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Former Kyrgyz Banker Sentenced In Absentia

BISHKEK -- A fugitive banking executive has been sentenced to 16 years in jail in Kyrgyzstan for transferring hundreds of millions of dollars out of the country, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

The Bishkek court on April 7 gave the prison sentence to Mikhail Nadel, former directors' council chairman of AsiaUniversalBank, and ordered the confiscation of all his property.

Nadel was tried in absentia. His whereabouts are unknown.

Kyrgyz Supreme Court spokesman Bakytbek Rysaliev told RFE/RL that Nadel was found guilty of illegally transferring $465.18 million from Kyrgyzstan to various international banks from April 2-7, 2010. Rysaliev added that Nadel also fled Kyrgyzstan a year ago without paying $264,000 in taxes.

Kyrgyzstan's KyrTAG news agency reported on April 7 that Nadel had contacted it from abroad and protested the sentence against him. He reportedly said his lawyers are filing an appeal at the Bishkek city court.

Nadel claims that all the financial transactions from the AsiaUniversalBank to banks abroad were conducted by him legally and in accordance with all known regulations in Kyrgyzstan.

Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbaeva signed a decree to nationalize AsiaUniversalBank on June 7 when she was the head of the interim government.

AsiaUniversalBank is believed to have been controlled by Nadel and Maksim Bakiev, one of ousted Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev's two sons from his first marriage.

Former President Bakiev fled Kyrgyzstan in the wake of the mass antigovernment protests on April 7, 2010 and has been living in Belarus since then.

His son, Maksim, also fled the country. Both Kurmanbek and Maksim Bakiev -- along with 26 other former associates and Bakiev relatives -- are being tried in Kyrgyzstan in absentia for having fired upon, or given the command to open fire on, unarmed protesters in Bishkek during last year's protests.

Maksim Bakiev has also been charged with embezzlement.

Read more in Kyrgyz here