Return of Illegally Acquired Assets Will Address Social Issues, Say Kazakh Deputies

ASTANA – Following the signing by President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of the law on returning illegally withdrawn assets on July 12, Kazinform news agency has published the reaction of the members of the Mazhilis, the lower chamber of the Kazakh Parliament.  

Photo credit: Thiti Wongluang/Shutterstock.

According to Mazhilis deputy Nikita Shatalov, this law should balance the continued establishment of a Just and Fair Kazakhstan and enhance the investment climate, calling it a “return of the stolen future.”

“The political implication of the law is that we are returning the stolen future. Kleptocrats took billions of dollars from us that should have been used for education, sustainable infrastructure, and diversification of the economy. Unfortunately, it is not easy to return what was stolen. However, the state now has sufficient tools to make the process effective,” Shatalov wrote on the Telegram channel on July 12.

Mazhilis deputy Snezhanna Imasheva stated that the asset recovery committee established at the Prosecutor General’s Office would transfer the returned assets to the Special State Fund to address socio-economic issues affecting Kazakh citizens and finance social and economic programs.

A new department at the Prosecutor General’s Office will check all previous and current suspicious transactions of money from individuals and government agencies, as well as banking sector structures. There is no limitation period, which means they can examine transactions and contracts concluded several decades ago.

“Persons with a net worth of more than $100 million will have to verify the legality of assets. These persons will be included in a register by a special commission led by social activists, deputies, and government members,” Imasheva said.

Deputy Yerlan Sairov said the law is fundamental and necessary, as it provides a precise mechanism to return illegally acquired assets.

“If the state proves that this asset was acquired illegally, it will be possible to seize it. Therefore, it is very important from a legal standpoint. There is a clear legal mechanism,” he said.

Maharram Maharramov, another deputy, said assets can be returned voluntarily and mandatorily.

“I hope those people will realize what they have acquired illegally and will have enough intelligence and wisdom to return everything to the state so that everything works for the state and the well-being of our citizens,” Maharramov said.

If a citizen refuses to return the assets voluntarily, the authorized body will apply the mechanism of compulsory confiscation.

According to Maharramov, the key provision in the bill is civil confiscation.

“Some have misinterpreted that civil forfeiture will replace criminal forfeiture. It will not replace either criminal or administrative confiscation. It will run in parallel, but it is more efficient. Today, the instrument of civil confiscation is widely used in the world. Developed countries like the United States and Germany apply civil confiscation. It makes it very efficient to recover illegally acquired assets because there is no presumption of innocence,” he explained.

According to Kazakh political scientist Daniyar Ashimbayev, the law will be applied selectively.

“The law is not intended for general use. It creates a mechanism for targeted work, which has been actively carried out for the past 1.5 years. Several people have returned their assets to the state. This was not without political pressure. By initiating this law, the President intends to ensure demonopolization through legal and political means. Taking everything from everyone would be economically wrong,” Ashimbayev said.

Get The Astana Times stories sent directly to you! Sign up via the website or subscribe to our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Telegram, YouTube and Tiktok!