Kazakhstan: Nazarbayev's Nephew Accused of Embezzling from State

Kazakhstan’s anti-corruption body concluded Wednesday its investigation into the nephew of former president Nursultan Nazarbayev and has determined that there is enough evidence to pursue charges of embezzlement from the state.

Nursultan NazarbayevThe nephew of former Kazakhstan president Nursultan Nazarbayev has been charged with embezzlement against state transport and communication companies. (Photo: UNESCO General Conference, Flickr, License)Kairat Satybaldyuly, the former president’s nephew and the latest of his relatives to be investigated for acts of corruption, is linked to an embezzlement scandal that has caused the disappearance of millions of dollars from state transport and communication companies.

The Anti-Corruption Agency’s statement explained that Satybaldyuly and four other unnamed persons of interest are in custody for their suspected role in the large-scale theft of funds from the Kazakhtelecom JSC state telecommunications company and the Car Service Center JSC state transport company.

Along with his wife, Satybaldyuly was arrested back in March this year for allegedly conspiring to illegally seize control of a private enterprise. He was subsequently placed in a detention center in Nur-Sultan, the country’s capital.

“In the course of the investigation,” the agency said, “the total amount of illegally acquired assets and the accused’s money, more than 240 billion tenge, or more than 500 million U.S. dollars, was returned to the state.”

This includes Satybaldyuly’s interests in Kazakhtelecom. Authorities added, however, that they are not yet finished searching for other potential illegal assets the former president’s nephew may be hiding.

Back in June this year Satybaldyuly’s uncle, Bolat Nazarbayev, the former President’s brother, was accused of orchestrating the illegal takeover of a local businessman's shares in a mining company, estimated to be worth roughly US$150 million.

Nursultan Nazarbayev’s almost 20-year reign as Kazakhstan’s president from December 1991 to March 2019 appears to have been particularly lucrative for him and his extended family. An OCCRP investigation from January earlier this year unveiled how Nazarbayev’s controlling interests in a wide network of foundations allowed him to accumulate assets worth upwards of $8 billion.

The nature of these assets consist of shares in banks, factories, and luxury hotels, to name a few.

Despite his regime’s crackdown on free speech and political opposition, Nazarbayev managed to obtain total immunity from scrutiny or prosecution, in addition to the exorbitant riches his businesses accumulated for himself, his family, and close associates.

This immunity, however, does not extend to family members such as Satybaldyuly.

Kazakhstan’s anti-corruption agents continue to pursue criminal cases against Satybaldyuly for embezzlement and tax evasion. A trial date, however, has yet to be set.

However, Kazakhstan’s Anti-Corruption Agency stated that as the investigation into Satybaldyuly and his alleged co-conspirators proceeds, “additional real estate, cars and cash totaling more than 400 billion tenge, or more than 900 million U.S. dollars, will be installed in the country and abroad and will soon be returned to the state.”