Mike Eckel & Sarah Alikhan – Big Houses, Deep Pockets | The Nazarbaev Family’s Opulent Offshore Real Estate Empire

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Big Houses, Deep Pockets | The Nazarbaev Family’s Opulent Offshore Real Estate Empire

Geneva – In the gentle dawn of Switzerland’s late summer, Lake Geneva’s ripples lap against the properties on the eastern shore in the suburb of Anières, home to diplomats, bankers, and well to do Swiss.

Some of the buildings are understated in their wealth, with slate shingles or mansard roofs or Corinthian columns. Some have gazebos on manicured lawns looking west to the Jura Mountains, or docks where motorboats and kayaks are parked. Many have gates and surveillance cameras to protect from curious passersby.

And then there’s the property at N° 399 Route D’Hermance: a 3,200 square meter three level villa with a butterfly staircase, a 25 meter indoor outdoor swimming pool, spa, guest quarters, and terraced landscaping.

In an area known for having some of the most expensive housing in the region, it’s an exceptional property.

The owner of the estate, according to Swiss property records, is Dinara Kulibaeva, the daughter of Kazakhstan’s longtime ruler, Nursultan Nazarbaev. She and her husband, Timur Kulibaev, who are among Kazakhstan’s wealthiest people, purchased the villa in 2009 for a reported $75 million.

And they are among several immediate and extended relatives of Nazarbaev who own lavish real estate in the West.

Over the past two decades, relatives of Nazarbaev have purchased hundreds of millions of dollars in posh real estate in Europe and the United States, a string of high end properties on luxurious lakesides, amid Manhattan’s skyscrapers, London’s tony suburbs, and overlooking the azure waters of Spain’s Costa Brava.

A new RFE | RL investigation provides the most comprehensive overview to date of the properties in this sprawling real estate network linked to Nazarbaev’s relatives, including two of his daughters, his grandsons, and his brother.

The findings are not an exhaustive record of every foreign property owned by a relative of the former Kazakh president, who was officially granted the title “Leader of the Nation” in 2010 and currently serves as chairman of the country’s powerful Security Council and heads its ruling political party.

Nursultan Nazarbaev

But they offer an unprecedented window into the scale of the real estate investments by Nazarbaev’s relatives, and how many in close proximity to Kazakhstan’s ruling family ended up with luxury assets in exclusive locations.

RFE/RL identified at least $785 million in European and US real estate purchases made by Nazarbaev’s family members and their in laws in six countries over a 20 year span. This figure includes a handful of properties that have since been sold, including multimillion dollar apartments in the United States bought by Nazarbaev’s brother, Bolat. It does not include a sprawling Spanish estate owned by Kulibaev, for which a purchase price could not be found.

These acquisitions have been funded by the vast fortunes Nazarbaev’s relatives have amassed in the oil rich nation’s energy, banking, and other sectors, while at various times also serving in official government posts.

Nazarbaev’s patronage is widely seen as crucial to the wealth built by his relatives, who have repeatedly and vehemently insisted they are successful businesspeople independent of their family and political connections.

Prominent among those is Kulibaev, who has been dogged for years by accusations that his wealth, mainly from his work in the oil and gas industry, derives from his familial relations. The Financial Times on December 2 said it had uncovered a secret scheme that allegedly channeled tens of millions of dollars from contracts related to a massive gas pipeline to China to Kulibaev. His lawyers denied specifics of the report to the Financial Times and did not respond to queries from RFE | RL.

Several of these properties documented by RFE | RL have been the subject of legal challenges, including permitting disputes, an acrimonious divorce, and British freezing orders on three London residences that were later overturned by a court.

The investments in pricey foreign properties also come against the backdrop of the country’s overall increase in national wealth since the Soviet collapse. This increased prosperity has lifted livelihoods for many average Kazakhs –but it has also helped the politically connected elite transform into jet setting tycoons and fodder for newspaper gossip pages.

And with 80 year old Nazarbaev in his twilight, there’s a growing uncertainty about what, and who, will succeed him when he fully departs from Kazakh politics – and what might happen to the fortunes of those closest to him.

The system is so brittle. The political economy that Nazarbaev has built, it’s built on one man,” said Kate Mallinson, a London based consultant and researcher of Central Asian politics.

His relatives and closest allies have “hedged the bets on the future, not knowing what will happen – and so they’ve had to put assets outside the country,” Mallinson told RFE| RL.

Yevgeniy Zhovtis, the head of Kazakhstan’s oldest and largest human rights organization, said “it is hard to separate the government from the [Nazarbaev] family” and “hard to say how it will be in Kazakhstan” after Nazarbaev dies.

You cannot rely on protection from the rule of law when you live in such political systems,” Zhovtis said.


