev was not involved.
And as for Prince Andrew, it all worked out swell. He's on a small allowance and it's not easy, you know.
...The extra money from the sale will have come in handy. After leaving Sunninghill Park, Andrew, whose only known personal income is a £249,000 annuity from his mother, moved into Royal Lodge, the Queen Mother’s former Windsor residence. He borrowed money from the Queen to fund a £7m refur-bishment on the understanding that he would pay her back from the sale of Sunninghill. Thanks to the Kazakhs he can easily afford to pay his debts.
Moneyed people and royals in Britian have become enamored with all things Kazakhstan.
Britain is the third largest foreign investor nation in Kazakhstan. More than 100 UK-based companies are operating there, primarily in the field of energy, although the St Helens-based Pilkington glass company is currently developing a plant near Kyzylorda, which was said at its inception in 2007 to be the largest industrial project in the country.
Undoubtedly the British kingpin in this economic love-in is Sir Richard Evans, the former chairman of BAE Systems and the man who brokered the largest arms deal in British history during the 1980s in Saudi Arabia. Sir Dick is a world-renowned tough cookie. Since 2006 he has been in charge of Samruk, the Kazakh oil-to-railwaysto-airline state holding company, now Samruk-Kazyna, which controls one third of the nation's developing economy and in effect employs some 250,000 of the 16 million population. Not bad for a lad from Lancashire.
Furthermore, two years ago Lord Rothschild established an investment fund, Tau Capital, to 'give investors the opportunity to participate in the wealth of investment opportunities in Kazakhstan,' says its website. Interestingly, this is a return to the region for the Rothschilds who, at the start of the 1900s, were the second most important family in the Caspian Sea area.
But what has attracted headlines beyond the business pages is the number of members of our own Royal Family who have taken an interest in all matters Kazakh. Earlier this month Prince Michael of Kent confided that he was heading to Almaty on a 'private visit' business trip later this year. 'There are a number of ventures I am looking into,' he said. These are belttightening times for the Prince, who has announced that from next year he will be paying an annual rent of [pounds sterling]120,000 to remain at the apartment in Kensington Palace that he has long shared with his wife for a nominal amount. One can only imagine that Prince Michael has taken advice from Prince Andrew who has had serious property problems of his own, only to have them solved by doing business with the man who has run Kazakhstan with an iron grip for almost two decades.
Tight. One big happy family.
UPDATE: Goga Ashkenazi turns 30, has a big party with her friends.
And:Who said we live in austerity Britain? Last night saw the 30th birthday party of glamorous socialite Goga Ashkenazi, who has shot from being a complete unknown to boasting that she has "a prince on one arm and a billionaire on the other". That refers to her close friendships with Prince Andrew and the son-in-law of the Kazakh premier, Nursultan Nazarbayev, oil magnate Timur Kulibayev, with whom she is believed to have had a child.
The guest list for the Tyringham Hall, Buckinghamshire, soirée included the Duke of York, Colonel Gaddafi's socialite sons, Moutassim and Saif, Sir Philip Green, Lord Mandelson and Lakshmi Mittal. Meanwhile, the dress code stated "black tie and truly fabulous" as tycoons were told that they could drop off their private jets at, er, Luton Airport. Camparis all round!
And partygoers — who included Russian model Natalia Vodianova, Indian-born steel billionaire Lakshmi Mittal, glamourpuss Nancy Dell’Olio, and Lord Mandelson — were asked to adhere to a ‘black tie and truly fabulous’ dress code. But not even the spectacle of Kazakhstan beauty Goga’s image being beamed on to the walls of the 18th-century mansion could match the highlight of the evening — special guest Prince Andrew (whose house Goga sold) being entertained by a live performance from louche American rapper Akon, famous for his hit song Smack That.