Kazakhstan seizes jewels worth $230 million from ex-leader's nephew

Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev looks on as he arrives for a Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) at the European Council in Brussels on October 18, 2018. Photo by EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP

Almaty, Kazakhstan -- Kazakhstan's anti-corruption agency said Wednesday it had seized jewels worth more than $230 million, in a case involving the nephew of ex-leader Nursultan Nazarbayev.

"As a result of operational-search activities, exclusive gems and precious stones worth 230 million US dollars" were seized, the agency said in a statement.

The agency gave no details on what kind of stones were seized.

It confirmed to AFP the jewels were found as part of a new investigation against businessman Kairat Satybaldy, a nephew of Nazarbayev.

Nazarbayev, now 82, ruled the Central Asian country from 1991 until 2019.

Satybaldy was arrested in March and charged with embezzlement from national telecommunications operator Kazakhtelecom and "other crimes undermining state security."

He was handed a six-year prison term in September.

Satybaldy is the first member of the Nazarbayev family to be arrested.

The anti-corruption agency also said Wednesday that $300 million that he had invested abroad will be "soon be given to the budget of Kazakhstan."

In January 2021, more than 230 people were killed in riots in the Central Asian country, their cause are still mysterious.

Current President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev had estimated that they were the result of a plot from abroad, saying "terrorists" wanted to take power, without ever providing evidence to this claim.

Tokayev, who is running for re-election on November 20, has since undertaken to strengthen his position and weaken that of his authoritarian predecessor.

The capital Astana, which was renamed in honour of Nazarbayev in 2019, regained its original name in September.


© Agence France-Presse

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