Kazakhstan: Rakishev’s BTA Bank Appears in Cohen Hearing

Kazakhstan: Rakishev’s BTA Bank Appears in Cohen Hearing

Kazakhstan unexpectedly became a focal point during a day of testimony by Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, before a U.S. congressional committee on February 27.

Cohen, who awaits a three-year prison term after pleading guilty to criminal acts while working for Trump and lying to Congress, disclosed that he had been hired by Kazakhstan’s BTA Bank to assist in recovering money allegedly laundered in the United States.

Republicans on the committee used this revelation to question Cohen’s credibility, arguing that he failed to disclose these contracts with foreign entities while completing committee forms.

Mark Meadows, a Republican representative from North Carolina, confronted Cohen about the lack of disclosure, specifically asking about money from BTA Bank. Cohen confirmed, stating, “I did.”

Cohen explained, “The former CEO of that bank had absconded with between $4 [billion] to $6 billion, and some of that money was here in the United States, and they sought my assistance in terms of finding, locating that money, and helping them to recollect it.”

BTA Bank, once the largest bank in Kazakhstan, faced financial difficulties under the leadership of opposition figure Mukhtar Ablyazov, who later fled in 2009. Since then, Kazakhstan has made significant efforts to extradite Ablyazov and recover the alleged $4 billion embezzled by him.

This incident is not the only connection between Ablyazov and Trump’s business interests. In January, Bloomberg reported that Ilyas Khrapunov, son of former Almaty mayor Viktor Khrapunov, attempted to conceal emails detailing efforts to buy condos at the Trump SoHo tower in Manhattan as part of a money-laundering scheme. BTA claims Viktor Khrapunov was an associate of Ablyazov.

BTA’s lawyer, Matthew Schwartz, stated, “Michael Cohen was recommended to BTA Bank in 2017 as a person who had access to the best legal resources and was hired by BTA to assemble a winning team.” Cohen received $300,000 before the bank suspended their agreement. Schwartz claimed Cohen provided no value, and the bank fully cooperated with investigations into Cohen’s activities.

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