Kyrgyzstan Rejects Links to Money Laundering Allegations

Published: 24 June 2020

249096789 29265a9783 w copyThe Kyrgyz parliament approved the commission's conclusion at 72 against 1. (Photo: Ben Paarmann, CC BY 2.0)

By Sandrine Gagné-Acoulon

Kyrgyz lawmakers approved a report that was put together by a parliamentary commission which concluded that the government had nothing to do with the multi-million dollar corruption and money laundering scheme alleged last November by journalists.

The award-winning project titled Plunder And Patronage In The Heart Of Central Asia was published by OCCRP in partnership with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Kyrgyz news site Kloop and exposed how rampant corruption at the country’s customs service allowed a Uighur family empire to funnel goods from China to Kyrgyzstan without paying taxes.

According to a whistleblower who claimed he personally hand-carried the family’s money out of the country, the scheme saw hundreds of millions of dollars laundered. He was murdered in Istanbul in November after speaking to journalists. 

The Kyrgyz parliament formed a commission and tasked it with investigating the journalists’ findings and last Thursday lawmakers approved the conclusion of the commission that "the US$932 million withdrawn from the country is not related to Kyrgyzstan, since it was the funds of Kyrgyz and foreign private entrepreneurs,” RFE/RL reported. 

Only one deputy, Ryskeldi Mombekov, voted against the report and later called it “bias. 

Since the publishing of the investigation Kyrgyzstan has sought to amend its image toward corruption by launching a probe against former Prime Minister Mukhammedkalyi Abylgaziev and by sentencing ex-President Almazbek Atambayev to 11 years of prison in unrelated cases. 

Raimbek Matraimov, a former customs official at the center of the journalist investigation has filed a libel lawsuit against the reporters and allegedly ordered in April the 'dead or alive' capture of RFE journalist Ali Toktakunov, one of the lead investigators. He denies all allegations.