Serious Fraud Office is investigating Petrofac ties, Ablay Myrzakhmetov is on the list as the likely middleman in bribing government
Serious Fraud Office from the UK side and Department of Justice from the US side are investigating a series of seemingly criminal episodes tied to operation of Unaoil and Petrofac. Those companies are present in the Kazakhstan oil exploration business for a long time. During the period of seventeen years an outstanding amount of bribes were paid to win a favour of local authorities. As more and more details emerge both in Petrofac and Unaoil cases the key figures are revealed.
According to The Guardian insight Petrofac has hired Unaoil to provide ‘local consultancy services’. What was disguised as a ‘consultancy service’ was in fact a link to provide bribes to Kazakhstan authorities in order to get lucrative contracts for a vast Kashagan oil field. Now as David Lufkin, a former Petrofac executive, pleaded guilty and both Petrofac and Unaoil investigation is gaining momentum we can guess who were the middleman from the Kazakhstan side.
Ablay Myrzakhmetov, a highly controversial figure in the cis-governmental circles, is likely responsible for the Petrofac-Unaoil-government connection. Ablay Myrzakhmetov, a former minister of transportation was convicted for corruption in 2003 but hasn’t served his five-years term. Instead he slowly regained power and is in fact one of the most useful sidekicks of Timur Kulibaev, the almighty son-in-law of the Kazakhstan’s ex-president Nazrbaev. Nazarbaev, despite not being the president retained all powers as ‘the leader of the nation’. His clan and Timur Kulibaev first of all is keeping a tight control of all oil and gas resources of the Middle Asian nation.
The leaked email correspondence shows that Ablay Myrzakhmetov is aware of the allegations. When local prosecution office has opened an investigation on the affairs he begged Nursultan Nazarbaev to close it. The investigation was exactly about the Karachaganak Field. It is what he wrote while trying to get the case closed:
…I have a kind request. Please let me know how Big Chief [codename for Nazarbaev -ed.] reacted to my letter. What he said about me? Several days ago GP [General Prosecution] has reopened old cases about Kozhasbay [i.e. Karachaganak Field – ed.]. 10 years have passed! Why do they do this, I do not understand?
Although the clues leave some space for speculation Myrzakhmetov’s involvement in the Petrofac/Unaoil affairs seems to be more and more evident. As investigation is moving further he and some other regime cronies will surely be the prime suspects. Serik Burkitbayev is mentioned in papers. He was jailed in Kazakhstan in 2009 for unrelated corruption charges.