Interpol Searches for Former Kazakh Transportation Executive

Published: 05 August 2019

1080px-Строительство ЛРТ АстаныConstruction of the light rail in Nur-Sultan (Maximiljan)

By Viktoriya Li

Interpol has put the former executive of a Kazakh transit company on its wanted list claiming he was involved in an embezzlement scheme.

Astana LRT is overseeing construction of Kazakhstan’s first light-rail system, a major development in the country’s public infrastructure. Talgat Ardan, the company’s director, was released from his directorial position in 2017 after three years at the head of the firm. The following year, Kazakh prosecutors opened a criminal case against company managers who were suspected of abusing their power.  

Ardan’s successor, Bekmyrza Igenberdinov, indicated that the managers were unorganized or negligent in their jobs.

“Part of the papers are absent, part were not drawn up properly,” Igenberdinov said. “Whoever was the director at the time should take responsibility for the actions of his subordinates.”

The Anti-Corruption Agency of Kazakhstan opened a criminal case against Ardan earlier this year and issued a warrant for his arrest. Last week his name was added to the Interpol wanted list. 

Two presidents of Kazakhstan, former President Nursultan Nazarbayev and current President Kasym Jomart-Tokayev, have criticized the light-rail transit project in Nur-Sultan, pointing to possible investment risks and cost - almost $2 billion. About $350 million of the project’s budget has already been spent building the transit system. 

The Kazakh government borrowed $1.5 billion from the Chinese National Bank of Development for the project. About $200 million of that is in Bank Astana accounts frozen after that bank’s managers were found guilty of embezzlement. The complication leaves the fate of the Chinese investments unclear.

The Kazakh Ministry of Finance offers another way of funding preparing bond issues part of which will clear off Chinese debt and the rest will pay for construction of a light-rail transit system. Altay Kulginov, Nur-Sultan’s mayor, said they will trim the project budget. 

The project is expected to be put into commission next year.