Corruption is a threat to national security
While the events in Kazakhstan have taken a dramatic turn due to the dictatorial regime in place ordering troops to fire on and kill protestors, it would not go amiss to remind ourselves that it is indeed President Kazakh Nazarbayev who was the first of the post-Soviet era to weave a methodical web of transnational financial flows with the sole aim of laundering his money and that of his henchmen in certain European capitals. So is it now surprising that a large part of the Kazakh population is rebelling against a mafioso system, when the proof of its leaders’ misdeeds has not even been covered up by criminals who seem to be sure of their facts, and of their impunity?
Doesn’t their fortune in fact lie peacefully in the UK, where the country is housing (according to an Open Democracy study) about 600 million euros in luxurious properties belonging to elites of Central Asia? The spoils of these prestigious London properties are being distributed to a clan made up of Dariga Nazarbayeva, daughter of Nazarbayev, his son-in-law and the billionaire Timur Kulibayev no less, as well as Kairat Boranbayev whose daughter is married to the grandson of the Kazakh dictator. This close-knit circle has even paid itself the moral luxury of directly acquiring one of Prince Andrew’s properties. But the second circle is not dawdling, with the copper magnate, Vladimir Kim, being the happy holder of a sublime apartment estimated at 30 million euros at One, Hyde Park, and the Nazarbayev clan’s banker, Aigul Nuriyeva, owning a modest 6 million euro property at Regents Park… In short, the amount articulated by this Chatham House report is obviously only an appetizer, because, let’s not forget, in fact, that the leading opponent to the Kazakh regime, Mukhtar Ablyazov, has also heavily invested in London, owning five properties there in total, two of which are valued at more than 20 million euros apiece. London makes sure to keep intact its very strong pull with high-level criminals, even if it is true that Mukhtar Ablyazov has lost his right of asylum there and he currently lives in France… So, faced with such an overwhelming set of circumstances, how are we to react if not by seizing the assets of this trifling Kazakh oligarchy that – according to a KPMG report dating from 2019 – between 162 of them owns an astonishing 50% of the country’s wealth? These illicit transfers and offshore set-ups that aren’t even cleverly disguised make up the daily bread of these Kazakh elites, and of others spread throughout the world who compete with each other, pilfering most of their population’s money along the way.
Despite it being an obviously flawed comparison, there is nevertheless something extraordinarily rotten about our current post-covid world, or at least our world now learning to live with the pandemic, because the richest of the rich have never been better-off than during this terribly damaging period. Likewise, in the US, “Americans for Tax Fairness” and the “Institute for Policy Studies” have calculated that the country’s billionaires’ wealth grew by no less than 70% between March 2020 and November 2021! These five trillion dollars are in the hands of the crème-de-la-crème, only 745 individuals (out of a population of 330 million), and 89% of US stock is monopolised by only 10% of the citizens of this nation that – as a result – isn’t really one anymore… This is why an oligarchy of a new kind is forming, in a country that is meant to be an exemplar of democracy, and where a tiny number of individuals find themselves in a temporary limbo while tens of millions of others suffer increasing economic insecurity due to the rise in inflation.
No longer is there any benchmark, any morality, any dignity. The proof? The Vice President of the US Federal Reserve in person, Richard Clarida, was just nicked for exploiting privileged information to make money. On 27th February 2020, the day before Fed President Powell’s speech where he declared his central bank’s determination to actively support the economy with regard to the nascent pandemic, Clarida withdrew millions from a bond fund to invest in a stock market fund that turned out to be one of the biggest winners from the Fed measures. Moreover, the Wall Street Journal was able to reveal in September 2021 that the President of the Dallas Fed, Robert Kaplan, and the President of the Boston Fed, Eric Rosengren, were purchasing shares in Apple, Alphabet, Google and Amazon, and also precious metals, to the tune of several million dollars while their respective central banks moved to support the financial markets.
Several serious and unbiased studies (led by “Freedom House” and “Freedom in the World”) attest to a major erosion of democracy on a global scale. In 1938, Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave us a warning: “History proves that dictators never prosper over successful governments”.