Kazakhstan: former economy minister sentenced to 10 years for corruption

Former Kazakh Economy Minister Quandyq Bishimbaev at his trial in Astana on January 8 (RFE/RL)

ASTANA (TCA) — A court in Astana on March 14 sentenced former Economy Minister of Kazakhstan, Kuandyk Bishimbaev, to 10 years in prison after convicting him on charges of bribery and embezzlement, RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service reported.

Judge Adilkhan Shaikhislamov also barred Bishimbaev from serving in public office for life and ordered all his property confiscated.

He also urged President Nursultan Nazarbayev to strip the U.S.-educated Bishimbaev, once a rising star in the energy-rich Central Asian country’s government, of a state medal called Qurmet (Honor).

Bishimbaev’s cousin Sultan Nurlybek, one of 22 other defendants at the trial, was sentenced to seven years in prison. The rest received prison terms ranging from two to four years, were fined, or were released with no penalty under an amnesty enacted in 2017.

Bishimbaev’s wife and parents were in the courtroom, and his mother prayed quietly as the judge read out the long verdicts and sentences against the 23 defendants. Her son was the last on the list.

Bishimbaev’s wife, Nazym Bishimbaeva, said the sentence will be appealed.

Bishimbaev, 37, was arrested by Kazakhstan’s Anticorruption Service in January 2017, weeks after Nazarbayev fired him. He was accused of accepting bribes when he was head of Bayterek, a state-controlled holding company.

The product of an elite presidential educational program called Bolashak (Future), Bishimbaev graduated from George Washington University in the U.S. capital in 2001 with a degree in economics.

Before his arrest, he had risen quickly through the ranks in the tightly controlled former Soviet republic, serving as deputy industry and trade minister and deputy chairman of Kazakhstan’s sovereign wealth fund before becoming economy minister in May 2016.

Bishimbaev pleaded not guilty at a preliminary hearing in October, while several of his co-defendants pleaded guilty and concluded deals with prosecutors.

On January 8, in his first remarks to the court since his trial began in November, Bishimbaev apologized to Nazarbayev and the country but maintained he had done nothing illegal.

Sergey Kwan


Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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