Where did Akezhan Kazhegeldin’s family get the millions needed to buy their luxury London properties?

Akezhan Kazhegeldin is a former prime minister of Kazakhstan (1994-1997) who fled to the UK in the late 1990s facing a string of charges in his homeland including abuse of his official position, receiving bribes, tax evasion and illegal possession of weapons. Kazhegeldin now uses his status as a former Kazakh prime minister to promote democracy in his homeland, criticise the current regime and oligarchs who he accuses of stealing the country’s wealth.

Since 2000, Kazhegeldin and his family have been linked to at least six properties in the UK, each worth at least £1 million. The value of such assets appears disproportionate to Kazhegeldin’s status as a former public official, raising concerns about the source of his wealth .

Despite Kazhegeldin presenting himself as an anti-corruption campaigner , the former KGB operative has faced repeated accusations of corruption . Even the US Department of Justice alleged that Kazhegeldin received “unlawful payments” of at least $6 million while he was prime minister as part of a bribery scandal known as Kazakhgate .

Details of the Kazhegeldin family’s offshore ownership structure emerged as part of the Panama Papers leak in 2016. Email correspondence that emerged as part of the leak showed that corporate services provider Mossack Fonseca had serious doubts about the suppose source of funds for the purchase of a luxury London property by Kazhegeldin’s daughter, Diana Battaglia.

25 Wilton Street, London, SW1X 7AX

A building with trees in front of it

The Kazhegeldin family bought a luxury mansion at 25 Wilton Street in 2003. The property is in the Belgravia district of London, just a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace.

Details of the Kazhegeldin family’s ownership comes from the 2016 Panama Papers leak of confidential information from Mossack Fonseca. Using these documents, it was reported that Kazhegeldin’s daughter bought the 25 Wilton Street property in 2003 for £3.75 million. Its title was then immediately transferred to Zarek Investments Ltd, a company incorporated in the British Virgin Islands (BVI).

Radio Free Europe quoted an internal Mossack Fonseca email that confirmed Diana was Zarek’s beneficiary and raised concerns about the origin of funds used to acquire the property. The email stated “Mossack Fonseca are not reassured. They are told money to buy the house came from Battaglia’s $7.1 million (£3.25m) divorce settlement. But Battaglia paid $8.2 million (£3.75m). So, they ask, where did the shortfall come from?

Zarek was initially held through two Jersey-based firms, which in 2006 were replaced with two similar companies, with Diana reportedly the ultimate beneficiary of the whole structure.

In 2011, Zarek’s shareholding was taken over from the Jersey companies by New Zealand Trust Corporation Ltd. The latter was acting as trustee of The Venezuelan Trust , reported to be a New Zealand-based trust of which the beneficiary was Natalya, Kazhegeldin’s wife. [1]

The Kazhegeldin family retained ownership of 25 Wilton Street for some years. The property’s title register shows that on 23 June 2020, the property was sold for £4.5 million to 25 Wilton Street Ltd, a UK company owned by UAE national Ahmed Alsuwaidi.

28A Shawfield Street, London, SW3 4BD

UK property records show that 28A Shawfield Street, a terraced house in London’s affluent Chelsea district, was bought by Diana Kazhegeldin on 25 February 2021 for GBP 2.2 million.

Recent UK corporate records show Kazhegeldin’s son Magzhan registered at 28A Shawfield Street.

Flat 1, 6 Earls Court Square, SW5 9DP

Accounts filed by GTGW Management Ltd, where Kazhegeldin’s son Magzhan was a director, showed that between 10 February 2021 and 17 November 2021 Flat 1, 6 Earls Court Square was where Magzhan was registered as living.

The title register for the property shows that it was last purchased on 7 March 2018 for GBP 1.425 million. It is possible that Magzhan simply rented the flat before moving to 28A Shawfield Street or that the property was owned by another family member.

29-30 Bryanston Square, London, W1H 2DT

Alongside her ownership of 28A Shawfield Street, UK property databases show that Diana has been registered at 29-30 Bryanston Square in the Marylebone district of London.