May 18, 2011 / 6:33 AM / 9 years ago

Kazakh bank BTA asks UK to arrest runaway ex-head

* BTA says billions misappropriated under Ablyazov

* Fugitive BTA head earlier said wanted to join opposition

ALMATY, May 18 (Reuters) - BTA BTAS.KZ, Kazakhstan’s No. 3 bank by assets, has asked Britain to arrest its fugitive former head Mukhtar Ablyazov, from whom it seeks billions of dollars in compensation for alleged misappropriation.

One of Kazakhstan’s richest men, Ablyazov was part of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s inner circle and ran BTA, the country’s largest bank at the time, before he fell out with the state and fled to London in 2009.

After BTA defaulted during the global financial crisis in 2009, it was nationalised under a billion-dollar debt restructuring programme.

“BTA Bank has issued committal proceedings in the English High Court against its former Chairman, Mukhtar Ablyazov,” BTA Chief Executive Anvar Saidenov said in a statement.

“By those proceedings, the bank is seeking to have Mr. Ablyazov committed to prison for what the bank considers to be numerous breaches of injunction orders made against him in the court actions by which the bank is claiming over $4 billion in compensation.”

Ablyazov could not be immediately reached for comment.

He told Reuters in an interview last August he wants to work with opposition leaders to push for political change in Kazakhstan, central Asia’s largest economy and oil producer which Nazarbayev has ruled for two decades.

BTA said it was “seeking to recover billions of dollars ... which the investigations to date of the bank’s asset recovery team ... indicate were misappropriated under previous management”.

BTA said last week it expected a small increase in net profit this year after completing its debt restructuring in 2010. [ID:nLDE74B00L] (Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by David Holmes)

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