Kazakh tycoon Mukhtar Ablyazov, the central character in a multi-billion pound fraud trial at the High Court, has been branded “cynical” and “devious” in a ruling ahead of his long-awaited trial.
The former chairman of BTA Bank, who fled the UK after being found in contempt of court, will face trial on Wednesday over a $2bn (£1.25bn) alleged fraud, part of larger $6bn claim the bank is pursuing against him.
The case will begin after a judge upheld the contempt of court finding that led a 22-month sentence being handed down against Mr Abylazov.
In his ruling on Tuesday, Lord Justice Maurice Kay branded Mr Ablayoz “cynical” and “devious”.
“Mr Ablyazov’s contemptuous disregard for court orders has not been limited to disclosure obligations,” said Lord Justice Kay.
“It is difficult to imagine a party to commercial litigation who has acted with more cynicism, opportunism and deviousness towards court orders than Mr Ablyazov.”
Although lawyers for Mr Ablyazov said they would appeal the decision to the Supreme Court, the ruling means the central case against their client can now go ahead.
If successful it would mean BTA Bank could seize billions of pounds alleged to have been moved through the UK and held offshore by Mr Ablyazov.
The case has been going through the UK courts for three years, since Mr Ablyazov fled Kazakhstan claiming he was being persecuted by the Government.
He was granted asylum in the UK in 2011. He has been fighting his case against BTA Bank since leaving Kazakhstan.
On Tuesday, Lord Justice Rix, one of the appeal court judges, said: “Mr Ablyazov, emboldened perhaps by the wealth at his disposal, which enables him to travel, hide and still instruct lawyers on a prodigious scale, continues to obstruct justice with an attempt at impunity for the consequences of this litigation.”
Mr Ablyazov is accused of using his position as chairman of BTA Bank to move billions of dollars out of Kazakhstan in fraudulent transactions. The bank has had to be bailed out by the Kazakh Government twice in recent years.