Rakhat Aliyev

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Rakhat Aliyev. Photo by Mikhail Evstafiev

Rakhat Mukhtaruly Aliyev (Kazakh: Рахат Мұхтарұлы Әлиев; born 10 December 1962, Almaty) is a former senior official of the government of Kazakhstan who is in an Austrian prison awaiting trial on charges of murder.[1] He was chief of Kazakhstan's tax police, deputy chief of the KNB state security service (Kazakhstan's successor to the Soviet KGB), ambassador to Austria, and first vice foreign minister. While serving in those government posts, Aliyev amassed a fortune in the banking, oil refining, news media, telecommunications, and agricultural commodities sectors.[2]

In February 2007 he was appointed to his second tour as Kazakhstan's ambassador to Austria and to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, before being relieved of his post and losing his diplomatic immunity.[3]

Until June 2007, Aliyev was married to Dariga Nazarbayeva, the eldest daughter of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

After hiding in Malta to avoid an Interpol warrant for his arrest, and attempting to gain Cypriot citizenship, Aliyev was taken into custody in June 2014 by Austrian authorities on charges that include kidnapping and murder.[4] He is jailed at the Josefstadt prison pending trial, and placed under watch as a suicide risk.[5]

Aliyev, who has portrayed himself as a dissident since his falling out with Kazakhstan's leadership, says he is innocent and that the charges against him are politically motivated.[6]

Criminal Allegations[edit]

Money Laundering[edit]

Aliyev’s money was allegedly fed into two off-shore companies, A.V. Maximus SA and Argocom Ltd, both based in the British Virgin Islands. From here, the money went into A.V. Maximus Holding AG, their parent company.[7] Reportedly, A.V Maximus SA’s British Virgin Island’s affiliate received 24.8 million Euro and $91.4 million, while Agrocom received 15.6 million Euro. The money was the directed into Armoreal Trading GmbH and S.T.A.R.T Management consulting GmbH, among other subsidiaries. Loans between these subsidiaries were then sent to Metallwerke Bender Rhineland, some of it via ITR Information Technology GmbH. Metallwerke Bender Rhineland (MBR) then paid it back through Armoreal trading, ultimately going to A.V. Maximus SA. Money was returned to A.V. Maximus SA as a return on investments, which enabled the money to be legally wired to A&P Power Ltd via A.V. Maximus Holding AG. A&A Poweris owned by A&P Power Holdings Ltd, which is housed in Nevis.

Aliyev moved to Malta with his wife Elnara Shorazova, the two allegedly began to dissolve and reorganize their money laundering network. MBR was sold to a Dubai-based company in March 2010.[8] Armoreal Trading was liquidated in December 2010 while an Austrian company known as Veitlissen transferred 2.4 million Euro to A&P Power Ltd. In March 2011, A.V. Maximus Holding was sold to A&P Power Ltd and renamed Zurich Asset management.

In 2005, the investigation into this arrangement began when Wiesbaden were reportedly alerted about Armoreal Trading’s suspicious loan activity.[9] Nothing came of the complaint and the issue lay dormant until Spring 2007, when three Austrian banks, Schoellerbank AG, Privitnvest Bank AG and M&A Privatbank AG reported transactions involving Aliyev’s company to Austrian Interior Minister. All of his enterprises’ bank accounts were the blocked. The money originated in the late 1990s, when Laiyev was head of the tax office in Kazakhstan.

According to reports, Aliyev amassed a large fortune through defrauding a variety of companies and services, one of which was the Kazakhstani state soccer team. All of the financial interests were placed inside START Management consulting GmbH, a Viennese-based firm. Between March 2006 and January 2007, a million euro in spondership money disappeared from START accounts. Despite this, the contract between the two companies was renewed in early 2007 and 403,000 euros were transferred to START’s account.[10]


The Kazakhstan government found Aliyev guilty of treason for attempting a coup against the Kazakh president.[11]


