Kazakh tycoon sought by Russia, Ukraine to stay in French jail

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 22, 2013 8:41 AM
Kazakh tycoon sought by Russia, Ukraine to stay in French jail

MARSEILLE, France (Reuters) - Kazakh oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov, accused of embezzling up to $6 billion from his former bank BTA, was denied release on bail from a French jail on Thursday as he awaits a decision on whether he will be extradited.

Ablyazov, 50, has been in custody at the Aix-Luynes jail in southern France since July when he was arrested on the French Riviera. Ukraine and Russia have both demanded his extradition.

Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan brought charges against Ablyazov in 2009 after BTA, the bank he once controlled, was seized by Kazakh authorities and declared insolvent. BTA, which has Russian and Ukrainian subsidiaries, later brought a fraud case against him in Britain.

Before his arrest, he had been a fugitive for 18 months after being handed a jail sentence for contempt of court by a British judge.

An appeals court in the city of Aix-en-Provence decided on Thursday that the former banker, who says the case against him is politically motivated, should not be released for his own safety, his lawyer Bruno Rebstock told Reuters.

"Threats against Ablyazov and the consideration that he's safer inside prison than out motivated the court's decision to reject his (bail) request," Rebstock said.

(Reporting by Jean-Francois Rosnoblet; Writing By Alexandria Sage; Editing by Pravin Char)