The Times revealed that Nazarbayeva owns the buildings via companies located in the British Virgin Islands and in Abu Dhabi.The addresses for the properties range from 215 Baker Street to 237 Baker Street, which includes the fictional address of Sherlock Holmes at 221b Baker Street.
The use of Unexplained Wealth Orders as a tool of law enforcement in the United Kingdom is under scrutiny after it was revealed that an anti-corruption case was dropped because the defendant may have used a frontman, Galimzhan Yessenov, to hide assets.
The UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA) brought an unexplained wealth order against Dariga Nazarbayeva, the daughter of Kazakhstan’s former President, and her associates last year in relation to £90 million of property she owned in London.
Unexplained Wealth Orders were introduced in the UK to help law enforcement tackle corruption and money laundering by requiring individuals to demonstrate that the source of their wealth is legitimate.
Nazarbayeva was able to show that she had bought the London properties using money from the sale of a sugar company called Kant in 2008. This was deemed a legitimate source and the case was dropped, embarrassing the NCA and raising questions over the effectiveness of unexplained wealth orders.
However, it has now emerged that the Nazarbayeva case may be more complicated than was presented in court.
An investigation by The Times newspaper and Source Material, an investigative journalism group, found that Nazarbayeva may have bought the Kant shares from herself with the help of an intermediary called Galimzhan Yessenov.
Source Material wrote that the “investigation raises fresh concerns about the case, and about Nazarbayeva’s testimony on how she made her millions”.
“Nazarbayeva was simply moving money from one of her assets to another in imitation of a genuine sale,” the article said. Nazarbayeva’s lawyers have denied that she misled the UK courts.
The Kant shares were sold for $74.3 million to Gas Development, which was owned by Erbol Tymbaev and a company called Ardelis. At the time of the transaction, Ardelis was owned by Dinara Yessenova – a relative of Galimzhan Yessenov and a shareholder in his holding company KNG Finance. Separately, Erbol Tymbaev has worked with Yessenov at several companies over the past 15 years.
Gas Development was later sold to a company based in Ras Al Khaimah called Kingsway Limited, which was part-owned by Yessenov.
This has raised the possibility that Yessenov was used to secretly hold Gas Development on behalf of Dariga Nazarbayeva. Given that Yessenov was just 25 years old at the time of the Kant deal and did not have access to $74 million it is thought unlikely he was acting alone.
The same year that Gas Development acquired the Kant shares, Yessenov married the daughter of Akhmetzhan Yessimov, the former mayor of Almaty and an advisor to Dariga’s father – President Nursultan Nazarabayev.
Since his marriage into the Yessimov family, Galimzhan Yessenov has accumulated a fortune estimated at $500 million but there has been speculation that his wealth has been built on his close relationships with Kazakhstan’s ruling elite. This has provoked controversy over government bailouts for ATF Bank, which he owns.
The Times-Source Material investigation also revealed that Dariga Nazarbayeva and her son Nurali Aliyev own other properties in London on Baker Street. The ownership of these properties, which are worth at least £140 million, has been a mystery for several years but The Times revealed that Nazarbayeva owns the buildings via companies located in the British Virgin Islands and in Abu Dhabi.
The addresses for the properties range from 215 Baker Street to 237 Baker Street, which includes the fictional address of Sherlock Holmes at 221b Baker Street.