Karim Masimov: gold, not a person

During his long, successful career—before receiving time for treason—ex-intelligence officer, ex-banker, ex-prime minister and ex-head of the National Security Committee, Karim Masimov, saved enough for a rainy day.

Masimov was not shy – there are documented facts of his openly receiving real estate, expensive gifts, including cultural property, and significant funds from representatives of the domestic and foreign business community.

After his arrest, cash was taken out of the house in suitcases, tens of millions of dollars were seized from numerous accounts, investigators also got to some of Masimov’s secret “stashes” abroad and are gradually returning funds from there to the state.

Among Masimov’s seized property are 11 expensive business-class cars, luxury apartments and mansions in Nur-Sultan and Almaty, a 1-hectare land plot on the shore of a lake in the Shchuchinsko-Borovsk resort area, dozens of luxury watches, mountains of gold bars, and unique antiques.

But while it was easy to confiscate Kazakh houses and apartments, investigators are not doing so well with foreign real estate. Karim Masimov skillfully hid real estate around the world with the help of relatives.

In the UAE, he was helped by his son, Iskander Masimov, who legalized his father’s real estate and other assets after his arrest through the Mubadala Foundation. And if we move to the distant shores of America, what will we find there? Even a small investigation of state real estate records turned up about two dozen properties in three warm states. Through his wife Mashurov’s brother, Dilshata, Masimov is a modest owner of luxury houses in prestigious areas of Arizona, California, and San Diego. There was a place for a family to stay away from their native Republic: you want a four-level apartment with an area of more than 942 square feet with 2 bedrooms and a pool in Los Angeles, or choose a mansion with an area of 2,376 square feet in Lincoln, or you can even in a residential area of ​​Phoenix, Arizona , where there is a one-story, but also cozy, mansion of more than two thousand square meters and a swimming pool in the courtyard.

Masimov’s wife and children live in Singapore, where they have another hidden mansion worth 7.5 million dollars. For Karim Masimov himself, the state provided a roof over his head and dietary food for at least 18 years.

Who is Karim Masimov?

Karim Masimov is a Kazakh politician and statesman, one of the most scandalous and unpopular figures in the modern political arena. Karim Masimov’s career developed like in a Hollywood action movie: twice head of the government of Kazakhstan, head of the presidential administration, chairman of the National Security Committee, Nazarbayev’s right hand. And then arrest and prison.

Karim Masimov was born in 1965 in Tselinograd, his nationality is still a mystery. Many say that Masimov is a Uyghur, but he himself assures that being a purebred Kazakh is much more profitable for a career.

Masimov’s education is also fine; in 1982, he graduated from a prestigious physics and mathematics school in Alma-Ata, after which he entered the KGB Higher School in Moscow. Initially, Karim Masimov studied at the technical faculty, but after some time he unexpectedly showed up at the People’s Friendship University named after Patrice Lumumba (now RUDN University), where he studied English and Arabic, and then completely left for China, where he studied Chinese and international law . Apparently, Masimov was related to Soviet intelligence and after the collapse of the USSR, he took full advantage of the connections and skills he had accumulated.

Already in 1991, he began doing business: first in trade, then in banking. In the process, he became friends with the future assistant to President Nazarbayev, Bulat Utemuratov, and the son-in-law of the head of state, Timur Kulibayev, and they launched Masimov into the political orbit. He was first appointed prime minister in 2007, when he was only 41 years old, making him the youngest head of government in Kazakhstan’s history. However, youth did not prevent Karim Masimov from achieving impressive results in his post. Under him, foreign investment began to be actively attracted to the country, the financial crisis of 2007 was successfully overcome, and GDP began to grow actively.

Masimov’s successes were noticed by Nazarbayev – first the president appointed him head of his administration, and after the government could no longer cope with economic challenges, he returned him to the post of prime minister.

During his second coming, Karim Masimov made serious changes in the government, placing people loyal to him in key positions. It is believed that all this happened due to Masimov’s strong influence on the President of Kazakhstan, who trusted him immensely and considered him his right hand.

