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06.12.2023 10:44:45

The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on 28 November 2023 awarded BTA Bank JSC its attorneys’ fees incurred in connection with certain of BTA Bank’s claims against Triadou SPV S.A., a shell company used to launder money stolen by former Chairman Mukhtar Ablyazov and his son-in-law and co-conspirator, Ilyas Khrapunov.


The Court’s award of attorneys’ fees follows a three-week trial before an American jury that concluded last year with a verdict in favor of BTA Bank on all claims against Triadou SPV.  Based on the verdict, the Court had entered a judgment on 31 July 2023 against Triadou for over USD $193 million. The Honorable John G. Koeltl, United States District Judge for the Southern District of New York, presided over the trial and further awarded BTA Bank’s attorneys’ fees.


Following the jury trial, Judge Koeltl made specific findings of fact concerning the massive fraud and money laundering scheme orchestrated by Ablyazov.  Judge Koeltl determined that Ablyazov oversaw a multi-billion dollar theft by issuing “fake loans to offshore companies” and subsequently laundered that money through other shell companies controlled by Ablyazov’s “trusted associates.” Among Ablyazov’s “trusted associates” was his son-in-law, Ilyas Khrapunov. Khrapunov created and controlled Triadou SPV, which received more than USD $70 million in money stolen from BTA that it invested in real estate in New York City and elsewhere in the United States.  The American jury determined that this stolen money should be returned to BTA Bank.


In the Court’s award of attorneys’ fees, Judge Koeltl adopted prior findings of another American judge who also determined that “Some of the money Ablyazov stole from BTA was funneled through various shell companies to Triadou and invested in U.S. real estate with the help of Ilyas Khrapunov.” Then, “to protect the stolen funds from existing and potential judgment creditors [such as BTA Bank], Ilyas Khrapunov directed the liquidation of Triadou’s assets in New York.” When deciding that it was appropriate to award BTA Bank its attorneys’ fees incurred in connection with stopping the expropriation of assets from the United States, the Court found that BTA Bank’s attorneys expended reasonable efforts to secure the return of assets in the context of a “complex money laundering scheme.”


Renat Salykbayev, Executive Director of BTA Bank, said: “We appreciate the Court’s careful and thoughtful analysis of the record in this complex case following last year’s unanimous jury verdict in favor of BTA Bank. Not only did the jury determine that BTA Bank was defrauded by Mukhtar Ablyazov and that Triadou should not be rewarded for its role in the scheme, the Court has now determined that BTA Bank should additionally be able to recover attorneys’ fees and costs relating to certain of its asset recovery efforts. Awarding victims of crime their expenses is important to the administration of justice, because it properly puts the costs of asset recovery on the wrongdoers, like Ablyazov.”