23 | 24 Avenue de la Tropicale, Cannes (AKA La Tropicale)

23/24 Avenue de la Tropicale, Cannes (AKA La Tropicale)
Purchase Price 22.9 million euros ($ 34 million in 2008)
Area 6,464 square meters

Four Level structure with Ionic columns and cornices, outdoor swimming pool, “four reception rooms, four small lounges, seven bedrooms with dressing room and bathroom, three kitchens, two wine cellars (…)six bedrooms with bathrooms, two lounges, and two kitchens.

Known as La Tropicale, this property, built in the late 19th century, is perched on a south facing hillside plot overlooking the Mediterranean Sea in one of Cannes’ most exclusive neighborhoods. Many of the houses in the neighborhood are hidden behind high walls and appear to have bodyguards and security cameras.

According to city records, the last time the property changed owners was in January 2008, when a company called Khanika purchased it for 22.9 million euros ($34 million). Khanika’s ownership structure or beneficial owners could not be determined, though a company with a similar name appears in court records in nearby Monaco and a Monaco based bank appeared to provide financing for the transaction.

A real estate brochure published in August 2020 described the property as fulfilling “all the criteria corresponding to the mythology of the Riviera: a historical past, illustrious owners and an inordinate splendor, almost extraordinary.

The property was one of several that Bolat Nazarbaev and his ex wife Maira battled over in a bitter US lawsuit that grew out of their divorce in the early 2010’s.

US court records indicate a settlement was reached sometime in 2014, though it is unclear what kind of agreement was reached concerning the Cannes property.

The court records also suggest the property was at one point owned by a trust registered in the name of the couple’s son, Khanbolat Nazarbaev, the nephew of former Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev. Khanbolat was 9 years old when his parents divorced.

As of December 2020, it was not clear if the property was still for sale.

When RFE | RL journalists photographed the house in September, the property appeared to be inhabited. Laundry was visible hanging to dry in the courtyard and several open windows could be seen on the house.

Nazarbaev’s New York lawyer from the lawsuit told RFE | RL that he no longer represented Nazarbaev and did not know how to contact him. Emails sent to Nazarbaev-linked investment companies in Almaty and to a charity he heads went unanswered as of publication.

A message sent to a WhatsApp number for Kurmangalieva was opened and read but was not responded to. Kesikbaev did not respond to a Facebook message seeking comment.


Avenue Canyelles 2(B), Lloret De Mar, Girona, Spain

Avenue Canyelles 2(B), Lloret De Mar, Girona, Spain
Purchase Price: Unknown
Area 20 hectares; guest house: 3,200 square meters (estimate)

13 bedroom suites; at least 19 bathrooms, at least one swimming pool, home theater, three saunas, large garage for luxury cars

Perched on a southern-facing hillside overlooking Spain’s Mediterranean coast, the sprawling property known locally as Can Juncadella was first developed by a Spanish industrialist around the end of World War II. It was later bought by a Japanese company that operated a school on the grounds. The property was sold in 2007 and since then it has become a regular source of legal controversy. Among locals, the estate is widely believed to belong to former Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev himself, a theory referenced in a November 2012 court ruling in the nearby town of Blanes. The mansion is “said to be the property of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan,” the ruling stated. Unconfirmed news reports said Nazarbaev himself attended a party at the property.

Nazarbaev’s press secretary did not answer repeated phone calls made over several days by RFE | RL. An email sent to the main office for the Nur Otan political party, which Nazarbaev formally heads, went unanswered as of publication.

The assertion of Kazakh ownership is backed up in corporate filings. In the mid 2000’s, a company registered in Barcelona called Flinder Data acquired the property for an unknown price. Flinder Data was owned by a Dutchn incorporated company called Faltain, which was in turn owned by another entity called Steppe Unity Cooperative, registered in Singapore.

Steppe Unity is owned in part by Timur Kulibaev, one of Kazakhstan’s wealthiest men and husband of the former Kazakh president’s daughter, Dinara.

Flinder Data’s registered agent is Olga Aristova, who served in the same role for several companies linked to Kulibaev. Aristova was preceded in her role at Flinder by a Kazakh named Assylbek Karibaev, who worked for a subsidiary of KazMunayGas, the Kazakh state oil and gas giant. Kulibaev, who also headed the country’s sovereign wealth fund and, together with Dinara, controls the country’s largest bank by assets, was a top executive with KazMunayGas.

A London law firm that has represented Kulibaev for many years, Farrer & Co, did not respond to emails seeking comment. Emails sent to the charitable foundations that Dinara Kulibaeva heads in Switzerland and Kazakhstan also went unanswered.

Much of the paper trail regarding the Spanish property’s ownership stems from court battles over environmental permits. A local environmental group called SOS Lloret tried to block the expansion of the buildings on the property in the early 2010’s, saying the property was located in a sensitive, protected landscape. The Catalonian regional legislature also joined the fray, passing an ultimately unsuccessful measure to halt the expansion.