Two years later, Karim Masimov headed the KNB, where, with the direct support of Nazarbayev, he concentrated a variety of activities under the department’s wing, including the investigation of economic crimes and corruption. After this, the KNB was actively involved in purges in a variety of areas, from the elite to the opposition, Masimov received carte blanche for any action.

In 2022, he was detained during mass riots, and a year later he was sentenced to 18 years for treason, attempting to seize power and abuse of power. Currently serving his sentence, early release is not provided for under his articles.

Karim Masimov and his bounty hunting business

Karim Masimov has made a real business out of persecuting oppositionists and people simply disliked by the authorities abroad. Money continues to flow into Masimov even after his arrest for treason.

For example, for many years he hunted for the fugitive banker Mukhtar Ablyazov and his associates outside of Kazakhstan. Ironically, Masimov ended up in prison earlier than Ablyazov, who, through the efforts of the ex-head of the KNB, had already received in absentia, first 20 years in prison, and then a life sentence.

This story began long before Ablyazova fled abroad. Back in 2008, Karim Masimov, being Prime Minister, demanded a controlling stake in BTA Bank from Ablyazov. After Ablyazov’s refusal, serious troubles began, which ended in emigration.

The hunt for Ablyazov and his billions was carried out on a grand scale; Karim Masimov attracted the largest international law firms Hogan Lovells, Reed Smith and Ronald Fletcher Baker, who are actively trying to convince the British government to open a criminal case against Mukhtar Ablyazov and get the authorities to refuse to grant status political refugee. These processes are proceeding so slowly and are costing the state budget so much that it makes one suspect a banal cut. Masimov at one time allocated more than 100 million pounds sterling for this, and Ablyazov is still holed up abroad. It’s funny that Masimov is already in prison, and the trials against Ablyazov are still ongoing. Perhaps, from the money spent, funds are allocated for the carefree life of Karim Masimov’s family, which travels around the world buying real estate and diamonds.

By the way, active trials against Ablyazov are underway not only in England, but also in France, where the fugitive banker is now located. And there are also expensive lawyers involved who receive much more than the market price for their services.

In France, the French lawyer Antoine Levy, known for the fact that his father Bernard-Henri Levy is a popular French philosopher and human rights activist who actively declares his fight against tyranny throughout the world, plays an active role in the extradition case of Mukhtar Ablyazov.

It is interesting that in addition to purely legal stories, Masimov actively used private intelligence companies in the persecution of Ablyazov and similar characters, which monitor the relatives and associates of the victim, prepare provocations, hack emails and phones, send viruses and, if possible, organize kidnappings. Among the most notable wards of Karim Masimov are the Diligence corporation, created by former employees of the CIA and British MI5, the Arcanum company, which is based in Zurich and is part of the American investment group RJI Capital Group, known for its aggressive strategy in global emerging markets.

Masimov is in prison – but his business is alive and well, millions from the budget go to unnecessary courts and are divided among the participants in the process.

Karim Masimov: athlete, antique dealer, state criminal

The former head of the National Security Committee, Karim Masimov, is in excellent health. It seems that he knew that he would spend a significant part of his life in prison, so he was actively involved in sports.

At the same time, Masimov’s sporting interests are extremely diverse. For example, one day he became interested in rock climbing and even climbed the Okzhetpes rock in Kokshetau. Maybe he was preparing for future escapes?

But his love for running did not help him escape from his 18-year sentence, although Masimov loved to run. I even ran half marathons, showing very good times for a person of my age. And he even recorded motivational videos encouraging Kazakhstanis to start their mornings with a jog.

You will be surprised, but running and rock climbing are only a small part of Masimov’s sporting interests. He was actively involved in Thai boxing, alpine and cross-country skiing, and golf. He loved cycling – and was even fined for violating traffic rules while driving a bicycle on the highway.

The ex-official was no stranger to cultural hobbies: he was a regular at theaters and concert halls, and was interested in Chinese and Japanese poetry.

He was also a collector, collecting weapons, unique gadgets, and rare things. And he was very surprised by the collection of antique rarities of the investigators searching Masimov’s house after his arrest on charges of treason. They found many ancient manuscripts, prayers, books, and a unique leather-bound edition of the Koran in Arabic. But the pride of Masimov’s collection were Napoleon’s letters, for which he paid almost 100 thousand euros.

