US freezes assets of Kyrgyz fugitive Maxim Bakiyev

By bne IntelliNews July 18, 2013

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The US has frozen assets worth $74.4m belonging to Maxim Bakiyev, son of former Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, government officials in Bishkek claim.

While the US authorities -which dropped an attempt to extradite Bakiyev in May - have not confirmed the claim, Russian daily Kommersant on July 17 quoted Kyrgyz Economy Minister Temir Sariyev as saying that three US bank accounts have been frozen. The accounts contained $60m, $9m and $5.4m respectively, the official told the newspaper.

According to Kyrgyz officials, the cash comes from stocks and income from commercial banks, and was illegally taken out of Kyrgyzstan. However, without comment from US officials, the reasons behind the freeze of the accounts are unclear. The US treasury department and the attorney's office of New York refused to comment on the case, according to RIA Novosti.

Bakiyev - who is said to be widely reviled in Kyrgyzstan - flew to the UK immediately after his father's regime was toppled in the April 2010 revolution. The US authorities had been trying to extradite him from Britain to stand trial on charges of conspiracy to commit securities fraud and obstruction of justice. However, the case was dropped in May 2013 due to lack of evidence.

Bakiyev remains on the wanted list in Kyrgyzstan. In March, he was sentenced in absentia to a 25-year prison sentence for corruption. A Bishkek court found him guilty of signing deals that lost Kyrgyzstan hundreds of millions of dollars via illegal privatisation of state assets. Specifically, he was convicted for the illicit sale of state energy firms and public land near a popular tourist resort.

However, since Kyrgyzstan does not have an extradition treaty with the UK, he is not expected to be returned to his home country to serve the sentence. President Almazbek Atambayev has accused London of "hosting a guy who robbed us". Bishkek still hopes to recover assets from Bakiyev, and has employed US-based law firm Akin Gump to help with its asset recovery process.

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