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Legal row embroiling Kazakh sovereign fund will come to court, UK judge rules

A multi-billion pound row between the state of Kazakhstan and two Moldovan energy tycoons will play out in an English courtroom later this year after a High Court judge quashed the latter’s efforts to have the case ­dismissed.
Anatolie Stati and his son Gabriel have successfully petitioned for several countries to freeze $22.6bn (?16.7bn) worth of assets belonging to the oil-rich central Asian country, including 40pc of its sovereign wealth fund, in a bid to force it to pay $500m they won in an arbitration case against it in 2010.
But they tried to back out of an attempt to freeze its assets in England in February after a judge said there was “prima facie” evidence the pair had won their initial case with fraudulent claims.
In a ruling published on Friday, Mr Justice Robin Knowles ruled the case would proceed as planned in October, dismissing the Statis’ claims they could not afford to continue with the action and no longer needed to as they had already succeeded in freezing enough Kazakh assets in other countries.
Legal row embroiling Kazakh sovereign fund will come to court, UK judge rules

The row centers on the Statis' former oil assets in Kazakhstan (stock image)
The dispute relates to two businesses the pair and their companies Ascom Group and Terra Raf Trans Traiding acquired in 1999, which held licences in Kazakhstan’s Borankol and Tolkyn oilfields.
They claim they were forced to abandon the assets after a campaign of harassment by the country’s government, including excessive inspections and audits and spurious legal action against directors.
The 2010 arbitration, in Sweden, found in their favour, demanding Kazakhstan pay out $500m, including $199m in construction costs, as recompense. But the country, which continues to deny wrongdoing, has so far failed to pay up, even after the Moldovans succeeded in freezing billions of dollars worth of its assets in Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden and ­Luxembourg.
It has since alleged that the arbitration was swayed by fraudulent evidence from the Statis, who it has accused of exaggerating the value of their investment in the projects.
Marat Beketayev, Kazakhstan’s justice minister, said: “We are confident that justice will eventually be served.”
A spokesman for the Statis said they “respect the decision of the English court but consider it flawed in a number of material aspects”. They will be seeking to appeal. Anatolie Stati started Ascom, Moldova’s largest oil and gas company, in 1994.
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