More recently, the property’s owners sought to block access to a section of public road that ran close to the estate. The road was closed for several years, but environmental groups won a series of rulings in local courts, which ordered that the road remain public. In August, the region’s highest court dismissed an appeal by Flinder.

Meanwhile, while the fight over the road played out in courts, the property’s owners aggressively tried to block people from walking on the road, erecting menacing signs and loudspeakers that blared warnings, according to environmentalists, one activist, and local media. They told RFE | RL that some of the loudspeakers also broadcast sounds of gunfire, an apparent attempt to frighten locals.


Chateau de Bellerive, N° 25 and N°. 27 Chemin du Milieu, Collonge Bellerive, Canton of Geneva

Chateau de Bellerive, No. 25 and No. 27 Chemin du Milieu, Collonge-Bellerive, Canton of Geneva
Purchase Price: 106 million Swiss francs ($ 113.2 million in 2019 -2020)
Area: Total property: 28,700 square meters; main house, outbuildings: 890 square meters; 1.5 hectares of land with a small historical cottage

Mansion with stone facade flanked by two square towers; designated a Swiss cultural site of national importance

Built in the 17th century, the Chateau de Bellerive was for many years owned by Sadruddin Aga Khan, the former UN diplomat and jet-setting global celebrity known for his philanthropic work.

In 2019, the lakeside property was purchased by Dinara Kulibaeva, the daughter of former Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev,for 62 million Swiss francs ($ 63.8 million).

Kulibaeva expanded her lakeside holdings in January 2020, when she purchased an adjoining tract of land totalling about 1.5 hectares for 44 million Swiss francs ($ 49.3 million). As with the Chateau de Bellerive, the property, which includes a smaller house – a historical building reportedly once owned by a 19th century French military commander – was acquired from an extended member of the Sadruddin family.

The Swiss magazine Bilan last year ranked Kulibaeva as Switzerland’s 59th wealthiest person.

Villa Galli, Via Cantonale 3, Melide (AKA La Romantica)

Villa Galli, Via Cantonale 3, Melide (AKA La Romantica)

Purchase Price Unknown

Area 11,014 square meters (land)

Site currently under construction; five story hotel with restaurant and swimming pool reportedly planned

Until 2013, the property on Lake Lugano housed a famed 19th century building known as Villa Galli, or more affectionately as La Romantica, popular among generations of Lugano locals for a luxury restaurant, tea room, nightclub, dance hall, and its shoreside promenades.

Seven years earlier, the property was quietly obtained by a company called Stott Limited, incorporated in the British Virgin Islands, a jurisdiction famous for hosting offshore firms with opaque ownership. The company was closely linked to Behget Pacolli, a Kosovar businessman who over two decades has built a slew of massive buildings in Kazakhstan, including government palaces, concert halls, and the airport terminal in the capital, Nur Sultan, where he is also an honorary citizen.

Pacolli’s construction company, Mabatex, is headquartered in Lugano.

In 2008, Pacolli publicly revealed the ownership of the property where La Romantica was housed, saying that he owned three neighboring buildings, while Stott Limited, for whom he said he was the official representative, owned the La Romantica building itself.

In 2010, Pacolli denied that he had purchased La Romanticaon behalf of third parties” and threatened legal action against those who suggested this was the case. He also said that as far as he knows, “no member of the family of President Nazarbaev is or ever has been the owner” of La Romantica or Stott Limited, local media reported.

Despite public outcry from historic preservationists, Pacolli demolished the aging La Romantica in 2013. Since then, however, the developer has been fighting with local authorities over zoning permits. The land is now home to a tennis club and three nondescript office buildings.

An investigation by Swiss journalists published in 2010, meanwhile, found that Stott Limited was 50 percent owned by another company, Transasian Oil, headed by an Indian businessman and partner of Timur Kulibaev, whose name appears on several Kulibaev owned companies.

Transasian Oil loaned Stott more than 10 million Swiss francs ($ 12.4 million), according to the investigation by Swiss public broadcaster RTS, and received the Villa Galli property as collateral. The debt pledge on the property totaled 8.5 million Swiss francs ($ 10.5 million), making Transasian Oil the ultimate owner of Villa Galli, the RTS investigation said.

In a 2015 report on the threat facing Switzerland from money laundering and terrorism, Swiss Federal Police detailed an example of a scheme in which an unnamed Swiss property is purchased under circumstances that raise suspicions.

While the scheme does not name the people or companies involved, it closely mirrors details in the RTS investigation and publicly known information about the Villa Galli property and the individuals it has been linked to.

Like Kulibaev, the person identified as “Suspect A” in the Swiss Federal Police scheme is described as someone “accused of having benefited from his position as a manager in the national oil company of an oil producing country to enrich himself illegally.” This person’s money, in this scheme, “would have passed through different companies to finally be used by a front man to acquire property in Switzerland,” the document states.

