Family of former Kazakhstan president win mansion order challenge

Daughter and grandson of former Kazakhstan president win High Court challenge against ‘McMafia’ order over three mansions worth £80million as judge finds they were not bought by government official

The daughter and grandson of the former president of Kazakhstan have won a High Court challenge after a national law enforcement agency gained an interim freezing order against three London properties, worth £80million, under so called ‘McMafia laws’

The National Crime Agency (NCA) obtained unexplained wealth orders (UWOs) against the properties, including one high-security mansion on London’s ‘Billionaires’ Row’, last May. 

The other two London properties involved in the case are in Manresa Road, Chelsea and Denewood Road, Highgate.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) obtained unexplained wealth orders (UWOs) against the properties, including one high-security mansion in Bishop’s Avenue, Hampstead, referred to as London’s ‘Billionaires’ Row’ (pictured), last May

The NCA said the purchases of the three properties, including one in Denewood Road, Highgate (pictured) were funded by Rakhat Aliyev, formerly a senior member of the Kazakh government, who died in an Austrian prison in 2015 while awaiting trial on two charges of murder

The other London property involved in the case was Manresa Road, Chelsea. In total, all three properties were said to be worth £80 million

The NCA said the purchases of the three properties were funded by Rakhat Aliyev, formerly a senior member of the Kazakh government, who died in an Austrian prison in 2015 while awaiting trial on two charges of murder.

What is an unexplained wealth order (UWO)? 

 

But the ultimate beneficial owners of the three properties – Rakhat Aliyev’s ex-wife, Dariga Nazarbayeva, the current chairwoman of the senate in Kazakhstan and daughter of former Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev, and her son, Nurali Aliyev – applied to the High Court to discharge the UWOs.

Lawyers representing Dr Nazarbayeva claimed the properties were not associated with Aliyev at all, and that she had an ‘entirely independent life as an economically-active woman’.

And at a previous court hearing, it was heard Dr Nazarbayeva divorced Rakhat Aliyev in 2007, ‘yet nonetheless it is suggested that these properties, which were acquired from 2008 onwards … are nevertheless to be regarded as proceeds of Rakhat Aliyev’s crimes’.

Today, at the High Court, the rulings were overturned.

Giving judgment remotely on Wednesday, Mrs Justice Lang overturned all three UWOs, ruling that ‘the NCA’s assumption’ that Rakhat Aliyev was the source of the funds to purchase the three properties was ‘unreliable’.

Nurali Aliyev is the son of Rakhat Aliyev’s ex-wife, Dariga Nazarbayeva, the current chairwoman of the senate in Kazakhstan and daughter of former Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev

In a ruling at the High Court (pictured) a judge said there was ‘cogent evidence’ that Dr Nazarbayeva and Nurali Aliyev had founded the companies which owned the properties and provided the funds to purchase them

The judge said there was ‘cogent evidence’ that Dr Nazarbayeva and Nurali Aliyev had founded the companies which owned the properties and provided the funds to purchase them.

Graeme Biggar, the NCA’s Director General of the National Economic Crime Centre, said: ‘The UK’s robust legal system is recognised worldwide and the ability to challenge decisions is a key part of that reputation. Unexplained Wealth Orders are new legislation and we always expected there would be significant legal challenge over their use.

‘We disagree with this decision to discharge the UWOs and will be filing an appeal. These hearings will establish the case law on which future judgments will be based, so it is vital that we get this right.

‘The NCA is tenacious. We have been very clear that we will use all the legislation at our disposal to pursue suspected illicit finance and we will continue to do so.’ 

A spokesperson on behalf of Dr Nazarbayeva said: ‘Today’s judgment has entirely vindicated Dr Nazarbayeva.

‘She is pleased that the court has agreed with her that the NCA’s investigations were flawed and that she has not been involved in any wrongdoing.’ 

 

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