Kazakh oligarch Kenes Rakishev dealt with Shakro Molodoy
The assault of henchmen sent by the main Russian thief-in-law against restaurant keeper Zhanna Kim could end up in a different way – but her friend Kenes Rakishev has interfered and helped the caterer. However, now he also needs help – and apparently, much more powerful one.
In the story of the slaughter that has occurred on December 14, 2015 near Elements Restaurant on Rochdelskaya street, the protectors of restaurant keeper Zhanna Kim still remain in shadow. However, their involvement has resulted not only in the arrest of thugs who had arrived to ‘deal’ with the caterer, but also in the prosecution of thief № 1 Shakro Molodoy and three officers of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR): Denis Nikandrov, Mikhail Maksimenko, and Aleksander Lamonov. In addition, three police officers – Denis Romashkin, Head of the Criminal Investigation Division of the Presnensky District Department of Internal Affairs, Ildar Shakirov, criminal investigation operative, and Rinat Zinatullin, district police inspector – who had arrived to the restaurant after the police call but did nothing to prevent the shooting, have been criminally prosecuted as well.
To refresh background: the shootout in which two people were killed and eight more wounded has occurred because of a business dispute between Kim and designer Fatima Misikova. The restaurant owner was displeased with the performed work, while the designer had demanded her payment. Sources provide different amounts of the disputed fee: 8 million rubles ($133.7 thousand), 9 million rubles ($150.4 thousand), or even €600 thousand. In any event, Andrei Ital’yanets (Italian) Kochuikov, a henchman of Shakro Molodoy, has arrived with a group of thugs to the restaurant – allegedly, to collect the debt from Kim. Eduard Budantsev, a former enforcement officer and currently the chairman of a college of advocates, had opposed them with his own ‘support group’.
Based on the transcript of an audio record published by Moskovsky Komsomolets newspaper, Kim was not familiar with Budantsev prior to these events.
...Several men’s voices (people of lawyer Eduard Budantsev and, apparently, himself) and Zhanna Kim. (Zh – Zhanna; M – man’s voice)
M: Are you the owner?
Zh: Yes. There were design works here. There was a designer, money were paid to her. The works have been performed with poor quality and I suspended the salary payments.
Zh: They have taken their stuff and left. I had to complete everything myself. Now three strange people have come.
M: Who exactly?
Zh: He and these two ones without ID. 20 more people in black clothes were on the street. As soon as the police have arrived, they immediately fled.
M: The substance of the matter? Are they extorting money?
Zh. Negotiations are currently ongoing. Yes.
M: What amount do they extort?
Zh. 8 million ($133.7 thousand).
Dozhd (Rain) TV Channel claims that on these records, Kim calls Budantsev and his associates “people of Kenes”.
City of apples
Kazakh billionaire Kenes Rakishev and Moscow restaurant keeper Zhanna Kim have grown up in the same city of Almaty, former capital of Kazakhstan. Both of them are 37 years old; they belong to the local ‘gold youth’ living between at least three cities – Moscow, Almaty, and one of the European or American metropolises. According to some unconfirmed information, there might be something more than just friendship between them.
Kenes Rakishev and Zhanna Kim
Several years ago, Kim has relocated to the Russian capital and launched three catering establishments there: Keanu Bar near Patriarshiye ponds, Koba Bar, and ill-fated Elements Restaurant on Rochdelskaya street.
Some sources claim that the startup capital has been provided to Kim by Yuri Tskhai, a Kazakh Senator, prominent businessman, and father of her Almaty friend Natalia Tskhai. This is quite possible taking that Kim has gained the relevant experience while working the Director of Barbaris Restaurant in Almaty belonging to Natalia Tskhai. Other sources state that Kenes Rakishev has provided financial assistance to Kim. Furthermore, allegedly he has dispatched Budantsev to help her.
Retired colonel Eduard Budantsev used to serve, according to his own words, in the Committee for State Security of the USSR (KGB), Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB), Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation (MIA), Presidential Executive Office, and Ministry of Justice. In the 1980s, he had provided protection for Eduard Shevarnadze, then-Minister of Foreign Affairs of the USSR, then served in the MIA Regional Administration for Combating Organized Crime under command of Vladimir Rushailo. In 2009, Budantsev became a lawyer.
Later Rakishev had attempted to smooth the consequences of the shootout. Allegedly, he had offered large amounts of money to families of slain henchmen of Ital’yanets Filip Domaskin and Aleksei Kitaev. Officially, they were employed with a private security company controlled by Shakro Molodoy, and according to our information, the problem with their relatives has been settled internally by purchasing an apartment in the Moscow region for each family.
Natalia Tskhai and Zhanna Kim
So, who is this generous friend of an ‘ordinary’ Moscow caterer? Despite his age, Bakishev is one of the ten richest people of Kazakhstan; his wealth exceeds $700 million. Officially, Rakishev is the Chairman of the Boards of Directors in SAT & Company holding and Net Element company, member of the Board of Directors of Fastlane Ventures, and cofounder of SingulariTeam. In addition, until recently he was the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Kazkommertsbank, the largest private bank in Kazakhstan.