Aliyev allegedly tortured the two bodyguards of Akezkan Kazhegeldin to get the to confess to a coup d'etat.[12] The two men, lbaryev and Afansenko, claimed that in April of 2000, Aliyev tortured them for a total of 48 hours wanting them to confess that Mr. Kazhegeldin had been plotting a coup in Kazakhstan against Nazarbayev. [13] According to the lawyer of the two accusers, Lothar de Maiziere, they addressed law enforcement of Malta demanding a criminal case but the authorities allegedly never followed through.[14]


Aliyev was accused of killing the Kazakh opposition leader, Altynbek Sarsenbayev[15] in February of 2006 according to Kazakh prosecutors. In December 2013, prosecutors reportedly released findings that Aliyev ordered the assassination.[16] January 2014, the office filed a notion to start a new case against Aliyev and the former head of National Security of Kazakhstan, Alnus Masayev, related to the involvement in the opposition leader's murder as well as his bodyguard and his lawyer. [17]

Aliyev reportedly kidnapped two managers of the Nurbank bank in 2007 and the bodies were later found in 2011.[18] In 2008, the Kazakh court convicted him in absentia of commissioning the double murders.[19]

In addition, Aliyev reportedly also tortured and killed a 23 year old TV presenter Anastasiya Novikova.[20] According to reports, Novikova's family lost contacts with her in 2004 and reported her missing three years later on July 26, 2007. Letters obtained between and her family identified Aliyev as the father of her daugher. Novikova reportedly married Danijar Esten of the Kazakh Embassy in Vienna to cover for Aliyev's dalliance. The daughter was taken away after shortly after the birth.[21] Aliyev denies the allegations against him and says they are politically motivated.[22]


In addition to the Nurbank managers' kidnapping, Aliyev also reportedly was accused of kidnapping Artem Mikayan Yarikov, a Russian TV executive working in Kazakhstan the mid 1990s. [23]


Aliyev fled to Austria when he was being investigated for the murder of the two Nurbank managers. Before arrested, he was quickly appointed the new Kazakh ambassador to Austria on February 9, 2007 as a polite way to get him out of the country. While in Austria, Aliyev announced his candidacy for the upcoming Kazakhstan elections and criticized the sitting Kazakh President, Nursultan Nazarbayev. A full domestic Kazakh investigation began in May 2007 into Aliyev’s activities.[24]

As a result his diplomatic passport was cancelled, as was his diplomatic immunity. Kazakhstan filed its first extradition request with Austria at this time. The domestic Kazak investigation concluded on January 2008 with Kazak courts sentencing Aliyev to forty years of imprisonment in abstentia. His crimes were kidnapping, treason and plotting a coup d’etat against his father-in-law Nursultan Nazarbayev.[25]

According to reports, “Kazakhstan requested his extradition from Austria twice, but was denied on both accounts, since Austria was unsure that Aliyev would get a fair trial in his home country.”[26]

He married to Austrian citizen Elnasa Shorazova and enjoyed free movement throughout Europe although being investigated on fraud charges in the Austria, Germany and Malta.. [27] European Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom told reporters that the investigation on fraud charges was difficult because of the different criminal legislation within the European Union countries.[28]

According to reports, in November 2013 Aliyev tried to open a bank account in Cyprus with an invalid account which alerted authorities. The following January, two members of the European Parliament made public calls to the European Commissioner to get Eurojust and Europol to assist with the ongoing criminal investigations.[29]

In 2013, Aliyev’s Austrian passport was canceled by the decision of Austrian Minister of Interior. [30] He allegedly wanted to obtain citizenship in Cyprus because it was becoming “too hot” in Malta because of all the investigations.[31]


Aliyev was arrested in June 2014 after he allegedly turned himself into authorities to cooperate with the murder investigation of the two bankers.[32] His lawyer confirmed the arrest and said it took place at 11pm on June 5, 2014 on his way to the airport.[33]


July 4th 2014, Aliyev had been moved to a secure prison cell because of repeated attacks and threats by other inmates. He allegedly is forced to share a cell because of fear he might commit suicide. According to his lawyer, Manfred Ainedter, Aliyev complained that the other prisoners were asking for thousands of euros to leave him alone [34]