According to the scheme, the company resembling Stott gains ownership of the property using a loan of 8.55 million Swiss francs from a company resembling Transasian Oil that is ultimately controlled by someone who has been “a confidant and front man” of “Suspect A” for “many years.”

The mortgage note for the historic building is then held by the company resembling Transasian Oil as collateral for the loan that the firm resembling Stott uses to buy the property, the scheme shows.

Asked whether the property cited in the scheme in the 2015 report was the La Romantica building, Swiss Federal Police spokeswoman Katrin Schmitter said: “We are subject to official secrecy and cannot comment on specific cases.”

Schmitter told RFE / RL, however, that the examples “described in our reports are generally based on real life cases.”

The federal police report also echoes the real-life case of Kulibaev, who was investigated by the Swiss Attorney-General’s Office for possible money laundering, bribery, and theft of state property. The probe was dropped in 2013 after authorities said they found no evidence of wrongdoing.

The report states that the allegations against “Suspect A” are determined to be “unfounded” and the proceedings dropped due to “lack of evidence as to the criminal origin of the assets.”

As in the case of La Romantica, the property cited in the scheme is “demolished” amid media reports that “Suspect A” and “an acquaintance and presumed accomplice” intend “to replace it with a luxury hotel.

The London law firm that has represented Kulibaev for many years, Farrer & Co., did not respond to emails seeking comment. RFE | RL also left a voice mail with Kulibaev’s lawyer.

In two separate e-mails sent to RFE | RL, Pacolli’s longtime representative in Lugano said Stott Ltd.was, in fact, “100 percent the company of Mr. Behget Pacolli” and “Stott is the 100 percent owner” of the La Romantica property.

The representative said the purchase of properties more than a decade ago, and the construction of a luxury hotel now planned for the former location of La Romantica, were “100 percent financed by Mr B Pacolli.

There [was] no working relationship with Mr.Kulibaev at all!” she said in her email.

She did not respond to a follow-up e-mail seeking further details of when Pacolli gained control of Stott, and the discrepancy with Pacolli’s earlier public statements about the ownership of the Villa Galli properties.

Swiss journalists also reported that Dinara Kulibaeva lived in a nearby villa between January 2007 and December 2009, which they said she rented from Pacolli for a reported 50,000 Swiss francs ($ 57,000) annually.

Pacolli’s representative confirmed that his villa in Lugano was rented at one point for an unspecified 12-month period to the Kulibaev family “while their son and nephew were visiting the American school in Lugano, and for that period of time the two students were living in the villa.”

After the end of the semesters, the tenancy has been terminated,” she told RFE | RL.


10225 Collins AveNUE, Unit 1801, Bal Harbour, Florida

10225 Collins AveNUE, Unit 1801, Bal Harbour, Florida
Purchase Price: $3.4 million
Area: 355 square meters

Luxury three-bedroom, five-bath beachfront apartment in a 24-story building featuring a spa, fitness center, and oceanfront swimming pool

This oceanfront apartment with a wraparound balcony and sweeping view of the Atlantic Ocean was purchased for $3.4 million in 2006 by Daniyar Kesikbaev, the stepson of Bolat Nazarbaev, the brother of then-Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev, according to Florida property records.

The property, however, became part of a rancorous lawsuit in the United States between Bolat and his ex-wife, Maira Kurmangalieva, who is Kesikbaev’s mother. That dispute also involved millions of dollars in Manhattan real estate as well as what Bolat’s lawyer described as “over $50 million” worth of jewelry purchased with his client’s money.

Amid the dispute, Kesikbaev ultimately transferred ownership of the Florida oceanfront apartment to Bolat in October 2014, Florida property records show. In March 2016, Bolat transferred the deed for a nominal $10 to a now-inactive Florida company, which two months later sold it to the current listed owner, another Florida firm that is also now inactive. The listed sale price to the current owner was $3.5 million. The asking price was originally listed at $4.35 million.

The Real Deal, a real estate industry site, reported shortly after the sale that the apartment had been on the market since the previous fall, around a year after Kesikbaev transferred ownership to Bolat.

The fight over the Florida apartment was not the only property dispute for Bolat Nazarbaev in the Miami area. In 2012, he sued a developer for alleged breach of contract over a balcony he claimed was insufficiently private.

His complaint stated that Bolat paid a $1.2 million deposit for an apartment that the developer indicated would feature “private” balconies. In reality, the balcony for the apartment he planned to purchase “was not private at all,” the complaint said.

“The privacy of the balcony is particularly important for the buyer in this case. Bolat Nazarbayev is the brother of the President of Kazakhstan. A private balcony is necessary for security reasons,” the Courthouse News Service cited the complaint as saying.

Bolat requested that the developer return his deposit, and court records indicate the two sides reached a confidential settlement.

