The scandal between the authorities of Kazakhstan and the Moldovan businessman Anatoly (Anatol) Stati is gaining momentum. Legal proceedings that started in 2013 became public after the Belgian court and Amsterdam court decided to arrest more than $22 billion belonging to the National Fund of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the Bank of New York Mellon (BNY Mellon) on New Year's Eve. The reason for the arrest of the accounts was a lawsuit filed by Anatoly Stati and his company, which accused Astana of raiding its property and demanded damages of $ 4 billion.
The Kazakh side denies the accusations and tries to prove the opposite in court. Meanwhile, Anatol Stati intends to ask the court of Holland to oblige the state fund of Kazakhstan "Samruk-Kazyna" to sell a stake in the giant oil field Kashagan for compensation of damages.
Chisinau political analyst Zurab Todua commented to EADaily: "Moldovan oligarch Anatol Stati is a very interesting and in many ways a mysterious figure. Suffice it to say that he is in fact the only businessman from Moldova who managed to create not a penny business abroad on tomatoes, apples and wines, but a serious one, connected with oil and gas. In the late 1990s, he managed to somehow squeeze into the oil and gas industry in Kazakhstan. Perhaps, under the patronage of the then president of Moldova, Petru Lucinschi. He invested heavily in development of two oil and gas condensate fields - Tolkyn and Borankol in Mangystau Region. In 2005, the construction of the Borankol gas processing plant began in Mangystau. The project was estimated at $176.5 million and was financed by Stati Tristan Oil."
According to Todua, the businessman allegedly managed to invest $156.2 million in construction through the subsidiary Tolkynneftegaz company.
In addition, Stati began to look for ways to enter the Middle East and after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein made business in Iraq. Stati failed to establish relations with the Moldovan Communists, who were in power from 2001 to 2009. In 2008, Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin appealed to the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev with an official letter asking him to investigate whether business operations and property of Stati in Kazakhstan were legal. The authorities of Kazakhstan seem to like this appeal, Todua thinks.
In any case, Stati soon had to leave the country immediately and with great losses. The businessman did not forgive Voronin, according to available information, he actively supported the mutiny on April 7, 2009 in Moldova, as a result of which the buildings of the parliament and the presidential administration were set on fire.
A few months later, the Communist Party lost power in Moldova. For all this time Anatol Stati has been in the shadows. Unlike another Moldovan billionaire Vlad Plahotniuc, he did not go into public politics. Stati’s name rarely appears in the media, he avoids public events, avoids any appearances on the television screen. Some discomfort was created for him by his son Gaby's, who did not hide the craving for "a beautiful, luxurious life" that in far from rich Moldova was striking and irritating society. However, in recent years, Gaby began to follow the example of his father and also went into the shadows.
"But 3-4 years ago, in Chisinau in the most prestigious place of the city, in the Komsomolskoye Lake area, the embassy of Qatar, one of the richest countries of the world, suddenly opened. What interests Moldova and Qatar have in common, one can only guess. But it is quite clear that here we are talking about large-scale business interests of the oligarchs of the two states. From the Moldovan side, they are most likely Anatol Stati, as there are no other businessmen of this level in Moldova who could have interests in Qatar. Reports that Kazakhstan has problems with its billion-dollar assets abroad are not surprising. Anatol Stati has not forgotten how he was treated there. All this time, probably, he was getting ready, hiring strong lawyers, who slowly and thoroughly have worked on the issue. The result is obvious. Problems in Kazakhstan, it seems, will be quite serious. Claims from Stati to Kazakhstan are very beneficial to the West today for many reasons. First of all, this is an opportunity to exert powerful pressure on Astana and try to force it to be more receptive to the recommendations and advice of Washington and Brussels," Zurab Todua said.
They in Astana are not going to put up with the emerging situation. The National Bank of Kazakhstan, in turn, filed a lawsuit against BNY Mellon. According to an informed source, the case will be examined in England in October 2018. Minister of Justice of Kazakhstan Marat Beketayev called not to dramatize the situation. "No one will ever take away $22 billion from us. This money remains in Kazakhstan's property, they are protected by sovereign immunity. In the short term, these assets will be transferred, it will be impossible to sell to someone. Risks are limited by the amount of the claim, it is $0.5 billion, but we do not want to give even the impugned amount, because we believe that the arbitration award was obtained illegally".
Kazakh political analyst, director of the Risk Assessment Group (Alma-Ata) Dosym Satpayev is more concerned about the future of the entire National Fund, and not just the fate of frozen funds. He draws analogies with the "gold of the Communist Party" that has completely disappeared and believes that the "vague political future of the country" carries a potential threat to the security of the fund. "This has happened more than once in the history of Kazakhstan. And not only with foreign investors, but more often with domestic investors. However, Kazakh businessmen, unlike foreigners, preferred to remain silent. The war declared by Anatoly Stati against the Kazakh authorities creates a dangerous precedent: real threats are emerging for different state assets located around the world," Dosym Satpayev told EADaily.
According to him, the arrest of state assets under claims of private investors poses threats in the future: during the years of independence, the number of foreign businessmen, offended by the Kazakh authorities, has grown significantly. This year, for example, the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes in Paris issued an arbitration award, according to which Kazakhstan is obliged to pay to the oil producing company Caratube International Oil Co. compensation of $ 39 million.
"This company accuses the Kazakh government of causing it serious financial damage by illegally terminating the contract for the development of deposits. By the way, the initial amount of claims was more than $1 billion. It is clear that the Kazakh authorities will try to make every effort to challenge the charges. But the unpleasant taste will remain in any case. Just as there will remain gaps and vulnerabilities in the security of foreign state assets," Satpayev told EADaily.
EADaily Central Asian Bureau