It is reported that if Aliyev would return to Kazakhstan, he would face 40 years imprisonment while in Austria he could carry a life sentence. [35]


Aliyev has denied all charges against him. According to reports, he claimed that he was prosecuted by the Kazakh government and think people after him are “in bed with Kazak.”[36] According an interview, he said that “criminal accusations that the regime has tried to hang on him are all fiction."[37] He also said in the same interview that all the charges were "made up primarily by the leadership of the National Security Committee, the prosecutor general, the interior minister, and the whole power bloc of ministries. [38]

He said that all his trials and sentencing were politically motivated and told newspapers that he would be willing to appear in Austrian courts but feared that he would be kidnapped.[39]

He also reportedly called the the lawyer, Gabriel Lansky, that has been helping the bankers widows and their campaigns to bring justice as fronts of the Kazakh regime.[40]

Skype Calls[edit]

However, according to Die Presse newspaper, Austrian authorities found Skype calls that undermine his claims. The obtained calls allegedly discussed the disappearance of the two Nurbank bank managers and the location of the bodies. In addition, the alibi about their disappearance was reportedly also discussed.[41]

Aliyev vs Nazarbayev[edit]

On 9 February 2007 President Nursultan Nazarbayev appointed Aliyev as Ambassador of Kazakhstan in Austria and Permanent Representative to the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe) and other international organizations in Vienna. The move occurred days after Aliyev became embroiled in a controversy over the disappearance of two former executives of the Kazakh bank “Nurbank”. 6 February 2007 the Financial police said they were investigating two former managers (both resigned from their position on 22 January 2007) of Nurbank on suspicion of fraud. After the permission of President Nazarbayev to Kazakh law enforcement bodies to investigate this criminal case “without regard for rank”, Aliyev was accused of abduction and extortion at the end of May 2007. On May 22, Nursultan Nazarbayev signed constitutional amendments that effectively allow him to become president-for-life, a move denounced by the opposition. Aliyev joined the chorus of critics, saying the amendments threaten to torpedo Kazakhstan’s OSCE chairmanship bid. In his most recent statements, he accused his father-in-law of "de facto usurping" power.[citation needed] Following Aliyev’s denial and claims that he had fallen victim to political repression, Nazarbayev on May 26 issued a decree N333 stripping his son-in-law of all official positions. Two days later, the Interior Ministry issued a new statement saying an international arrest warrant had been issued and investigators had been dispatched to Vienna, site of the OSCE’s headquarters, to nab him. The new statement said charges involving criminal association, economic crimes, and kidnapping had been brought against Aliyev. 26 May 2007, Rakhat Aliyev was relieved of his position as Ambassador to Austria and stripped of his diplomatic immunity.

Rakhat Aliyev was also accused of kidnapping a Russian TV executive working in Kazakhstan Artem Mikoyan Yarikov in the mid-1990s and locked Mikoyan up in a basement where he kept him and said to Mikoyan that if he will give him all of the money that he made from his position (estimated 20 million), he will release and to tell no one about the incident. Artem Mikoyan fortunately managed to escape from Aliyev to Moscow and never to come back to Kazakhstan again.[citation needed]

30 May, the Kazakh government formally asked Austria to arrest Aliyev for kidnapping and extradite him to Kazakhstan. Arrest warrants are being issued for others in the inner circle of this once-powerful man. 29 May 2007 his diplomatic immunity was removed. In a statement, Aliyev described the charges as absurd and said he was the victim of a political witch-hunt. 7 August 2007 a Vienna court rejected a request from Kazakhstan to extradite Aliyev and ruled against extraditing the son-in-law of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who is wanted on charges of kidnapping. The court said the Rakhat Aliyev would not be given a fair trial in his home country and his human rights could not be guaranteed if he were sent back home.