2 Margo Way, Alpine, New Jersey

2 Margo Way, Alpine, New Jersey
Purchase Price: $20 million
Area: 3,160 square meters

Eight bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, eight-car garage, indoor basketball court, saltwater pool, outdoor spa, gourmet and catering kitchens, billiards lounge, wine cellar

When it was last sold, the Margo Way mansion, located in a cul-de-sac in one of the wealthiest postal codes in the United States, was reportedly among the most expensive homes sold in state history.

The purchaser was hidden behind an anonymous company, a common technique for buyers of U.S. properties looking to avoid scrutiny. Initial press speculation suggested a Russian oligarch was behind the purchase. But records filed in U.S. federal court suggest that the home purchase was funded by Bolat Nazarbaev, the brother of former Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev.

The house was purchased in late 2012, just a few months after Bolat became embroiled in a bitter legal fight with his ex-wife, Maira Kurmangalieva, and her son Daniyar Kesikbaev, over ownership of several Manhattan properties.

A proposed settlement submitted by Bolat’s lawyer in New York State Supreme Court in March 2014 stated that his client would relinquish any claim against Kurmangalieva relating to the property “located at 2 Margo Way, Alpine, New Jersey.” Court papers filed as part of the lawsuit identified 2 Margo Way as the residence where Kesikbaev and Kurmangalieva lived, and where court papers were served.

New Jersey property records show that the property has not been sold since the anonymous New Jersey-incorporated company bought it for $20 million in 2012.

Precisely where the money for the home purchase came from remains unclear.

But in a February 2014 e-mail to Kurmangalieva’s U.S. lawyer, Bolat Nazarbaev’s attorney wrote that “we believe” the New Jersey property “was purchased with Mr. Nazarbayev’s money” and estimated its value as more than $20 million.

In the same letter, attorney John Snyder also indicated that Bolat Nazarbaev had acquired more than $50 million in jewelry that Kurmangalieva was holding onto.

“[A]s part of the settlement, Mr. Nazarbayev has agreed to release claims against your clients relating to jewelry that Ms. Kurmangaliyeva has appropriated for herself, valued in excess of $50 million,” Snyder wrote.

Kurmangalieva has been listed as an executive or shareholder in several Kazakh companies, including one that mined precious metals.

In 2015, Kesikbaev married the daughter of Malaysia’s prime minister.

In a separate lawsuit filed later in U.S. federal court, a seller of expensive Hermes handbags in New York sued Kurmangalieva after she refused to pay a bill of more than $400,000 for the bags she had purchased. Kurmangalieva at one point threatened the seller, according to the lawsuit, telling her in a phone call: “You know who my son is! He is the son-in-law of the prime minister of Malaysia. Do you know what we can do to you and your family! I will hurt you!”

Ultimately, Kurmangalieva agreed to pay for the bags.

Kurmangalieva and Bolat Nazarbaev have a son together: Khanbolat Nazarbaev, who was born in 2002.

Nazarbaev’s New York lawyer from the lawsuit told RFE/RL that he no longer represented Nazarbaev and did not know how to contact him. E-mails sent to Nazarbaev-linked investment companies in Almaty and to a charity he heads went unanswered as of publication.

A message sent to a WhatsApp number for Kurmangalieva was opened and read but was not responded to. Kesikbaev did not respond to a Facebook message seeking comment.


Hotel Corso, Stará Louka 460|38, Karlovy Vary

Hotel Corso, Stará Louka 460|38, Karlovy Vary
Purchase Price: Unknown
Area: Building: 526 square meters; total land: 38 square meters

Six-story, 24-room boutique hotel with heated swimming pool and wellness center; overlooking the Tepla River in the center of Karlovy Vary; underwent major reconstruction in 2018.

Located in the heart of Karlovy Vary, the Hotel Corso is owned by a Czech-registered company called Kalma II, which is controlled by Zelina Katranova, whose daughter is married to the son of Timur and Dinara Kulibaev. Registered in 1999, the company Kalma II is headquartered at the same address as the hotel.

The company’s stated activities include “hospitality activities, the sale of fermented alcohol, potable alcohol and spirits, road motor transport, rental property, residential and nonresidential premises and cosmetic services.”

In Kazakhstan, Katranova is a general director of a company called Vostochnoye Rudoupravlenie, the largest producer and supplier of specialized minerals used by several oil- and gas-producing companies in Kazakhstan and the former Soviet Union. She has held positions in several other major companies in Kazakhstan, including a rail-freight shipping company, Doszhan Temir Zholy, which is a subsidiary of the state-owned railroad Kazakhstan Temir Zholy.

The hotel appeared to not be open when visited by RFE/RL reporters in September. Waiters working in cafes and restaurants nearby said the hotel had not been operational in recent memory.

E-mails sent by RFE/RL to three Kazakh companies on whose boards Katranova sits, including the rail-freight company, went unanswered as of publication. No one answered the main office phone at Hotel Corso on two separate days.

