Kazakhstan legalises €1.4bn in capital amnesty

By bne IntelliNews February 5, 2016

As of January 31, Kazakhstan legalised undocumented property and shadow capital worth KZT588bn (€1.4bn) in a special campaign, Finance Minister Bakhyt Sultanov has said. In the past two months, the volume of legalised assets amounted to KZT160bn, he added.

The campaign to legalise undocumented property and shadow capital was launched in September 2014. In late 2015, the campaign was extended for one year and will now terminate at the end of 2016. The reason for the extention was the poor progress of the campaign. According to original estimates, the government expected to bring as much as $10bn out of shadow. This target will be hard to achieve although the dynamics of property legalisation seems to be gathering pace as the data for the past two months shows. However, Kazakhs are rather reluctant to disclose their assets hidden from the authorities either in the country or abroad, given an unstable economic environment and concerns over political stability in the long run as the country’s authoritarian system has been built exclusively around President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The president, who was re-elected with 98% of the vote on a 96% turnout in the early election in 2015, has repeatedly said that he will stand for president for as long as the people "trust" him and his health "allows" him and has not so far named a successor.

This is the third capital amnesty launched by Kazakhstan. In 2001, the country legalised assets worth $480mn and $6.8bn in 2006-2007. In order to increase the awareness about the ongoing campaign, Sultanov ordered the regional and central-level authorities to strengthen explanatory work.

At present, the government is considering as much as 27,000 requests for the legalisation of assets worth KZT300bn. The amnesty applies to foreign financial assets, securities and stakes in foreign legal entities as well as to property located abroad and undocumented property in the country. Property and capital that were received as a result of corruption and crime will not be legalised.

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