Exiled Kazakh oligarch arrested in south of France

1st August 2013, Comments 0 comments

A fugitive banker and fierce critic of Kazakhstan's regime was arrested on Wednesday near Cannes in south-eastern France, a source close to the case said.

Mukhtar Ablyazov was arrested at 3pm local time in the village of Mouans-Sartoux, about 10 kilometres (six miles) outside the French Riviera resort of Cannes, on an arrest warrant issued by Ukraine, the source said.

A former energy minister turned opposition leader, Ablyazov was jailed in 2002 for abuse of power and illegal business activities in a move widely seen as a bid to silence the opposition.

Upon his release he led the BTA Bank that saw rapid development, but later fled to London amid accusations he stole billions of dollars in state and investor funds.

He later left London and his whereabouts had been unknown ever since.

Ablyazov's wife and six-year-old daughter were deported back to Kazakhstan from Italy in May -- without being given right to appeal -- sparking a huge scandal in the country which forced the interior ministry's chief of staff to resign.

Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev has been at the helm of the ex-Soviet country for almost 22 years, bringing economic reforms and prosperity to the energy-rich nation but cracking down on political opponents and drawing accusations of human rights violations.

© 2013 AFP

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