* Lawyers seek to appeal against debarring order
* Ablyazov wants to defend himself from hideaway
By Kirstin Ridley
LONDON, Dec 4 Mukhtar Ablyazov, a fugitive
Kazakh oligarch accused of masterminding one of the largest
frauds to be tried in Britain, has asked the Supreme Court to
overturn a decision that his lawyer says denies him a fair
Ablyazov, who went into hiding after a UK judge attempted to
jail him in February for contempt of court, has instructed his
lawyers to launch a last-ditch attempt to defend him against
claims that top $5 billion.
London law firm Addleshaw Goddard, which has also
represented Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, on Tuesday sought
permission from the Supreme Court to appeal against a debarring
order it calls an extreme measure in British law.
"The sanction (of debarring someone from a defence at trial)
is too extreme," his lawyer Richard Leedham said. "It conflicts
with the fundamental right we all have to a fair trial."
London, with its tradition-bound courts and a justice system
globally respected for impartiality and integrity, remains the
venue of choice for the warring wealthy, attracting so-called
legal tourists from around the globe.
The drawn-out case between BTA Bank, once one of
Kazakhstan's top banks, and its former chairman has been one of
the largest fought in the UK in terms of the number of lawyers
BRITISH JAIL FEARS
BTA, creditors of which include RBS, Barclays
, Standard Chartered and HSBC, has now
brought a total of 11 fraud charges against Ablyazov and his
allies since the bank was nationalised and declared insolvent in
The bank, which is controlled by Kazakhstan's powerful
sovereign wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna, accuses Ablyazov of using
fraudulent loans and shell companies to line his and his
Ablyazov, 49, a former theoretical physics graduate,
entrepreneur and Kazakh government minister, denies the
allegations. He says that they are designed to rob him and
eliminate him as an opponent to Kazakhstan President Nursultan
Ablyazov fled the oil-rich state after BTA was taken over,
saying his life was in danger. He was granted political asylum
in Britain in 2011, but he says his security remains at risk.
If he manages to overturn the debarring order, Ablyazov
wants to defend himself without disclosing his whereabouts.
"If he surrenders, he genuinely fears for his life in a
British prison," said Leedham, who will not attempt another
appeal of the 22-month jail sentence. "That's why he has not
BTA declined to comment on Tuesday.
The latest attempt to derail proceedings against him comes
after a High Court judge last month approved BTA's request to
claim an initial $2.1 billion in damages from Ablyazov.
Because he is not expected to pay up, BTA is poised to begin
the process of selling some of his more opulent UK properties,
held under a worldwide freezing order. These include his
nine-bedroom former home in London and a 100-acre (40-hectare)
The bank's efforts to start liquidating assets it says
belong to Ablyazov are complicated because many are controlled
via a chain of companies using trusted nominees and holding
companies often registered in offshore jurisdictions.
The least contentious assets, however, include Carlton House
on north London's "billionaire's row", The Bishops Avenue, where
Ablyazov lived with his wife and three of his four children
before he is believed to have boarded a coach bound for France.
With a 50ft ballroom, mosaic swimming pool, 12-person
Turkish bath and car lift, it has been valued by estate agents
at about 17 million pounds ($27 million).
Oaklands Park - a vast estate in southeast England that was
once owned by U.S. computer billionaire Michael Dell - could
come on the block next, with its carp and trout lakes,
arboretum, polo facilities and large indoor pool.
In the meantime, the trial of the remaining defendants
accused of conspiring with Ablyazov to defraud the bank
continues in London. Should the Supreme Court allow an appeal
and then rule in Ablyazov's favour, a re-trial will be called.