ALMATY (Reuters) - An English appeals court has allowed a Moldovan businessman to drop a legal case against Kazakhstan, with both sides claiming tactical victories in a complicated legal battle that involves over $6 billion in frozen Kazakh assets held abroad.
The court ruling means that Moldovan tycoon Anatolie Stati and the Astana government will have to resolve their dispute in other countries.
Stati, his son Gabriel and their companies say they have been subjected to harassment from Astana aimed at forcing them to sell their Kazakh investments cheaply.
Kazakhstan denies the allegations. The Statis and two of their companies – Ascom Group S.A. and Terra Raf Trans Traiding Ltd - have won an arbitration award in Sweden of around $500 million against the Kazakh government.
Kazakhstan has refused to pay, accusing Stati of using fraudulent means to secure a favorable arbitration ruling and filing lawsuits against him. The Statis, in turn, have filed enforcement lawsuits in several European countries which led to large-scale Kazakh asset freezes last year.
Citing those asset freezes, the Statis this year sought to discontinue court proceedings in England, while Kazakhstan planned to use them to prove its allegations of fraud. The Statis’ initial case was denied but they appealed successfully against that ruling.
On Monday, both sides said in separate statements that the appeals court had allowed the Statis to end the case.
Stati’s press office welcomed the ruling and said the court had agreed that “the case serves no purpose in light of the multi-billion-dollars of attachments in force in other jurisdictions”.
The Kazakh government also said it was pleased with the ruling.
“We are pleased that the London enforcement proceedings that were commenced more than four years ago have been successfully defended,” Justice Minister Marat Beketayev said in a statement.
“Kazakhstan has achieved its objective in London; the Statis are not able to enforce the award in England now or at any time in the future.”
According to the Statis, over $6.2 billion in Kazakh assets remain frozen in Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Sweden.
Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; editing by Andrew Roche