Sunday, Feb 25, 2024

UK Ministers told to freeze Kazakh assets worth £600m after protesters gunned down

UK Ministers told to freeze Kazakh assets worth £600m after protesters gunned down

Tory MP Tom Tugendhat is calling to profit from the situation as an sanctions in the wake of a brutal crackdown ordered by president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev
Ministers have been urged to freeze more than £600m of UK assets owned by Kazakhstan’s ruling elites after the country’s government opened fire on protesters in the streets.

Amid violent unrest over surging energy prices and corruption, Kazakh president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev told soldiers to “open fire with lethal force”.

The brutal crackdown has prompted calls for the Government to consider sanctions on properties and other wealth held in the UK by the regime’s top figures and their allies.

Sprawling mansions in central London and Surrey are among the properties owned by the Kazakh elite. Assets worth £370m are owned by the family of former president Nursultan Nazarbayev, according to Transparency International.

Tom Tugendhat, the Tory MP who chairs the Foreign Affairs Committee, said the Government should consider sanctioning such assets.

“Those who violate the human rights of their citizens should not be able to enjoy the privilege of holding wealth in the UK,” he said. “We need to be clear with the Kazakh elites that their actions will be scrutinised and their assets are in jeopardy.”

Tory MP Andrew Murrison, a former foreign minister, also called for ministers to be “far more robust” in their defence of pro-democracy forces in the country.

Properties amassed by Kazakh elites include a mansion on “billionaire’s row” in Hampstead, north London, owned by Dariga Nazarbayeva, a senior politician and daughter of Nazarbayev, and Nurali Aliyev, her son.

Meanwhile, Timur Kulibayev, a powerful gas oligarch who is married to another of Nazarbayev’s daughters, owns a sprawling mansion in Surrey. It is built on the site of Sunningwell Park, near Windsor Castle, that was bought from Prince Andrew for £15m.

Duncan Hames, director of policy at Transparency International UK, said the true British property portfolio of Kazakh figures was likely to exceed £600m because some were concealed by complicated ownership structures.

Liz Truss, the Foreign Secretary, has condemned violence in Kazakhstan but stopped short of promising action.

Professor John Heathershaw, an expert in central Asia politics at the University of Exeter, said: “The test for the British government is … whether it's willing to bring sanctions against members of the elite who may still have some influence in a country which regards us as an ally and where we are one of the top five trading partners.”

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