Friday, October 12, 2012

Russian Investor Faces Murder Plot Charges in Kazakhstan

By Sergei Blagov

During a meeting in Moscow on October 9, President Vladimir Putin and his Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev hailed their countries’ bilateral investment cooperation. Nazarbayev, who traveled to Moscow to mark the 20th anniversary of the bilateral friendship treaty, said that Russian businesses invested in a total of 1,700 companies in Kazakhstan (The Russian presidential press-service statement, October 9).

But as Russian and Kazakhstani leaders reiterated pledges of bilateral investment partnership, actual developments in Kazakhstan appeared to indicate otherwise. Incidentally or not, also on October 9, Alexander Sutyaginsky, the CEO of Silicium Kazakhstan LLP, was detained in Almaty under some controversial circumstances.

Silicium Kazakhstan is controlled by Russias Titan group, based in Omsk region. Olga Nikiforova, Titan board member, said Sutyaginsky was arrested immediately after leaving Almaty economic court. According to Nikiforova, some unknown fraudsters forged court documents and filed a lawsuit in Sutyaginskys name, apparently aiming to take over Silicium Kazakhstan, Kazakhstans first silicon metal plant that cost $160 million to be built. After Sutyaginsky testified in court that these documents were indeed forged, he was detained by unknown armed people who fired warning shots, Nikiforova said (

On October 10, Kazakhstan's Interior Ministry issued a statement and disclosed that Sutyaginsky was arrested on charges of plotting a contract hit to eliminate an unnamed business partner. The statement also claimed that a Kalashnikov assault rifle and ammunition were seized at Sutyaginsky's residence (

As on October 11, Titan group declined to comment on charges against Sutyaginsky (

Launched in November 2010, Silicium Kazakhstan has been operating at about 20 percent of its designed 25,000-tons-per-year capacity. Nonetheless, Titan group used to describe Silicium Kazakhstan as a successful, “highly competitive project implemented in cooperation with Germanys ThyssenKrupp. Titan group also planned to build the Polysilicon plant in Omsk with a production capacity of 10,000 tons per year, relying on silicon metal supplies from Kazakhstan (

The incident came as an embarrassment to Omsk regional authorities. The local government was forced to put off its presentation of the Polysilicon plant, originally scheduled for October 10 (

While a merit of criminal charges against Sutyaginsky remains a matter of further debate, his detention obviously came at a very convenient time for unknown fraudsters who aimed to jettison Russian investors from the Silicium Kazakhstan venture.

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