Kyrgyzstan owes Latvian financier for seized bank - claim

Latvian businessman Valerijs Belokons has been awarded a compensation verdict worth $16.5 million from the UN Commission on International Trade Law, reported Dylan Tokar of anti-corruption news source Main Justice Sunday.

Belokons, who was allegedly linked by friendship and business interests with Maxim Bakiyev, son of former strong-man president Kurmanbek Bakiyev, at the time when he purchased the Insan Bank in Kyrgyzstan in 2007 and renamed it Manas Bank, had his assets in the bank frozen by the government after coming under criminal investigation by authorities after the revolution of 2010.

The Bakiyev family, Maxim in particular, was widely perceived as corrupted by power and money stolen from public funds, and the Republic of Kyrgyzstan brought a criminal case against Belokons in 2011. However, the Paris-based UN trade law tribunal could not establish sufficient grounds for the charges against Belokons and awarded the compensation on November 24.

Speaking to Main Justice, Belokons said he had hoped the dispute would be resolved in direct talks with the Kyrgyz state, but felt vindicated by the ruling.

“For me personally, the most important aspect of the decision is that it vindicates my good name and reputation,” the co-owner of England's Blackpool football club said.

On her part, Belokons’ attorney Audley Sheppard of Clifford Chance law firm in London told Main Justice “I hope the Kyrgyz Republic will take stock of the decision and realize that it might not be the right thing to do to continue to pursue unwarranted proceedings against Mr. Belokon that they haven’t been able to progress substantively over several years.”

The claim was filed under a 2008 Promotion and Protection of Investments Agreement between Latvia and the Kyrgyz Republic, but the Tribunal’s decision can still be appealed procedurally by the Kyrgyz side.

The ruling is now another of international arbitration resolutions coming down against the Kyrgyz government requiring it to pay back millions to foreign companies whose assets it had unfairly seized.

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Economy
Economy