Kazakhstan’s former economy minister detained on suspicion of bribery

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ASTANA (TCA) — Kazakhstan’s former National Economy Minister Kuandyk Bishimbaev has been detained on suspicion of taking bribes, the National Anticorruption Bureau of Kazakhstan said on January 10.

Bishimbaev was dismissed from the post of national economy minister on December 28 by President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who then said that a criminal investigation had been launched into Bishimbaev’s activities.

Before his appointment as economy minister, Bishimbaev served as chairman of the board of the Baiterek national management holding between 2013 and 2016. Baiterek manages government stakes in Kazakhstan’s national companies and national development institutions. Earlier, several senior officials of the holding were arrested on corruption charges.  

Bishimbaev’s detention was announced a day after a court in Almaty said the head of Kazakhstan’s Unified Pension Fund Ruslan Erdenaev and the director of the Fund’s financial department, Musa Bakhtov, were arrested on embezzlement charges, RFE/RL reported.

The Unified Pension Fund is Kazakhstan’s main state-run pension fund for workers in both the state and private sectors.

Along with Erdenaev and Bakhtov, the chief executive officers of two private mineral extraction firms in Kazakhstan were also arrested in the case and placed in pretrial detention for two months.

They are Bakytzhan Kenzhebaev from the firm AlatauMunaiAltyn and Azat Naizagarin from the Buzgul Aurum company.

Kazakhstan’s Committee for National Security said that it launched an investigation on December 21 into the alleged illegal investment by the Unified Pension Fund of 5 billion tenges — more than $14.8 million — into the activities of the AlatauMunaiAltyn and Buzgul Aurum companies.

Sergey Kwan

TCA