Hotel Mignon, Sadova 1049 | 55, Karlovy Vary

Hotel Mignon, Sadova 1049 |55, Karlovy Vary
Purchase Price 2.96 million Czech crowns ($ 74,000 in 2000)
Area Four story hotel on a total area of 1,561 square meters

Four-star hotel in an art nouveau-style building that also houses a medical and business center

The hotel was acquired by a Czech-registered company owned by Boranbaev in April 2000, four months after the purchase of Villa Ahlan.

Boranbaev’s daughter, Alima, was married to Aisultan Nazarbaev – the no -deceased son of Darigha Nazarbaeva, and grandson of Nursultan Nazarbaev – in 2013 in Almaty. Performers at the lavish wedding included US hip hop superstar Kanye West, who was criticized by rights groups accusing him of turning a blind eye to the authoritarian nature of Nazarbaev’s government.

The company itself, called Mignon II, has reregistered several times since its founding in 1999. Initially described as “rental of flats and nonresidential premises without providing other than basic services associated with the lease of flats and nonresidential premises,” the company’s declared activities were changed in 2014 to “operation of nongovernmental medical facilities in the scope of physiatry and balneology”  the medical study of therapeutic baths. The company also added as its declared activities “washing, ironing, repair and maintenance of clothing, home textiles, and personal goods.” Another listed executive with the company is Zelina Katranova, whose daughter is married to another of Nazarbaev grandsons, Altai Kulibaev.

Czech corporate records show Mingon II is linked to several other non Czech companies, including KazMunayGas-Service and Razvedka Dobycha KazMunayGas, both of which are subsidiaries of Kazakh state owned oil and gas giant KazMunayGas.

Nazarbaev’s son in law, Timur Kulibaev, is a shareholder and former top executive in KazMunayGas.

Myslivna, Sovova stezka 470/1, Karlovy Vary

Myslivna, Sovova stezka 470/1, Karlovy Vary
Purchase Price: 36 million Czech crowns ($1.4 million in 2017)
Area: property: 1,015 square meters; outbuilding: 338 square meters; total area of the land: 9,280 square meters

Five-story historical building located in a protected nature reserve on a hillside above historic Karlovy Vary

Built in the 19th century, the building known as Myslivna used to be a popular cafe known as the Jagerhaus, according to historical postcards from the time. In the 1990s, when it was known as the Myslivna Spa, employees of the Czech Interior Ministry came to vacation and take medicinal baths.

The entire property was sold by the Interior Ministry in 2017 to a company registered in the Czech Republic, located in the municipality of Karlovy Vary, called Margotrade Investments. The property was initially listed for auction at 41.4 million Czech crowns ($1.8 million), according to a 2016 real estate listing, but ended up being sold below the advertised price in November 2016, according to property records.

The company’s managing director, a Kazakh woman named Aizhan Bexeitova, holds executive positions in several Czech-registered companies that belong to Boranbaev, who is related to Nazarbaev by marriage: his daughter married Nazarbaev’s grandson, Aisultan, who died earlier this year.

Margotrade, meanwhile, was equally owned by two Dutch-registered firms, ADNTS Holding and Dostyk Holdings, whose parent companies link directly back to Timur Kulibaev, Nazarbaev’s son-in-law.

ADNTS Holdings’ only owner is ADNTS Investments, registered in Singapore as a private company. The director of this company is a Singaporean man who is also listed as a secretary in Steppe Capital, a Singaporean company whose only shareholder is Kulibaev. Steppe Capital is, in turn, linked to the Spanish hillside estate that has been identified as belonging to Kulibaev.

Dostyk Holdings’ only shareholder is Steppe Unity Cooperatief, which is also registered in Amsterdam and is a subsidiary of Kulibaev’s Steppe Capital.

Dostyk Holdings exited its ownership of Margotrade in November, Czech corporate records show. Margotrade’s new 50 percent owner is a Kazakh company, Verus Praedium International, which was incorporated in October and is owned by two Kulibaev companies.

In September 2020, when RFE/RL reporters visited the Karlovy Vary property, the building was boarded up, time-worn, and apparently abandoned, with peeling paint and overgrown shrubbery. Though a car was parked next to the property’s outbuilding, no one answered when RFE/RL reporters tried to enter the grounds, ringing a gate bell and calling out to see if anyone was present.

The London law firm that has represented Kulibaev for many years, Farrer & Co., did not respond to e-mails seeking comment. RFE/RL also left a voice mail with Kulibaev’s lawyer at the same firm.

Sportcentrum Hruskova, Hruskova 2194, Sokolov

Sportcentrum Hruskova, Hruskova 2194, Sokolov
Purchase Price: estimated 1.2 million Czech crowns ($62,700 in 2010-12)
Area: main building: 610 square meters; land, including tennis courts, totals 1,129 square meters

In addition to tennis courts, the sports center advertises bowling, squash, table tennis, badminton, billiards, and a sauna.

