A Central Asian cargo tycoon at the center of controversy in Kyrgyzstan over massive sums spirited out of the country has invested tens of millions of dollars in European and U.S. real estate, a new investigation by RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service, OCCRP, and the Kyrgyz news site Kloop has found.
Khabibula Abdukadyr, a powerful but secretive Uyghur businessman with a Kazakh passport, and his family acquired these properties during a period in which they received tens of millions of dollars wired out of Kyrgyzstan by Aierken Saimaiti, a self-confessed money launderer killed in Istanbul last month, the December 23 report revealed.
The report is the latest in a series of investigations by the three outlets based on financial records and interviews Saimaiti provided to reporters before he was shot dead in a contract-style killing on November 10.
The previous investigations -- which revealed how Saimaiti moved money for the Abdukadyrs, illicit customs schemes, and the flow of dark cash out of Kyrgyzstan -- have triggered protests against corruption in the Central Asian country, one of the world's poorest.
Using land and company records, reporters were able in the latest investigation to identify at least 20 properties the Abdukadyr family purchased in Germany, Britain, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates over the past eight years.
These include high-rise developments in Dubai, homes in California and Virginia, and luxury residences in London, where the family bought a $6 million mansion in an exclusive, gated community.
One property, a residential development in Augsburg, Germany, has irritated locals due to repeated delays in the completion schedule.
The report found that the Abdukadyr family has paid at least $65 million for real estate in these countries, though the true figure is larger because records were not available in all countries and it does not include the cost of developing the properties.
Before he was killed, Saimaiti provided reporters with what he called a sham contract in which he agreed to loan $30 million to one of the Abdukadyrs' German companies. This document was cited as an explanation to banks for some of the millions of dollars that Saimaiti wired to the Abdukadyrs' accounts in Germany.
Abdukadyr and his associates have not responded to inquiries about their business in Central Asia and beyond, nor have they commented publicly on the media investigations into their wealth and operations.
Following the first joint investigation based on Saimaiti's whistle-blowing by RFE/RL, OCCRP, and Kloop in November, the chief of Kyrgyzstan's financial police said that the businessman had transferred close to $1 billion abroad from Kyrgyz banks.
While Abdukadyr has long kept a low public profile, he rubs shoulders with political elites in Kyrgyzstan.
Reporters discovered video footage showing Abdukadyr attending Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov's November 2017 inauguration, sitting in the second row next to the president's brother, Kyrgyz Ambassador to Ukraine Jusupbek Sharipov.
Saimaiti -- a 37-year-old Chinese citizen who ran what was, on paper, a small Kyrgyz company -- also alleged before his death that a powerful former senior Kyrgyz customs official, Raimbek Matraimov, was involved in an illicit customs scheme together with Abdukadyr's cargo network.
RFE/RL, OCCRP, and Kloop previously found that Matraimov's wife was a joint investor in a Dubai development together with one of the Abdukadyrs' companies.
Matraimov denies any wrongdoing but has not publicly commented on that Dubai project. He and his relatives have filed a libel suit in Kyrgyzstan against RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service and Kloop.