High Court prepares to debar Kazakh billionaire Ablyazov

The High Court will debar Mukhtar Ablyazov, the Kazakh billionaire at the heart of the largest commercial claim of the year, if he fails in an appeal against a High Court committal order.

Mukhtar Ablyazov
Mukhtar Ablyazov

Hogan Lovells, which is representing JSC BTA Bank in its $5bn claims against its former chairman Ablyazov, applied to the court to have Ablyazov debarred if he failed to surrender himself to the authorities by 9 March and swear a fresh affidavit disclosing his assets by 14 March (28 February 2012).

This came after Mr Justice Teare found him to be in contempt of court because he failed to disclose the full extent of his assets to the court. The judge issued a warrant for Ablyazov’s arrest last month, sentencing him to 22 months in prison for failure to disclose the extent of his assets to the court (16 February 2012).

Ablyazov, who is being represented by Addleshaw Goddard partners Ian Hargreaves and Richard Leedham, failed to attend the outcome of the committal hearing, prompting speculation about whether he is still in the country.

Addleshaws was ordered to disclose the whereabouts of its client, but the firm is currently disputing the meaning of the order. It is understood that element of the case will be subject to a further court hearing.

Meanwhile, Addleshaws is expected to launch an expedited appeal next week.

According to sources close to the case, Teare J raised concerns that granting the debarring order on the basis that Ablyazov fails to surrender himself and disclose his assets could impact the timing of the mammoth four month trial that is due to start in November. This would be particularly problematic should Ablyazov seek to launch an appeal against the committal case sooner.

Therefore, the judge said, the debarring order will come into effect should Addleshaws lose the appeal. This will give Hogan Lovells client BTA the opportunity to enter judgment against him on the eight claims and bring an end to the dispute.

For more see BTA v Ablyazov: the secret billionaire.