The person making investments into high-tech projects and developing the national economy deserves respect and honor – however, the public image of Bakishev in Kazakhstan is pretty controversial: the origin of his startup capital and unbelievable ability to be in the right place at the right time raise many questions.
Perhaps, this can be explained by his family ties. Kenes is a son of famous politician Khamit Rakishev who used to chair the Kazakh Chamber of Commerce and Industry for a long time. His wife Asel Tasmagambetova is a daughter of Imangali Tasmagambetov, a former Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, Minister of Defense, and currently the Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the Russian Federation. A few years ago, he was named the closest figure to Nursultan Nazarbaev, the President of Kazakhstan, and even his potential successor.
Rakishev knows not only whom to marry – but also how to choose friends. His friends and partners include President’s son-in-law Timur Kulibaev, husband of Dinara, the middle daughter of Nazarbaev. She is the richest one among his three daughters. While the older daughter was engaged in politics and the younger one was partying, Dinara and Timur were seizing control over most lucrative assets. In 2017, Forbes has again named Dinara Kulibaeva the richest woman of Kazakhstan. According to the Forbes rating, her husband is the most influential and third richest businessman in the republic. Their wealth is estimated at $2.2 billion.
Kenes Rakishev and Timur Kulibaev
The Kulibaev family owns the second largest Kazakh bank – the National Savings Bank of Kazakhstan Joint-Stock Company (Halyk Bank) – via ALMEX Holding Group. Other Kazakh assets of Kulibaev include Firma ALMEX Plus Limited Liability Partnership, Kipros Limited Liability Partnership, Mercury Properties Limited Liability Partnership, Aksaigazservis Joint Stock Company, etc. He also owns Kaspii Neft (Caspian Oil) Joint Stock Company in equal shares with Russian oligarch Mikhail Gutseriev. Kulibaev is the Chairman of Kazenergy Association uniting oil, gas, and power enterprises in Kazakhstan. In 2011, he has been elected a member of the Board of Directors of Gazprom Open Joint Stock Company.
Rakishev has vividly demonstrated his talents during the acquisition of BTA Bank (the third largest bank in Kazakhstan) characterized as “state raidership” by its former owner Mukhtar Ablyazov.
In the beginning of 2009, the bank has been nationalized due to political circumstances. These ‘circumstances’ require some explanation. A while ago, Ablyazov was in good graces of the President. In the late 1990s, being the Minister of Energetics, Industry, and Trade, he has purchased BTA Bank from the state for $72 million. However, after another dismissal of the government, he has demonstratively refused to go into the new cabinet. In 2001, he became a cofounder and leader of Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan political movement – and since then, his troubles began. In 2002, he was arrested, then fled Kazakhstan – while still remaining the majority stakeholder of BTA Bank. Ultimately, Ablyazov has lost his bank in 2009 and, according to his own words, didn’t get a penny in return. Furthermore, he has ended up with an indebtedness. According to the criminal case instituted in the same year, Ablyazov was charged with embezzlement of funds from BTA Bank in the period since 2005 and until 2009 resulting in damages to the financial institution amounting to $6 billion. In summer 2007, the Special Inter-District Court of Almaty for Criminal Cases has found him guilty and sentenced in absentia to 20 years behind bars and forfeiture of property.
While the Kazakh authorities were trying to return Ablyazov back to his home country, Rakishev has started in 2012 a raiding takeover of the bank. The scheme involved infiltration of his people to the bank management, its further reorganization, and purchase of the institution for next to nothing. Ultimately, the bank’s capitalization has dropped from $4 billion (plus $10 billion of foreign credits) to $1 billion of its own funds.
In July 2014, Rakishev and Kazkommertsbank have purchased from Samruk-Kazyna National Welfare Fund 46% of shares in BTA Bank each for some $465 million; as a result, the bank became a part of the Kazkommertsbank Group. By the end of 2015, Rakishev became the owner of the control block of shares (56.75%) in Kazkommertsbank. This enabled him to become the Chairman of the Board of Directors of this financial institution.
Interestingly, at the time of acquisition of a portion of BTA Bank, Rakishev officially had not enough funds for this. Financial reports of Sat & Company, the only legal entity he had the control block of shares in at that time, confirm this. According to information provided by the Kazakhstan Stock Exchange (KASE), the company was profitless: as of the 3rd quarter 2013, the negative balance was 1.9 billion tenge ($5.7 million), while a year earlier – 1.86 billion tenge ($5.6 million).
Finally, in July 2017, the goal has been achieved: the National Savings Bank of Kazakhstan Joint-Stock Company (Halyk Bank) has gained control over Kazkommertsbank. The ultimate beneficiaries of Halyk Bank are spouses Timur and Dinara Kulibaev who jointly control 88.45% of shares in the credit institution and also Yakov Tskhai (2.68%) – a brother of Yuri Tskhai.
Immediately after the deal closure, Rakishev has resigned from the Board of Directors of Kazkommertsbank.
...and Order of Akhmat Kadyrov
Of course, statements made by Ablyazov are politically charged, he has a bone to pick with the authorities. However, the existing facts make it possible to suppose that he calls Rakishev a dummy person acting in the interests of the “family” (no need to explain which one) for a reason. All his ‘venture’ projects have the sole purpose – promote his image of a young technocrat developing innovative technologies in the country.
