Kyrgyz Ex-Customs Official Matraimov Pleads Guilty to Graft, Fined $3000
A district court in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan's capital, ordered Raimbek Matraimov, the former deputy chairman of the Kyrgyz customs service to pay a US$3,000 fine after he pleaded guilty on Thursday to orchestrating numerous corruption schemes and agreed to testify against his accomplices.
Kloop, Matraimov will also part ways with 10 of his properties — including a shopping mall and nine apartments throughout Bishkek.As part of the settlement, which was obtained by OCCRP’s Kyrgyz partner center
His Thursday hearing only lasted one day after the judge agreed to the fine requested by the prosecutor, which accounted for the $24.5 million that Matraimov had already paid back to the Kyrgyz state.
Matraimov is the subject of several investigations published by OCCRP, RFE/RL, Kloop and Bellingcat throughout the course of several months, which uncovered how he used his political connections to help launder an estimated $700 million out of Kyrgyzstan to a dozen countries across the world.
"A $3,000 fine for laundering $700 million is clearly a mockery of justice,” said Altynai Myrzabekova, Transparency International’s regional advisor for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
“Punishments for corruption must be proportional to the crime and be a deterrent to others. This is neither. If Kyrgyzstan's government is remotely serious about tackling corruption, it must remove political influence over the judiciary and apply the law equally, regardless of criminals' political connections," she added.
The court also ruled that it would terminate the freezes that had previously been ordered on the property and bank accounts of Matraimov and his relatives.
In October of 2020, Matraimov was detained by the State Committee of National Security, but was subsequently released after the former customs officer made a deal to pay back a portion of the sum he allegedly siphoned from the state.
He and his wife were also sanctioned by the United States under the Global Magnitsky Act in December of 2020.
Last year, the Matriamov family filed a lawsuit against Kloop and Radio Azattyk, another Kyrgyz media outlet, for their role in exposing his alleged role in organizing a vast money laundering network. There has yet to be a verdict in the case.