The Process Move Forward

By Alina Kantor

It seems that Switzerland seriously has decided to improve its international image by dealing with oligarchs with dark past, claiming to live in comfortable cantons. The Khrapunovs clan is one of the families, trapped under close focus of Geneva prosecutors. 


For those, who poorly know the story of this family, which comes from far Kazakhstan, I’ll try to describe it briefly. The head of this family – Viktor Khrapunov, a former top official, who held ministerial positions and the position of the Mayor of the biggest city in Kazakhstan – Almaty. In 2008 he escaped from the country. According to the official version he escaped from justice – today against the ex-official about two dozens of criminal cases have been initiated. According to Khrapunov himself the change of residence was about policy. He suddenly turned into democrats and understood, that he wasn’t able to work with the current power in a bundle anymore. 


Actually everything is pretty simple. By 2007 the politician’s carrier started declining, with revelation of old corruption cases. So Mr. Khrapunov was glad to pack his things and freely move to happy Europe for permanent residence. Although, he changed his shoes in Europe not at once. The spirit of free thinking captured the newly appeared adept of pure democracy only when in his motherland they severely and principally squeezed his tail. 


They remembered everything, selling of state lands in national parks, gaining great capital, also giving lands to relatives, involving the wife and the son into business, saying in legal terms “giving illegal preferences”.  


Khrapunov himself denies the evident. After Swiss tabloid “Bilan” estimated the wealth of Khrapunovs clan of more than 300 mln Swiss francs (310 mln USD), the escaped official gave up excusing. 


- We are well provided but not very reach – declared the ex-official during the interview for Swiss newspaper Tagen-Aizenger.  For the question, where did such funds of the modest official come from, he answered – his wife, successful business-woman earned so those. 


To believe him, he would have lingered out his life without enterprise of his wife. As what is the salary of the Mayor, by existing appetites, when 300 mln francs is not wealth at all, but an average level of well-being.


But where do the funds of the wife Leila Beketova-Khrapunova and of the kids come from, if they live autonomously, as being stated. From the same daddy’s contacts, dark corruption schemes. 


It seems to be unlikely that the oligarch’s wife earned the money independently. What were her possessions before appearing of Mr. Khrapunov in her life? Indeed, she headed private TV-channel. They say even that it was profitable, as copyrights on the eve of development of civilized business were violated overall. But it’s nothing comparing to the results of the business-woman after her successful marriage. Already after Mr. Khrapunov took the position of the Mayor of Almaty, a famous company “Viled” was established, which dealt with selling of jewelry and luxuries. The company in reality became a mediator between bribetakers and the Mayor. The jewelries bought in the shop were given to Khrapunov as a gift for solution of these or that issues, and then were returned to the shops network. And this is only one of multiple episodes of the Khrapunovs family story of success. Let’s list only several numbers, which characterized the situation the best. So, when being the Mayor, Khrapunov captured more than 70 land parcels and buildings, which belonged to the state, having registered those on front persons. Profit from those deals comprised 250 mln USD.


Should we be surprised that in July 2011 Viktor Khrapunov was announced for international search under the Interpol’s line, and in October 2012 Interpol declared about the search of his wife Leila. She is blamed under several articles of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan – fraud, money laundering, and also arrangement and heading of an organized criminal group. 


Today Swiss prosecutor’s office has initiated a criminal case on money laundering and against other members of the family of the ex-Mayor. In particular, the son of the Khrapunovs couples Ilyas, the head of a development company,  is under investigation. He became known as the author of Geneve-Plage project, which is now abandoned. 


The situation of the clan of nouveau riche is not the best one today. In the frameworks of initiated by Swiss authorities criminal case the accounts of the Khrapunovs family in banks Credit Suisse and Schroder & Co Bank AG have been arrested. This fact has demoralized the escaped oligarch.  As he was sure about his immunity and even applied for political asylum in Switzerland. And here this happened. The interview which Khrapunov gave shortly before the specified events proves that the events started developing per unplanned scenario. 


“No criminal cases have ever been initiated against me. I’m sure that the kind of cases shall never be initiated.”, - assured the ex-Mayor having in mind the loyalty of Swiss authorities to him. And evidently he was wrong.


Gloom, although, lasted not long. Probably there were forces which convinced Khrapunov that there was nothing to worry about – the criminal case was only formal. Indirectly this fact was proved in her blog by the nouveau riche wife, who severely attacked Kazakhstan, as if exposing the current authorities would suddenly “clean” the money stolen by her family.


The force-majeure happened as explained by Leila by that “in accordance with Swiss law the authorities of this country should reply the requests on provision of mutual legal aid, also in cases when they are sent by the countries, violating human rights”. But we shouldn’t treat this claim seriously. Switzerland never does unconsidered moves and gets down to things quite thoroughly. And if the authorities decided to initiate the case, having evaluated all advantages and disadvantages, then there are prospects and doubts about decency of the Khrapunovs family. Moreover, the Confederation had more than enough time to study the situation. Legal aid provision request was sent to Kazakhstan yet last year in spring.


So the conclusions of Leila Khrapunova are not more than the result of female logic, in addition perverted with megalomania. Judge yourself: at her web-site Leila Khrapunova names herself a business lady, who is ahead of time, and writes about herself in third person. 


This obviously is such a family style to consider everybody around idiots, aggrandizing herself to dizzying heights. Khrapunov, for example, at his web-site positions himself as “a politician, initiator of important reforms, promoting active participation of the Republic of Kazakhstan citizens in decision-making touching upon their future”, and “the one who gained deserved respect of Almaty residents with his work”. What can we say, in certain circles they indeed respect Khrapunov. Sure, to steal so much money and remain unpunished is the dream of any criminal.


Only don’t envy the escaped oligarch. Geneva prosecutor Jean-Bernard Schmid is famous as a person without compromises. And of course it is very important that the process moved and Switzerland has finally got concerned about who are the new millionaires of the Confederation. I think that we’ll know the reply soon and the law enforcement bodies will not be deceived by the attempts of defendants to transfer banal criminal case into policy.  As democracy should not serve an indulgence for criminals.