BISHKEK (TCA) — Early in the morning of June 22, police officers cordoned off the Ak-Keme hotel in Bishkek. All the hotel employees were taken out of the building and inventory of the hotel property began.
President of the Hotel Ak-Keme LLC Ruslan Sarymsakov said it was a raider capture. The police did not submit any documents and referred to a verbal order of their leadership, he added. The hotel management believes that there is a corruption conspiracy between the Prosecutor General’s Office, authorities and judicial bodies.
According to the hotel employees, the policemen broke the entrance door with a crowbar. Because of the police cordon, employees of several Russian publications, including the Rossia media center, the Argumenty i Fakty daily, the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily, and News Asia IA could not get to their workplaces in the hotel building.
The hotel was built for a Turkish loan obtained by the Kyrgyz Government about twenty years ago. Since then, there were numerous legal proceedings concerning the hotel’s ownership.
The government comments
Head of the State Property Management Fund (SPMF) under the Kyrgyz Government, Bolsunbek Kazakov, believes that there was no seizure of the hotel. “It was registered as a state property according to the Government’s decision. We repeatedly sent letters to the hotel management to transfer it to the State but there was no response, and therefore we had to take extreme measures,” Kazakov said.
On June 22, at 06:00 am, the SPMF together with law enforcement agencies (in order to ensure public order) took over the hotel Ak-Keme, he said.
After carrying out the property inventory, the hotel will work in a regular mode, and employees will remain at their former workplaces. All the events planned earlier to be held at the hotel, including the Asian Snooker Championship, will take place, there will be no breakdowns, the SPMF said.
The Hotel Ak-Keme, a Kyrgyz-Malaysian joint enterprise, was transferred to the Ministry of Finance of the Kyrgyz Republic in order to repay the hotel’s debt to the Ministry worth 452.48 million soms in accordance with the decision of the Inter-District Court of Bishkek from October 5, 2012, the SPMF said.
From the moment of registration of the state ownership right, the Fund, as the owner, has the right to take measures on hotel management and use its properties.
By a Government decree of February 3, 2017, the Finance Ministry transferred Ak-Keme to the State Property Management Fund. In March 2017, the State Agency for Registration of Rights for Immovable Property under the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic registered it as state property.
By the SPMF decision, the hotel was transferred to the Mulk State Enterprise. According to the Mulk head Orozbek Nusuvaliev, they intend to negotiate with the former Ak-Keme leadership to resolve all issues. The hotel employees refused to obey them persuaded by the previous leadership.
The Mulk state enterprise was created to preserve and further use properties confiscated by the state and other facilities under disputes.
The lawsuits around the Ak-Keme Hotel have been going on for almost 20 years. In the early 1990s, Turkey provided Kyrgyzstan with a $49.2 million loan, half of which was allocated as loans to commercial entities, including the Pinara hotel (the former name of Ak-Keme), for the hotel’s construction. In 1993, $8.7 million was spent for it. The project was implemented by the Ak-Keme JSC headed by Ruslan Sarymsakov (who acted as a customer) and the Turkish company, System Mühendislik Inshaat ve Tijaret A.Sh.
The hotel was under the management of the Turkish company but after the revolution of 2005 it passed to Sarymsakov. The Turkish side considered the takeover a raider capture and appealed to the Geneva court, which ordered Kyrgyzstan to pay $11 million to the plaintiff.
Later, the Kyrgyz Ministry of Finance said that the country’s budget had suffered a considerable damage because of the proceedings around the Ak-Keme hotel, and filed a $10 million lawsuit against the hotel’s owners. The local court decided in favor of the Ministry, and the hotel was twice put up for auction. The starting price was 955.8 million soms and on the eve of the second auction in the autumn 2016, the cost of the hotel was decreased by 10%. Both auctions failed, and the hotel was transferred to the Finance Ministry.
In 2012, by a Bishkek Court decision, Ak-Keme had to repay a 452.48 million som debt in favor of the Ministry of Finance. After lengthy legal proceedings, the court imposed arrests on the property of the Hotel Ak-Keme LLC and on all its accounts in commercial banks of Kyrgyzstan.
The lawyer of the hotel management Toktaym Umetalieva believes that the state bodies do not have a corresponding court decision, and there was a raider’s seizure of the hotel, Vesti.kg reported.
The SPMF employees illegally invaded the hotel without the participation of a bailiff, which is contrary to the legislation of the Kyrgyz Republic, she said.
These actions of state bodies and law enforcement agencies badly affect the image of the country, because among the Ak-Keme tenants there are representatives of Russian and foreign companies, she added.
According to the decree of Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbai Jeenbekov, the Finance Ministry can claim the plot of land only, but not the hotel itself, the lawyer said. In addition, neither the Finance Ministry nor the Property Fund was able to provide evidence that the hotel management caused financial damage to the State, she said.
The Ak-Keme management intends to apply to the General Prosecutor’s Office and international courts.