The leaked correspondence between Rakishev and Arman Kasenov, a member of the Board of BTA Bank, dated by the period prior to the acquisition of the bank confirms this. Kasenov informs Rakishev about the published compromising material entitled “Secret mines of Kenes Rakishev” and fears that this may affect the upcoming deal. According to Kasenov, the best defense tactics is to distract attention by ‘venture gimmicks’.
And Rakishev uses this tactics. In addition to SAT & Company uniting over 30 major enterprises specializing in metallurgy, construction, machinery manufacturing, oil trade, retail, etc., Rakishev became a co-owner of Net Element, the first American company with Kazakh capital specializing in mobile payments and transactional services. In 2012, this company has entered the NASDAQ Stock Market. In 2015, it has acquired PayOnline company, one of the leaders at the Russian market of electronic payments.
Since December 2012, Rakishev is a member of the Board of Directors of Fastlane Ventures, the largest venture capital fund in Russia. In April 2013, he has launched, jointly with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Genesis Angels – a global venture fund later renamed into SingulariTeam. According to its stated purpose, the fund was supposed to identify and finance breakthrough innovations in the robotics industry.
The partners of Rakishev in SingulariTeam are private investors from China, Latin America, U.S., and Russia. One of them is Dzhangakhir Makhmudov, a Russian businessman and son of Iskander Makhmudov, President of Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company. This supports the version that Makhmudov senior, who, according to Alexander Khinshtein, journalist, former Deputy, and currently Adviser to the Director of the National Guard of Russia, has close ties with the supreme command of the MIA Regional Administration for Combating Organized Crime since the 2000s, could introduce Budantsev to Rakishev.
The first Instagram post of Zhanna Kim after the incident on December 14, 2015
Generally speaking, the defendants of Kim could meet each other under other circumstances as well, but everything is so unbelievably interconnected in the business world... In Russia, Rakishev owns only three companies established back in 2006: Sat Limited Liability Company (property management), Sat Moskva Limited Liability Company (real estate agency), and Sat Oil Limited Liability Company (motor fuel trade). Sat Limited Liability Company is linked – via a chain of companies and persons – with Gangam Stail (Gangnam Style) Limited Liability Company belonging to Zhanna Kim (currently all her companies are officially registered into other persons’ names) and Pyaty Element (Fifth Element) Limited Liability Company owning Elements Restaurant. Sat Moskva Limited Liability Company has ties with Diktatura Zakona (Rule of Law) Private Security Company belonging to Budantsev. Makhmudov also has ties with Budantsev – via TKH Invest Limited Liability Company. And the most interesting is that Kim herself – to be specific, her Gangam Stail Limited Liability Company and Keanu Limited Liability Company – have common intersection points with Diktatura Zakona Private Security Company.
Screenshot from Instagram account of Ramzan Kadyrov
Rakishev has some powerful friends as well – this may explain his bold behavior on an ‘alien’ territory. In July 2015, birthday greetings to Rakishev have been posted on the Instagram account of Ramzan Kadyrov, Head of Chechnya. Kadyrov calls the Kazakh businessman his “brother”, honest, and devout person: “He helps our people a lot, often visits me, and always shares with me all the joys and hardships. He is a well-known and respected person in Chechnya. The people call my BROTHER a prince. For his charitable activities and significant input into the strengthening of friendship between Kazakhstan and the Chechen Republic, Kenes Rakishev has been awarded the Order of Kadyrov”.
Who pays for the banquet?
Business operations of Rakishev have been criticized for a long time. It was reported inter alia that all his investments into Net Element have failed. Rakishev has invested there $65 million in cash and other assets and ended up with a debt in the amount of $140 million (as of the end of 2015).
Net Element stock pricing chart for 5 years
On February 3, 2017, Nursultan Nazarbaev has criticized the situation in the national banking sphere: “The banks are weak... They have to unite. Or the shareholders must provide their own money to save the bank. There is no other way to save a bank. They are needless for the economy, therefore, don’t have the right to life”. It is unknown whom specifically had mentioned the President of Kazakhstan, but ultimately the banks have been saved at the governmental expense. Out of the 2 trillion tenge (some $6.2 billion) allocated by the government for the bank resolution, the majority of the funds have been provided to Kazkommertsbank chaired at that time by Rakishev – the bank was undergoing a difficult triple amalgamation with BTA Bank and Halyk Bank.
Some political experts link the ‘honorable exile’ of Rakishev’s father-in-law Imangali Tasmagambetov to Russia with that episode. For Tasmagambetov, this means exclusion from the big Kazakh politics – while for Rakishev, this might be a tip that he must use his broad powers to earn monies instead of spending those.
Rumor started circulating in fall (with reference to well-informed sources in law enforcement structures, of course), that an inquest is ongoing against Rakishev and he may end up behind bars. The sources claimed that a recent audit in Kazkommertsbank has uncovered losses sustained due to the actions of Rakishev and amounting to $10 billion. So far, this information has neither been confirmed nor refuted.