A criminal case against Aliyev and his accomplices ended in mid January 2008: abduction of three top managers of Nurbank in January 2007, the whereabouts of two of them is still unknown, and formation of an organized criminal group found guilty in raiding and document forgery. Almaty district court of Almaty sentenced Aliyev in absentia to 20 years in a high security prison with confiscation of property in this abduction case. The court also sentenced other people to lengthy prison terms. At the end of March 2008 Akmola Garrison Military Court found Rakhat Aliyev as a key person involved in preparations for a coup d’etat and sentenced him to 20 years of imprisonment.[42] Aliyev’s sidekick Musayev, the ex- KNB chief, was also sentenced to 20 years of prison term. Aliyev and Musayev were found guilty under the following articles of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan: Article 168, Section 1 “Seizure of power through violence,” Article 235, Section 4 “Formation and heading of an organized criminal group,” Article 172, Section 4 “Illegal acquisition, disclosure of state secrets,” Article 176, Section 3 “Embezzlement of some other’s property,” 251, Section 3 “Illegal trafficking of arms, ammunition and explosives,” Article 255, Section 4 “Stealing of ammunition and explosives” as well as Article 380, Section 2 “Abuse of powers.”

On June 17, 2011, the Vienna Provincial Court for Criminal Matters rejected a second request for extradition by Kazakhstan because it is not free from doubt that Mr Aliyev will not be persecuted on political grounds in Kazakhstan.[43] Kazakhstan requested extradition to enforce the previously rendered convictions by the Almaty district court and the Akmola Military Court (see above).

In 2013 Aliyev published a book "Godfather-in-law", in which he accuses Nazarbayev of being responsible for the murders of the opposition leaders.[44]


On June 13, 2007, Aliyev was divorced from his wife, Dariga. He claims that the divorce was carried out without his knowledge or consent.[45]

"Today I received the information where it says I am divorced," Aliyev said Monday. "They stuck a fax with the information through the fence at my home at a quarter past midnight. ... They even falsified my signature on the document."

Aliyev has three children with Nazarbayev's eldest daughter, Dariga. "I spoke to my wife on the telephone," Aliyev said, showing papers saying his wife had asked for the divorce. "She said: 'My father pressurised me very much,' and she couldn't do anything."


