Kyrgyz Ex-Deputy Custom Chief, Matraimov, Back in Jail

A Bishkek court has put Raimbek Matraimov, former deputy head of the Kyrgyzstan’s Customs Service, in pre-trial detention on Saturday, after the State Committee for National Security (GKNB) rearrested him last week.

Matraimov KloopKyrgyz authorities arrested Raimbek Matraimov, ex-Deputy Chief of the country's Custom Service. (Photo. Kloop)Matraimov was arrested on Thursday and is being investigated for money laundering, the Committee said in a statement. He was kept in detention for 48 hours, after which the Pervomaisky District Court of Bishkek decided to place the controversial official in pre-trial detention for at least two months, according to OCCRP Kyrgyz partner, Kloop.

Matraimov’s lawyer, Madina Niyazova, said she would appeal the ruling, the news outlet said.

Earlier this month Matraimov pleaded guilty to orchestrating numerous corruption schemes and agreed to testify against his accomplices.

Following his confession, the court only ordered Matraimov to pay a US$3,000 fine, claiming that he had already paid back to the Kyrgyz state some US$24 million which allegedly vanished in the corruption schemes he was linked to.

The court’s decision prompted hundreds to hit the streets of Bishkek and protest the mild ruling, demanding a harsh sentence. Days later the GKNB arrested Matraimov again.

The U.S. Embassy in Bishkek hailed Matraimov’s second arrest “on charges of corruption and money laundering.”

“We are committed to working with Kyrgyz law enforcement to identify and, if proven, return stolen Kyrgyz assets to the Kyrgyz people,” the Embassy tweeted.

Raimbek Matraimov is the subject of several investigations published by OCCRP, RFE/RL, Kloop and Bellingcat through the course of several months. The investigations uncovered how he used his political connections to help funnel an estimated $700 million out of Kyrgyzstan to a dozen countries across the world.