The sports center near Karlovy Vary sits on various plots of land that were bought from various owners between 2010 and 2012. The entire property is owned by a company whose only shareholder is Boranbaev. As with Myslivna, the executive director of that company, called JILO, is Aizhan Bexeitova.

Boranbaev also owns several sport and fitness centers, golf clubs, and hotels in Kazakhstan.

Villa Ahlan, Sadova 1075 | 53, Karlovy Vary

Villa Ahlan, Sadova 1075|53, Karlovy Vary
Purchase Price: 10.5 million Czech crowns ($300,000 in 1999)
Area: four-floor hotel building on a total area of 1,412 square meters

Rococo-style hotel built in the 1890s that is protected as a Czech cultural monument; offers spa procedures typical for Karlovy Vary

The Czech-registered company Mignon-II purchased the Villa Ahlan hotel in December 1999 — the first of two hotel purchases by the company, which is owned by Boranbaev.

In 2017, Czech media reported that the hotel belonged to Boranbaev and noted that then-Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev was a regular visitor to Karlovy Vary, even speculating that Nazarbaev was a part owner of the hotel.

Records do not indicate any ownership role for Nazarbaev.

Nazarbaev stayed at Villa Ahlan during a 2002 visit to Karlovy Vary, Russia’s state-run news agency RIA Novosti cited the municipality’s press service as saying at the time. The report noted that the hotel’s owners were “citizens of Kazakhstan,” but did not identify them.

Former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, who was known as a friend of Nazarbaev, stayed at the Villa Ahlan in 2005.

E-mails sent by RFE/RL to the Almaty soccer club that Boranbaev owns, and to his investment firm, Almaly, went unanswered as of publication. An e-mail sent to a Gmail account that Boranbaev is known to use also went unanswered.


215 to 237 Baker Street, London

215 to 237 Baker Street, London
Purchase Price: 136.4 million pounds ($214.5 million in 2007)
Area: Unconfirmed

The block is famous for its proximity to 221b Baker Street, home to Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes.

Property records show that more than a decade ago, the owner of the 215-237 block on Baker Street was a company called Farmont Baker Street Limited. Its ultimate beneficiary was hidden.

That record is part of a larger backstory of the property, which was the focus of an exposé by the anti-corruption watchdog Global Witness published in July 2015, about five months after Rakhat Aliev, then-Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev’s former son-in-law, was found dead in an Austrian jail.

The properties were acquired between 2008 and 2010 by four British-registered companies that either share a common parent — a shell company in the British Virgin Islands — or a direct corporate lineage, according to Global Witness and property and corporate registry records reviewed by RFE/RL.

Among the strongest evidence tying the property to Rakhat Aliev, and later to his son, is the extensive overlap among directors between these companies and others directly owned by Aliev prior to his death. That includes his son, Nurali Aliev.

But documents obtained by RFE/RL and first published by the London-based organization SourceMaterial show that as of 2015, the owner was a British Virgin Islands shell company called Farmont Investors Corporation.

Corporate documents showed Farmont Investors was ultimately controlled by Nurali Aliev’s mother, Darigha Nazarbaeva — the former wife of Rakhat Aliev and the elder daughter of Nazarbaev.

Not long after the publication of the Global Witness report, however, ownership of the Baker Street property was switched to another company, newly established in Abu Dhabi, called Landmark Network Real Estate.

According to SourceMaterial, this appeared to be an effort to avoid new regulations aimed at cutting down on corrupt money flowing into British real estate.

E-mails sent to the London law firm that has represented Nazarbaeva were not responded to prior to publication. An e-mail seeking comment from a public relations agency that Nazarbaeva and Aliev have used in the past went unanswered as of publication.

SourceMaterial said that Nazarbaeva’s lawyers declined to answer detailed questions about the Baker Street property’s ownership.

Documents reviewed by RFE/RL suggest that the new ownership structure under Landmark Network continues to have multiple ties to Darigha, including overlapping officers who worked for her deceased ex-husband.

The Global Witness report helped lead to an investigation by the National Crime Agency and so-called “unexplained wealth orders” targeting properties owned by Nurali and Darigha.

The orders and asset freeze, however, did not target the Baker Street property, but rather others in the London area that shared several past corporate owners and directors — and linked back to Nurali Aliev and Darigha.

In April, a British court rejected the crime agency’s arguments that the properties were acquired by Rakhat Aliev prior to his death as a way to launder money, and lifted the asset freeze.

41 – 42 Upper Grosvenor Street; 41 – 42 Reeves Mews, London

41 – 42 Upper Grosvenor Street; 41 – 42 Reeves Mews, London
Purchase Price: 46.1 million pounds ($92.2 million in 2007)
Area: More than 2,000 square meters in total

Four multistory properties; residential and office space; Georgian-style and Edwardian exteriors

Located in London’s posh Mayfair district, No. 41 Upper Grosvenor Street and No. 41 Reeves Mews were purchased together in 2007 for 25.8 million pounds ($50.9 million) by a shell company called Merix International Ventures, registered in the British Virgin Islands.

