Former Kazakh PM placed under house arrest

By bne IntelliNews November 19, 2014

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Former Kazakh prime minister Serik Akhmetov has been placed under house arrest, the Agency for Civil Service Affairs and Fighting Corruption said on November 19.

"Charges have been brought against Serik Nygmetovich Akhmetov, born in 1958, and Karaganda's Kazybek Bi District court has sanctioned a measure of restraint - 'house arrest' on him as part of a criminal probe into serious corruption crimes committed by former leaders of Karaganda Region and city of Karaganda, as well as the Saryarka social entrepreneurial corporation, Metallurgy-Metal Processing special economic zone and KazAgroFinance - Baurzhan Abdishev, Meyram Smagukov, Aleksandr Esse, Guman Rakhimzhanov and other individuals," Tengrinews reported, citing the agency's press release.

Akhmetov, who was prime minister between September 2012 and April 2014 and defence minister between April and October 2014, headed Karaganda Region between November 2009 and January 2012. He was also mayor of Temirtau in Karaganda Region in 2001-2003.

The Agency for Civil Service Affairs and Fighting Corruption didn't disclose any further information, citing the ongoing investigation. It's not clear whether his dismissal from the post of defence minister in October was linked to the preliminary findings of the corruption investigation in Karaganda Region.

In April, President Nursultan Nazarbayev replaced Akhmetov as prime minister with Karim Massimov as "the most suitable for ensuring efficient work of the government in the present conditions". Massimov was brought back to the premiership after the Kazakh economy started slowing down. In October the government reduced its target for GDP growth from 6% to 4.3% in 2014, because of falling exports to the country's main trading partners, Russia and China, and stagnation in the vital oil and gas sector following repeated delays in the launch of production at the giant offshore Kashagan field. 

In October, Akhmetov was replaced with Astana Mayor Imangali Tasmagametov in the post of defence minister. No official explanation was given for the reshuffle but local media reported that Nazarbayev cited the need to further improve the armament of the Kazakh army with modern weaponry.

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