Serik Akhmetov, the former prime minister of Kazakhstan, has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and the confiscation of his property for corruption, according to a judgement issued by the Karaganda Region Court on December 11.
Baurzhan Abdishev, the former governor of Karaganda region, was sentenced to five years in prison and the former mayor of Karaganda, Meyram Smagulov, received a three-year prison term. Along with Akhmetov, Abdishev and Smagulov a further 18 former officials from the region and city were tried on seven counts of corruption, embezzlement and abuse of power, the evidence for which was presented in 338 volumes.
The targeting of a functionary who lacks charisma or an independent position, together with officials from an unimportant region, may serve as a warning to other, more influential, members of the elite about what fate they would face should they annoy President Nursultan Nazarbayev and his trusted lieutenants.
Akhmetov, 57, was charged and placed under house arrest in November 2014 after prosecutors in Karaganda launched a criminal probe into serious corruption crimes committed by former leaders of Karaganda region and the city of Karaganda, as well as the Saryarka social entrepreneurial corporation, Metallurgy-Metal Processing special economic zone and KazAgroFinance.
Akhmetov, who was prime minister between September 2012 and April 2014 and defence minister between April and October 2014, headed Karaganda Region in November 2009 and January 2012. He was also mayor of Temirtau in Karaganda Region in 2001-2003.