An IPO of Glencore International (a company that does its business in countries with high political risks: Kazakhstan, Russia, DRC and Columbia) is expected on the London and Hong Kong stock exchanges on 24 May 2011.
According to the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times, the company is planning to offer to the public between 15 and 20 percent of its shares and gain approximately 9 to 11 billion US dollars. We understand that Glencore intends to spend part of this profit to buy shares in KazZinc, a company in which Glencore currently owns 50.7% and thus reportedly intends to bring its share holding to 93%. Additionally, Reuters reports that Glencore plans to acquire 26% of ENPC (a Kazakhstan company) from Kazakhmys plc, whose shares are already traded on the London Stock Exchange.
As representatives of Kazakhstan’s civil society, we are concerned about the above mentioned transactions and suspect that the purpose of these transactions is to disguise a process of money laundering by high-ranking Kazakhstan civil servants.
The basis for our concerns is the current political situation in our country, specifically:
An extraordinary Presidential election took place this year in Kazakhstan on April 3rd in which no representative of any true oppositional party was allowed to run. In fact every candidate which was allowed to run against Nazarbayev endorsed him prior to the election. The EU proclaimed this election unfair. For the fourth time, seventy-year old Nursultan Nazarbayev was elected President, having gained 95.5% of the vote. Nazarbayev has been holding this post since 1989 and he enjoys absolute autocratic power in the country.
It is widely believed that Nazarbayev privatised KazZinc, Kazakhmys and ENPC in the late 1990s for his own illegal personal gain. According to our sources, these companies are owned by certain high-ranking, or former high-ranking, Kazakhstan civil servants, and, based on reports by certain credible western media, by President Nazarbayev himself via nominees.
KazZinc was founded in 1997 by merging assets of the three principal producers of non-ferrous metals in East Kazakhstan: the Ust-Kamenogorsk Lead and Zinc Plant, the Leninogorsk Polymettalic Plant and the Zyryanovsky Lead Plant (Bukhtarminskaya Hydroelectric Station was later added to the company). Bulat Utemuratov, the former Head of Administration of the President of Kazakhstan, is a co-owner of KazZinc. Utemuratov is widely believed to be holding these assets for the benefit of Nazarbayev.
Kazakhmys was created by merging Dzhezkazgansky and Balkhashsky Copper-Smelting Works, and is managed by Vladimir Kim, a former Assistant to the President of Kazahkstan - Nazarbayev. Recently, a power of attorney for representing Nazarbayev’s interests in Kazakhmys as its co-owner was published in the press. Similar allegations were detailed in a special report about Kazakhmys published by the research groupGlobal Witness.
The ENPC, which consolidated plants and mines in the chrome, aluminium and ferroalloy industries in Kazakhstan, is run by the following close associates of Nazarbayev: Mr Fattokh Shodiev, Mr Alexander Mashkevich and Mr Alijan Ibragimov. They are also suspected of being Nazarbayev’s business partners and representatives of his interests.
All of the above-mentioned Kazakhstan companies were created using pre-existing assets, which employed, and employ, hundreds of thousands of Kazakhstan’s citizens. These companies enjoy numerous tax and tariffs privileges and benefits from the Kazakhstan government. They invest their US billion dollars of profits abroad. In addition, these companies are given loans that have been taken in the name of the Republic of Kazakhstan from other states, such as China.
In light of the above and as representatives of Kazakhstan’s civil society, we wish to announce the following:
1. Upon any change of regime in Kazakhstan to a democratic one, any acquisition of any shares in KazZinc, Kazakhmys and ENPC may and will be subject to review as the privatisation of these companies was illegal and those guilty of any illegal privatisation will be punished under Kazakhstan law. After returning the illegally gained assets, the opposition to Nazarbayev’s regime will conduct a genuine privatisation of these companies.
2. All shares of KazZinc, Kazakhmys and ENPC, purchased by investors after this Letter is published will be purchased by them on notice and at their own risk, and the Republic of Kazakhstan will not indemnify the investors for any possible financial losses.
We call on investors and all interested parties to regard this letter as an official notice of, and a prior warning in relation to, potential losses stemming from the acquisition of shares in KazZinc, Kazakhmys and ENPC and of a likely re-privatisation of enterprises that form their parts.
This unfair, nontransparent and illegal privatisation of state property led to the situation where the national wealth of the country has been concentrated in the hands of a very small group of people with the lion’s share going to Nazarbayev and his relatives. History has taught us that this is an unsustainable position. All dealings with these assets – their initial handing over and re-sale – in the future, may and will be challenged in the Kazakhstan and foreign courts of law, as these dealings were conducted while breaking Kazakhstan and international laws, including in relation to money laundering.
In this regard, we draw the readers’ attention to the political risks that apply to any investment, financial and otherwise associated with assets originating from Kazakhstan, which were privatised in a seemingly unaccountable manner.
Serikbolsyn Abdildin, Kazakh politician, Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan in 1991-1993
Aldamzharov Haziz, the first secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan
Atabayev Bolat, theater director
Battalova Zauresh, head of UF Foundation for Parliamentary Development in Kazakhstan
Bapi Yermurat, journalist, editor of "DAT"
Vinyavsky Igor, editor of Vzglyad newspaper
Kadyrbaeva Aisulu, Head PF "Kuretamyr"
Ketebaev Muratbek, president of the Public Fund "Civic activity"
Vladimir Kozlov,politican, lider of the People's party "Alga!"
Kuanyshalin Zhasaral, social activist, writer
Ainur Kurmanov, head of the NGO "Talmas"
Sapargali Serik, a former candidate for president of Kazakhstan, Head of NGO "Ult. Ruch. Otan Zhangyru"
Tumenova Bahta, Head Public fund "Aman saulyk"
Sizov, Michael, editor of the "Alga"
Ukteshbaev Esen, co-chairman of the Socialist Movement of Kazakhstan
Kazahkstan, 10th May 2011