Galimzhan Yessenov (born 10 March 1982) is the chairman of ATF Bank, one of Kazakshtan’s largest lenders. He also owns Kazphosphate, a fertilizer producer, and is the co-owner of Asadel Partners PEF, a Singapore-based private equity fund.
In 2007, Galimzhan Yessenov married Ayzhan Akhmetzhankyzy Yessim at a ceremony in Dubai. Yessenov’s father-in-law is Akhmetzhan Smagulovich Yessimov, the former deputy prime minister of Kazakhstan and a close ally of former President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
Yessimov was the minister of agriculture at the time of the marriage and he has since become chairman of Samruk-Kazyna, Kazakhstan’s $60 billion sovereign wealth fund.
Galimzhan Yessenov acquired ATF Bank in 2013 for $500 million from Unicredit via his company KNG Finance. Unicredit had originally bought ATF from another Kazakh oligarch Bulat Utemuratov for $2.4 billion but the Italian bank was forced to write-off the purchase in the wake of the financial crisis.
Since Yessenov acquired ATF, the bank has continued to struggle with bad loans and received a 100 billion tenge ($260 million) bailout from the National Bank of Kazakhstan in 2017. ATF received a further bailout in 2020, prompting questions about whether Yessenov’s political connections had helped him to secure the state funds. ATF also benefited from large cash deposits made by Samruk-Kaznya, the sovereign wealth fund run by Yessenov’s father-in-law.
Galimzhan Yessenov was born in Almaty and raised by his mother in a single-parent family. His maternal grandfather was Shakhmardan Yessenov, a well-known scientist and minister of geology in Soviet times. Yessenov has established a foundation in his grandfather’s name: the Shakhmardan Yessenov Science and Education Foundation. The foundation aims to develop higher education, science, and innovation in Kazakhstan. It offers scholarships, research internships and arranges lectures on areas of scientific interest.
Yessenov started his business career at Seymar, an investment group run by Margulan Seisembayev. Seisembayev also owned Alliance Bank but it collapsed during the financial crisis and he was given a two-year suspended sentence for embezzling $1.2 billion from the bank.
Yessenov and Seisembayev are partners in a private equity firm called Asadel Partners, which is based in Singapore. When Seisembayev fled Kazakhstan after the collapse of Alliance Bank, his former protégé Yessenov negotiated his return.
Shortly after his marriage in 2007, Yessenov acquired a UK company called Kazphosphate, which owns fertilizer assets in Kazakhstan. The $120 million purchase was financed with unsecured loans from two offshore companies, which were described as related parties in corporate records. Media reports have claimed that the acquisition of Kazphosphate was funded by Yessenov’s father-in-law on behalf of political figures in the Kazakh regime.
Yessenov is president of the Chess Federation of Kazakhstan; vice-president of the Kazakhstan Triathlon Federation; and president of the Kazikhstan MMA Federation.
Yessenov is a politically exposed person according to the Worldcheck compliance database.