Mukhtar Ablyazov, the former chairman of BTA Bank, shouldn’t be allowed to appeal against a 22 month jail sentence because he is on the run and won’t reveal his location, lawyers for the Kazakhstan-based lender said.
“What we have here is someone who is playing fast and loose with the courts,” Stephen Smith, a BTA lawyer, said at a London court hearing today. “Seemingly he has fled the U.K. and if that is right he has committed another contempt of court.”
Ablyazov was sentenced to 22 months in a British jail in February for breaching a court-ordered asset freeze and lying under oath in a $5 billion fraud lawsuit. He went into hiding before the judgment was handed down and has since failed to report to court authorities.
The former executive has “persistently disobeyed the court orders,” BTA said in written arguments. “It would bring the administration of justice into disrepute for a man who has shown himself so ready to abuse the court’s process unconditionally to invoke it for his own ends.”
Ablyazov fears for his own safety, according to his lawyers, who said in court papers that Ablyazov surrendering himself to U.K. authorities “is without precedent; disproportionate; and contrary in principle to the European Court of Human Rights.”
Lawyers for the Kazakh bank said the fears only surfaced when Ablyazov saw a copy of the draft judgment of his sentence. He had previously testified at trial.
“He would take the view that any information about which jurisdiction he is in, is too much information,” said Charles Bear, a lawyer for Ablyazov.
BTA, which was the biggest lender in Kazakhstan before it defaulted on $12 billion of debt in 2009, filed a series of civil suits against Ablyazov and ex-Chief Executive Officer Roman Solodchenko claiming they took more than $5 billion from the Almaty-based bank using fake loans, back-dated documents and offshore companies. Both men have denied the allegations.