Ex-Kazakh Banker Says He Abandoned Records to Flee Killers

(Bloomberg) -- The Kazakh banker-turned-dissident Mukhtar Ablyazov told a New York judge he can’t hand over documents sought by his former employer in a money-laundering lawsuit because he left them in the U.K. when he fled in 2012 to avoid being “kidnapped or assassinated.”

In a letter to a federal judge in Manhattan last week, Ablyazov said BTA Bank JSC, once Kazakhstan’s biggest lender, is also accusing him of failing to turn over documents that are already publicly available because they were leaked after a 2014 hack of Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Justice.

Ablyazov, accused of stealing $4 billion from BTA, is representing himself remotely in the U.S. case while living in France. He was jailed there for three years before being released by the nation’s highest court in 2016. Ablyazov has long claimed that BTA’s suit is part of a politically motivated campaign of retribution by Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbayev.

BTA and its lawyers “ignore the fact that I have left U.K. in beginning of 2012 without any documents and had to move around constantly from fear of being kidnapped or assassinated by the Nazarbayev regime,” Ablyazov wrote.

The former executive says BTA is wrongfully accusing him of failing to disclose the documents in hopes of persuading the judge to grant the bank a default judgment against Ablyazov or limiting his defenses.

Matthew L. Schwartz, BTA’s lawyer with Boies Schiller Flexner LLP in New York, declined to comment.

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