Moldovan investor wins another lawsuit against Kazakhstan
Judicial proceedings against Kazakhstan and its former foreign investor Anatoli Stati, who has lost his assets in the republic, are ongoing. The conflict of the Kazakh authorities with businessman Stati from Moldova, who worked in the republic's oil and gas sector in 2000s, has gone on since 2010.The 'Stati' trials are progressing in different countries, most rulings went in favor of the Moldovan investor. Astana contests these decisions. Recently, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of Stati and his company Ascom in a dispute with Kazakhstan. Stati accused Astana of having seized his property illegally and claimed damages of $4 billion. Kazakhstan calls Stati a swindler and is not going to pay him.
Stati invested over $150 million in Kazakhstan's oil and gas industry. He was accused of embezzlement: according to some data, he overestimated the cost of building a gas processing plant by entering into fictitious contracts, according to others - he pumped oil without permission and embezzled some $1 million. In January 2013, the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce found that Kazakhstan violated the Energy Charter Treaty and ordered the government to pay Stati $500 million in damages, but Kazakhstan refused to pay.
In March 2018, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled in favor of Stati and ordered that $520 million must be paid. Astana insists that there was fraud on Stati's part. In May 2018, the court of first instance in Brussels lifted a freeze on about $21.5 billion in the Kazakh National Fund assets and ordered that they could lifted the freeze on the remaining $530 million depending on a ruling by a British court.
Astana believes that the final verdict is not yet near, since Stati was forced to leave London, the Kazakh Minister of Justice Marat Beketayev said. According to him, the process is underway in seven jurisdictions. "On the whole, I would assess the situation as favorable. Stati was forced to leave London. He tried to present his departure as a free right to refuse. Allegedly, he has security and good chances in other jurisdictions, so he does not want to spend resources on English jurisdiction," Beketaev said.
In the meantime, in the course of the UK trial, the High Court of Justice in England, after presenting extensive arguments by Kazakhstan, acknowledged the existence of considerable evidence of Stati’s fraud and ordered a new trial on this issue. This was reported by the Kazakh Ministry of Justice, noting that the U.S. District Court did not allow the Republic of Kazakhstan to present an argument about fraud in support of its defense. The Republic of Kazakhstan intends to appeal this decision and protect its legal rights. The trial continues.
Ex-deputy of the Moldovan parliament, political scientist Zurab Todua told Vestnik Kavkaza about Stati. Moldavian oligarch Anatol Stati is a very interesting and in many ways mysterious person. He is actually the only Moldovan businessman who managed to create not just some penny tomato, apple or wine business abroad, but a serious one related to oil and gas. In the late 1990s, he somehow managed to squeeze into the Kazakh oil and gas industry. Perhaps, under the patronage of former Moldovan President Petru Lucinschi. He has invested heavily in the development of two oil and gas condensate fields - Tolkyn and Borankol in the Mangystau region. In 2005, the construction of the Borankol gas processing plant was started in Mangistau. The project was estimated at $176.5 million. and was funded by Stati'sTristan Oil. The businessman allegedly managed to invest $156.2 million in the construction through the subsidiary company Tolkynneftegaz.
At the same time, Stati has started to seek solutions to reach the Middle East and, after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, he entered Iraq as well. Stati’s relations did not work out with Moldovan communists who were in power from 2001 to 2009. In 2008, Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin addressed Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev with an official letter in which he asked to deal with the legality of Stati's business operations and property in this country. Apparently, the Kazakh authorities liked this appeal. In any case, Stati was soon forced to leave Kazakhstan in a hurry and with great losses. The businessman did not forgive Voronin - according to available data, he actively supported the April 7, 2009 rebellion in Moldova, as a result of which the buildings of the parliament and the presidential office were burned down. A few months later the Communist Party lost power in Moldova.
All this time Anatoli Stati has been a wallflower. Unlike other Moldovan billionaire Vlad Plahotniuc, he didn't go into public policy. Stati's name rarely appears in the media, he avoids public events, avoids being on television. His son Gabriel, who did not hide his craving for luxurious life, which was obvious in poor Moldova and irritated the society, caused some discomfort for him. However, in recent years, Gabriel has started to follow his father's steps and withdrew into the shadows. "But a few years ago, the embassy of Qatar, one of the richest states in the world, suddenly opened in Chisinau's most prestigious place - the area of Komsomolskoye Lake. One can only wonder about the interests linking Moldova and Qatar. But it's obvious that these are large-scale business interests of the oligarchs of the two states. Moldova is most likely represented by Anatoli Stati - there are no other businessmen of such level in Moldova with interests in Qatar. The reports that Kazakhstan has problems with its billion-dollar assets abroad are not surprising. Anatoli Stati did not forget how he was treated there. All this time, he probably was preparing, hired strong lawyers who worked out the issue patiently and thoroughly. The result is obvious. It seems that Kazakhstan will have quite serious problems. Stati's lawsuits against Kazakhstan are very beneficial to the West for many reasons. First of all, it is an opportunity to exert powerful pressure on Astana and try to force it to be more receptive to advice and guidance from Washington and Brussels.
The fact that the U.S. court rejected Astana’s attempts to avoid their obligations under the Energy Charter Charter to pay $525 million in damages was not accidental. The Kazakh authorities have not yet commented on this decision.