  1. ^ [1]"Former Kazakh Diplomat Aliyev Arrested in Vienna," Austrian Independent, June 6, 2014
  2. ^ [2]"Kazakhstan - Corruption," GlobalSecurity.org.
  3. ^ [3]"Kazakh Exile Rakhat Aliyev Applies for Cypriot Citizenship," Malta Times, December 24, 2013
  4. ^ [4] Austrian Times, June 6, 2014
  5. ^ [5]"'Murderer' Ambassador Targeted in Prison," The Local, Vienna, Austria, July 1, 2014.
  6. ^ [6]"Austria Arrests Top Kazakh Dissident Rakhat Aliyev, BBC, June 6, 2014
  7. ^ http://kazworld.info/?p=27810
  8. ^ http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/news/national/28709/investigators-told-of-rakhat-aliyev-s-alleged-money-laundering-network-20130729#.U7q8eVdBn5w
  9. ^ http://kazworld.info/?p=27810
  10. ^ http://kazworld.info/?p=27810
  11. ^ http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/news/national/30095/aliyev-s-hunters-accused-of-espionage-20130921#.U7a_k_ldWSo
  12. ^ http://en.tengrinews.kz/crime/Rakhat-Aliyev-no-longer-has-Austrian-passport-23967/
  13. ^ http://en.tengrinews.kz/crime/Rakhat-Aliyev-no-longer-has-Austrian-passport-23967/
  14. ^ http://en.tengrinews.kz/crime/Rakhat-Aliyev-eyeing-Cypriot-citizenship-24692/
  15. ^ http://en.tengrinews.kz/crime/Rakhat-Aliyevs-arrest-confirmed-by-Vienna-Prosecutors-254013/
  16. ^ http://en.tengrinews.kz/crime/Eurojust-and-Europol-called-to-investigate-Aliyev-25129/
  17. ^ http://en.tengrinews.kz/crime/Rakhat-Aliyevs-arrest-confirmed-by-Vienna-Prosecutors-254013/
  18. ^ http://en.tengrinews.kz/crime/Rakhat-Aliyevs-arrest-confirmed-by-Vienna-Prosecutors-254013/
  19. ^ http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/asianet/130411/rakhat-aliyev-malta-lives-fear-he-will-be-kidnapped
  20. ^ 2007.http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/27/world/asia/27kazakhstan.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
  21. ^ http://enews.fergananews.com/articles/2081
  22. ^ [7]"Updated: Kazakh Exile Rakhat Aliyev Denies Allegations of Torture by Former Bodyguards," Times of Malta, Valletta, October 30, 2013
  23. ^ http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/news/world/40793/rakhat_aliyev_threatened_in_prison_new_evidence_emerges_#.U7anvvldWSo
  24. ^ http://en.tengrinews.kz/crime/Rakhat-Aliyevs-arrest-confirmed-by-Vienna-Prosecutors-254013/
  25. ^ http://en.tengrinews.kz/crime/Rakhat-Aliyevs-arrest-confirmed-by-Vienna-Prosecutors-254013/
  26. ^ http://en.tengrinews.kz/crime/Rakhat-Aliyevs-arrest-confirmed-by-Vienna-Prosecutors-254013/
  27. ^ http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/asianet/130411/rakhat-aliyev-malta-lives-fear-he-will-be-kidnapped
  28. ^ ttp://www.maltatoday.com.mt/news/world/40793/rakhat_aliyev_threatened_in_prison_new_evidence_emerges_#.U7anvvldWSo
  29. ^ http://en.tengrinews.kz/politics_sub/EU-not-competent-to-investigate-Kazakhstans-Aliyev-26345/
  30. ^ http://en.tengrinews.kz/crime/Rakhat-Aliyev-no-longer-has-Austrian-passport-23967/
  31. ^ ttp://en.tengrinews.kz/crime/Rakhat-Aliyev-eyeing-Cypriot-citizenship-24692/
  32. ^ http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/news/world/40793/rakhat_aliyev_threatened_in_prison_new_evidence_emerges_#.U7tFF_ldWSp
  33. ^ http://en.tengrinews.kz/crime/Rakhat-Aliyevs-arrest-confirmed-by-Vienna-Prosecutors-254013/
  34. ^ .http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/news/world/40793/rakhat_aliyev_threatened_in_prison_new_evidence_emerges_#.U7tFF_ldWSp
  35. ^ http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/news/world/40793/rakhat_aliyev_threatened_in_prison_new_evidence_emerges_#.U7tFF_ldWSp
  36. ^ http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/news/world/40793/rakhat_aliyev_threatened_in_prison_new_evidence_emerges_#.U7tFF_ldWSp
  37. ^ http://www.rferl.org/content/Interview_Rakhat_Aliev_Discusses_Kazakhstans_GodfatherInLaw/1742575.html
  38. ^ http://www.rferl.org/content/Interview_Rakhat_Aliev_Discusses_Kazakhstans_GodfatherInLaw/1742575.html
  39. ^ http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/asianet/130411/rakhat-aliyev-malta-lives-fear-he-will-be-kidnapped
  40. ^ http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/asianet/130411/rakhat-aliyev-malta-lives-fear-he-will-be-kidnapped)
  41. ^ http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/news/world/40793/rakhat_aliyev_threatened_in_prison_new_evidence_emerges_#.U7tFF_ldWSp.
  42. ^ http://www.rferl.org/content/rivals_in_kazakh_power_struggle_take_feud_washington/24244658.html
  43. ^ Wiener Gericht lehnt Auslieferung Alijews ab Die Presse, June 17, 2011 (online edition)
  44. ^ http://www.rferl.org/content/Interview_Rakhat_Aliev_Discusses_Kazakhstans_GodfatherInLaw/1742575.html
  45. ^ Nazarbayev's Son-in-Law Is Divorced Moscow Times, June 13, 2007

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