No. 41 Upper Grosvenor had been vacant for about seven years, which triggered both annoyance and curiosity in the neighborhood. The adjacent townhouse at No. 42 Upper Grosvenor, which had also stood empty, was bought in August 2007 for 11.9 million pounds ($24.4 million) by a company in Luxembourg owned by Kulibaev.

The fourth property, at No. 42 Reeves Mews, was bought later that year by a Luxembourg-registered company called Lynn Properties for 8.35 million pounds ($16.9 million).

Taken together, the four properties are effectively part of a single unit.

According to a 2015 lawsuit filed in British court by a real estate investor who claimed he had been jilted out of millions of dollars, Merix International Ventures was a wholly-owned subsidiary of a British Virgin Islands company called Kipros, whose ultimate beneficial owner was Kulibaev.

That’s backed up by corporate registry documents.

As it turned out, all four properties — the two Upper Grosvenor and the two Reeves Mews properties — belonged to Kulibaev through Merix, Lynn Properties, and the Luxembourg-incorporated Vitala Investment Holding.

Pine Hill, Heatherside Drive, Virginia Water, Surrey, England

Pine Hill, Heatherside Drive, Virginia Water, Surrey, England
Purchase Price: 25.4 million pounds ($39.9 million in 2014)
Area: 2,100-square-meter home (estimated)

Amenities indicated in planning records include cinema, swimming pool, wine cellar, gym, sauna, and sports field

Boranbaev is the father of a Kazakh woman who, at the time of the purchase in 2014, was the wife of former Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev’s grandson.

The property is located within Wentworth Estate, a 700-hectare location southwest of London that was once part of a grand country estate in the family of the royal duke of Wellington. The estate itself is a collection of gentle hills and leafy roads that is now best known as home to the Wentworth Club, a world-renowned golf club.

U.K. property records show Boranbaev bought his property there in November 2014 through a New Zealand-incorporated company he controlled.

There are virtually no publicly available photographs of Boranbaev’s home, though reporters found one image — an illustrative rendering — showing a rear view of the mansion that was posted on the website of a landscaping firm that worked on the property.

Over the years, the location has gained notoriety for the luxuriously priced homes, but also for the British and foreign notables who have lived there at one time or another. The list includes former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, the late Russian oligarch and Kremlin confidant Boris Berezovsky, Russian banker Pyotr Aven, and music legend Elton John.

The husband of Boranbaev’s daughter, Alima, was Aisultan Nazarbaev, one of Nazarbaev’s grandsons and the son of Darigha Nazarbaeva. He was found dead in London in August 2020. According to preliminary conclusions by British authorities, the cause of death was cardiac arrest. The Financial Times reported earlier this month that an autopsy listed the cause as toxicity from cocaine. Aisultan had said publicly that he battled drug addiction.

When Boranbaev bought the property in 2014, it was known as Pinehurst. The owner of an interior-design studio listed on the property’s planning records gave an interview in 2016 discussing her firm’s work on what she called the “Pinehurst Project.” But she did not reveal the identity or nationality of the client, citing the importance of “discretion.”

“On a project like this, the sky is the limit, and what I like about our clients is that they are incredibly mature about what they want,” the designer, Charu Gandhi, was quoted as saying. “These are not people who stumbled into having this lifestyle. They have stayed in the best hotels, on the most exquisite of yachts, and they know what works for them.”

Gandhi’s studio did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment on its work for Boranbaev.

E-mails sent by RFE/RL to the Almaty soccer club that Boranbaev owns, and to his investment firm, Almaly, went unanswered as of publication. An e-mail sent to a Gmail account that Boranbaev is known to use also went unanswered.

Sunninghill Park, Sunninghill Park, Buckhurst Road, Ascot, England

Sunninghill Park, Sunninghill Park, Buckhurst Road, Ascot, England
Purchase Price: 15 million pounds ($30.1 million in 2007)
Area: estate on more than 240 hectares

Renovation ongoing; plans for 14 bedrooms, sauna, indoor gym, game room, tennis court

The mansion at Sunninghill Park was long known as the family home for Prince Andrew, who was given the property in 1986 as a wedding gift by his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, when he married Sarah Ferguson. The royal couple divorced in 1996 and the house was sold in 2007 for 3 million pounds above the asking price to a company in Luxembourg called Unity Assets Corporation, whose registered owner is Kulibaev.

The property ended up sitting unoccupied for several years, and became partially dilapidated, much to the consternation of neighbors and historic preservationists.

In 2016, Kulibaev tore down the property and moved forward with plans for a newer residence.

As of October 2020, construction at the property was ongoing.

A London law firm that has represented Kulibaev for many years, Farrer & Co., did not respond to e-mails seeking comment. RFE/RL also left a voice mail with Kulibaev’s lawyer that went unanswered as of publication.

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