Their Loss is our Gain

Their Loss is our Gain


Despite the fact that the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in China grabbed the headlines, there is other news. The press drew attention to the disappearance of Timur Kulibayev, the omnipotent middle son-in-law of Nursultan Nazarbaev, Kazakhstan's first President, from the list of candidates for independent managers of Gazprom.

He was replaced by former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who was the official and unofficial supervisor of all oil and gas projects in this Central Asian republic.

Kulibayev is ranked by Forbes as the fourth richest man in Kazakhstan. He and Nazarbayev's other sons-in-law lost their positions. Back in January, the Russian government offered Kulibayev's appointment to Gazprom's board of directors. The final composition of Gazprom's board of directors will be confirmed during the meeting of shareholders. It is scheduled for June 30 in St. Petersburg.

It seems that the corporation decided to stay away from the “toxic” Timur Kulibayev. The Russian government might have decided to remove Kulibayev from the list in response to a request from his Kazakh colleagues. It must be all the more offensive to the oligarch's son-in-law that these days in Beijing, an $80 billion agreement was signed under which Rosneft will supply 100 million tonnes of oil to China's northwestern refineries that will be pumped through Kazakhstan's pipelines.

Their loss is our gain. “Tim's team,” like a very wide network of businessmen, officials, journalists, working for Kulibayev is called, may have enough power not to miss the profit from this pumping, too. Unless, of course, the team stays a team and doesn't leave the sinking ship. Those who have earned relatively easy and safe money on state contracts, taking away business from weaker, getting interest-free loans, begin to feel uncomfortable building their empire. Twenty years ago, some of these people were putting up their palms for Mr. Kulibayev to shake off ash from cigars (true story!), but now they don't need him anymore. He has no authority there. Moreover, he might even be harmful.

The Kazakhstan Halqina Foundation has published a list of donors and a report on the funds received.

It is known that more than 113.4 billion tenges ($264.93 mln) from those wishing to help the people of Kazakhstan were deposited in the accounts of the Fund. These funds will be used for the implementation of projects and development programs for the benefit of the population.

Not all of the owners of the largest fortunes made from the exploitation of wealth, resources, subsoil, and labor of the people of Kazakhstan have understood that it is necessary to share. That is why the President of the country Kassym-Jomart Tokayev had to make a stern warning to big companies that did not make donations.

“Some prominent entrepreneurs, who are part of the oligopoly, did not participate in the charitable action initiated by the head of state. Is this greed, nihilism, slackness, or neglect? The state has a set of powers to get an answer to this question,” said the President in his speech at the congress of the Nur Otan party on January 28.

This is the only style of communication that is usually understood by the formerly all-powerful representatives of various financial-industrial groups, acting under the patronage of the “masters” of the republic, even from “Tim's team.”

After this speech, the name of Daniyar Abulgazin, who lavished as much as 500,000,000 tenges ($1.17 mln), appeared on the list of the biggest private investors in the Fund’s report.

According to the estimates of Forbes's Kazakhstan, Daniyar Abulgazin with a fortune of $455 million takes 16 place in the list of dollar millionaires of the Republic. His family owns shares in Petrosun, engaged in import of oil products, Avtogaz Trade (gas stations), Sinooil (the SinoOil gas stations), Prime case (the KazMunayGas gas stations), as well as shares in Mercury Service Company, Petroleum, Apple World and others.

The family also has stakes in Viled Group, Saks Fifth Avenue in Almaty, and the Code de vie chain of perfume and cosmetics stores. Through ADD Invest Properties, together with Timur (№1 in the list) and Dinara Kulibayevs, they manage the Keruen city Astana mall, the Talan Towers mall, and Turan 18 mall in the capital, the Baizaar mall in Atyrau, and the Keruen city Aktobe mall.

He is a chairman of the committee of oil and gas industry of the presidium of Atameken, vice-president of National Olympic Committee, president of the Table Tennis Federation of Kazakhstan, chairman of Confederation of combat sports and power sports of Kazakhstan, co-founder of the Capital Boxing Federation Public Association, member of the board of trustees of RFMSH and Fizmat Endowment Fund, according to Forbes Kazakhstan.

The detailed scheme of the business empire of the Abulgazin family, based on the data from open sources, shows that the founding and the main shares of companies are registered to Aidana Suleimenova, spouse of Mr. Abulgazin. Probably they are trying to convince us that she has an entrepreneurial streak, but most likely, this is how Abulgazin insures himself against possible questions about his capital from Kulibayev's auditors or law enforcement agencies. All the more than last year, by order of President Tokayev Accounts Committee of the country, started an audit on Kazakh oil refineries and in National Olympic Committee, where Abulgazin's managerial talents are noticeable. In the first case, it was caused by shady schemes and generally incomprehensible situation with artificial fuel shortage, repeated from year to year. The second one is the failure of the Kazakhstan team at the Olympics in Tokyo. Interestingly, the Accounts Committee did not publish reports in both cases, although it is known that the facts uncovered were presented to the President. Now, this data is being studied by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev's administration. By the way, in the case of the National Olympic Committee, the Accounts Committee checked exactly on Mr. Abulgazin, who supervised the preparation for the Tokyo Olympics.

It is clear that such swift enrichment became possible first of all due to his close relationship with Timur Kulibayev, and only after that due to the alleged professional qualities of Daniyar Abulgazin or his hard work for the benefit of the motherland. The high level of trust in Abulgazin as a son-in-law of the first president of Kazakhstan is confirmed by the fact that even staffing issues in the key for Kazakhstan oil and gas sector are partially solved by Abulgazin. Some of the mass media in Kazakhstan paid attention to this point saying that Aset Magauov and Bolat Akchulakov alternately changed their positions. Either they took the position of CEO of Kazenergy Association or the position of deputy minister of energy. The “change” of these two officials usually happens right after the next fuel crisis, when the government makes a show of shame but, in reality, nothing changes. The authors of fuel crises manage to “skim the cream off” in the form of millions of dollars that they then transfer to shell companies. Bolat Akchulakov, after the tragic events of January, is on a roll again and serves as Energy Minister, to several experts’ surprise. The bench strength in Kazakhstan is quite small or Mr. Abulgazin has not lost his influence yet and intends to clean up the mess.

And the mess is huge, especially in the oil industry. Our editorial office received a very interesting document, which is direct proof of the quasi-legal schemes of withdrawal of stolen capital through various schemes.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. The whole picture will be of great interest to the responsible authorities of Kazakhstan. In case of an investigation, other channels of money withdrawal will be disclosed that were later used to buy super expensive real estate, airplanes, and other spoils of affluence. Daniyar Abulgazin is undoubtedly one of those 162 people, who own half of the wealth of Kazakhstan. Now, it is time for him to answer the main question: WHERE did these billions come from?

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