February 12, 2021 admin 0 Comments

Galimzhan Yessenov enjoyed a meteoric rise in his business career after marrying into Kazakhtan’s elite but his recent divorce has seen this process swiftly reversed.

The businessman, who is estimated by Forbes to be worth more than $500 million, was married to Aizhan Yessim, the daughter of former deputy prime minister Akhmetzhan Yessimov.

Yessenov’s father-in-law, Yessimov, is a close ally of former President Nursultan Nazarbayev and once the young businessman had married into the clan numerous opportunities opened up to him. Galimzhan Yessenov appears to have fronted several deals for his father-in-law and Nazarbayev family members but the divorce means those opportunities are now being withdrawn.

One example is Kazphosphate, a fertilizer producer that was acquired by Yessenov in 2007 just a few months after his marriage Aizhan Yessim. Her father was, at the time, Kazakhstan’s minister of agriculture.

Yessenov was just 25 years old when he did this deal and had no independent source of wealth but was still able to acquire Kazphosphate, which is UK registered, for $120 million. He was given unsecured loans from secretive companies operating in the British Virgin Islands and company records confirm that these lenders were related parties.

It has been suggested that Akhmetzhan Yessimov and his political friends may have financed the Kazphosphate deal and that the son-in-law acted as their frontman.

However, following the breakdown of Yessenov’s marriage he has lost control of Kazphosphate.  Corporate filings show that Yessenov gave his wife 50%, or 25,000 shares, in the company last March.

Another deal that came Yessenov’s way during his marriage into the Yessimov family was the 2012 purchase of ATF Bank for $500 million. There has been speculation that this deal was orchestrated by Yessimov for the benefit of himself and the Nazarbayev family.

ATF has benefited from its political connections while under Yessenov’s management. The bank has received at least two state bailouts and was given cash deposits worth more than $350 million by Samruk-Kazyna, the sovereign wealth fund run by Akhmetzhan Yessimov.

In a surprise announcement at the end of last year, ATF said that it would be merging with Jýsan Bank.

Jýsan Bank, originally called Tsesnabank, is part of First Heartland Group, which is owned by Pioneer Capital Invest LLP. Pioneer Capital Invest is owned by Nazarbayev University (16.06%), Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools (9.46%) and the Nazarbayev Foundation (74.48%). The sole shareholder of the Nazarbayev Foundation is Nursultan Nazarbayev.

It was confirmed in January 2021 that Yessenov would own 19.96% of the enlarged bank despite the merger being roughly of equals. Jýsan also confirmed that Yessenov would have no board representation, which is unusual for a large shareholder.

It appears, therefore, that Yessenov has been stripped of control of ATF and its ownership has reverted to the Nazarbayev clan.

Yessenov may have helped the Nazarbayevs in other ways following his marriage into the ruling elite.

According to an investigation by Source Material and The Times, Dariga Nazarbayeva – the former President’s daughter – was issued with an Unexplained Wealth Order by UK authorities after she acquired property worth £90 million in London.

The order was dropped after Nazarbayeva explained that she bought the properties using proceeds from the sale of shares in a sugar company called Kant in 2008.

The Kant shares were sold for $74.3 million to Gas Development, which was owned by Erbol Tymbaev and a company called Ardelis. At the time of the transaction, Ardelis was owned by Dinara Yessenova – a relative of Galimzhan Yessenov and a shareholder in his holding company KNG Finance. Separately, Erbol Tymbaev has worked with Yessenov at several companies over the past 15 years.

Gas Development was later sold to a company based in Ras Al Khaimah called Kingsway Limited, which was part-owned by Yessenov.

This has raised the possibility that Yessenov was used to secretly hold Gas Development on behalf of Dariga Nazarbayeva. The deal was done in 2007, the year Yessenov married into the Yessimov/Nazarbayev clan.

Now that Yessenov’s marriage has broken down, it appears that his father-in-law and Nazarbayev are distancing themselves from the young businessman and reclaiming the assets he held for them.

Yessimov Dumps Son-In-Law As Frontman After Divorce was last modified: February 12th, 2021 by admin

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