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Exiled Kazakh Businessman Granted Political Asylum By Britain

Mukhtar Ablyazov (file photo)

Mukhtar Ablyazov (file photo)

ASTANA -- The fugitive former chairman of Kazakhstan's BTA Bank has been granted political asylum in Britain, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Former BTA Bank President Roman Solodchenko told RFE/RL today that Britain's Home Office has confirmed political asylum for Mukhtar Ablyazov, whose wife and children will be allowed to remain in Britain with him.

In his application for political asylum, Ablyazov said he would face persecution if he returned to Kazakhstan.

The bank is pursuing claims against Ablyazov in a U.K. court for alleged fraud of $4 billion. In January, the Kazakh Prosecutor-General's Office requested that British authorities extradite him on separate charges.

Ablyazov managed BTA when it was the country's largest private bank, but he later had a falling out with government officials and fled to London in 2009. The bank was subsequently nationalized by the Kazakh government.

Ablyazov has accused Kazakh government officials, President Nursultan Nazarbaev, and many of Nazarbaev's family members of being involved in large-scale corruption and embezzlement.

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