On November 6th, Qairat Boranbaev, a renowned Kazakh businessman with close connections to the family of former President Nursultan Nazarbayev, was released from custody as his prison term was converted into a parole sentence.
Boranbaev, once one of the wealthiest businessmen in Kazakhstan, had built his fortune on the country’s thriving oil and gas industry. His initial eight-year sentence on embezzlement charges, shared with two co-defendants, was reduced to six years following a retrial in Astana.
In a surprising turn of events during a new hearing on August 22nd, Boranbaev changed his plea. His lawyer, Daniyar Qanafin, announced that Boranbaev had admitted to embezzling 14.6 billion tenge (over $32 million) and had returned the stolen funds and properties to the State Treasury. Qanafin also revealed that Boranbaev was prepared to make a deal with investigators and prosecutors.
As part of this deal, Boranbaev voluntarily transferred state ownership of assets worth over 90 billion tenge, including the Comfort Hotel complex, a network of fitness centers, an oil-producing company, and an oil field in western Kazakhstan. Additionally, he made a significant contribution of 30 billion tenge to the Education Infrastructure Support Fund.
Boranbaev’s connection to the Nazarbayev family comes through his daughter, Alima Boranbaeva, who was married to Nazarbayev’s late grandson, Aisultan Nazarbayev.
The arrest of the 56-year-old tycoon followed unprecedented anti-government protests and coordinated attacks on government properties in early January 2022. Boranbaev, along with other associates of the Nazarbayev regime, faced charges of orchestrating a coup attempt.