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Ex-BTA Chairman Ablyazov Says He Didn’t Understand Freeze Order

Mukhtar Ablyazov, the former chairman of BTA Bank, told a U.K. court that he didn’t understand a freezing order against him in a case over the Kazakh lender’s claims he embezzled more than $5 billion.

BTA has asked the court to put Ablyazov, who fled Kazakhstan to escape prosecution and lives in the U.K., in jail for failing to reveal ownership of more than 600 shell companies and a Moscow tower during its fraud case against him.

“I didn’t have any intention to hide anything,” Ablyazov said in contempt proceedings at a London court today. “I did exactly as much as my solicitors advised me.”

BTA says Ablyazov and its former chief executive officer, Roman Solodchenko, took more than $5 billion from the bank using fake loans, back-dated documents and offshore companies. Ablyazov claims the case is politically motivated because of his opposition to Kazakh leader Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Ablyazov only now understands “what a freezing order was about,” he told the court.

Earlier in the day, Syrym Shalabayev, Ablyazov’s brother-in-law who was sentenced in June to 18 months in a U.K. jail for failing to disclose his assets, gave evidence via video link from an unknown location.

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