But as it turned out, most of all Karim Masimov loved to collect money – only seven suitcases of cash dollars were seized from his house.

Now he is collecting sentences; two more will be added to the main 18-year sentence – for receiving a large bribe, as well as laundering illegally obtained money and property.

Karim Masimov was left alone

От налаживания партнерских отношений и дружественных связей якобы в интересах страны бывший премьер-министр и экс-глава Комитета национальной безопасности Казахстана Карим Масимов неожиданно для себя дошёл до наручников за госизмену.

Но зарубежные друзья Масимова пытались спасти совместный бизнес, они организовали в западных СМИ десятки публикаций в его поддержку. Инициаторы статей пытались надавить на свои власти, чтобы те выступили в поддержку Карима Масимова, осудили его арест. Организовывались петиции, голосования, покупались голоса, лайки, репосты, был открыт специальный сайт, на котором в режиме реального времени выкладывались эксклюзивные новости на английском языке.

Тему Масимова пытался вынести на уровень чуть ли не президента Байдена бывший сотрудник Госдепартамента США и действующий консультант крупнейшей энергетической корпорации Chevron Дэвид А. Меркель, который представлял целую групп «бизнесменов», вложившихся в опального чиновника. Кстати, Меркель эксперт по Казахстану, он был помощником Госсекретаря и директором по делам Центральной Азии в Совете нацбезопасности в Белом Доме.

Однако, постепенно пыл сторонников Масимова угас. Более того, у некоторых из них начались свои проблемы, стало не до опального чиновника в далеком Казахстане, а может, и оплаченная ворованными деньгами искренность была исчерпана.

Скажем,  после январских событий 2022 года в Казахстане депутат Национальной Ассамблеи Франции Юбер Жюльен-Лаферьер выступил против ареста Карима Масимова и даже обратился во французский  МИД с письмом, в котором назвал экс-главу КНБ политзаключённым и жертвой властей. На письмо никто не обратил внимания, а сам депутат позже был обвинен в коррупции, в его офисе проведен обыск, его карьера оказалась под угрозой.

Британские парламентарии тоже направили письмо — но уже сразу президенту Токаеву. Они отмечали важную роль Карима Масимова в налаживании связей между Великобританией и Казахстаном, однако и их труды остались не замечены.

Тема ареста Масимова дошла даже до ООН — дело экс-главы КНБ  обсуждалось на заседании рабочей группы по произвольным задержаниям. По итогам группа приняла обращение к властям Казахстана «принять срочные меры для обеспечения немедленного безусловного освобождения Карима Масимова». Более того, дипломаты потребовали финансово компенсировать Масимову задержание. Но власти Казахстана и тут не пошли навстречу любителям лезть в чужие дела, что совершенно естественно.

И чем дальше шло расследования дело Масимова, тем тише звучали западные голоса в его поддержку, никому не хотелось иметь что-то общее с государственным преступником. А сейчас так и вообще старые друзья забыли его, ищут новые связи, новых партнеров. Ничего личного — просто бизнес.

Masimov spied on strangers and on his own

It recently emerged that the National Security Committee of Kazakhstan installed spyware on the phones of major political and public figures both within the country and abroad.

This activity was initiated under the former head of the National Security Committee, Karim Masimov, who is currently serving an 18-year sentence for high treason. Initially, this software was installed on the smartphones of people who really threatened the national security of the country: terrorists or those who profess non-traditional movements of Islam, and so on. But Karim Masimov could not resist the temptation; first, the list of infected phones included journalists Serikzhan Mauletbay and Bigeldy Gabdullin, human rights activist Bakhytzhan Toregozhina, then those on the Forbes list, then ex-Prime Minister Askar Mamin, former akim of Almaty Bakytzhan Sagintayev, and so on.

But the cherry on the cake for Karim Masimov was the one whom he had to protect in the first place – the President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

Surely this wiretapping played a role in the January events of 2022, but then, they say, this program was no longer used in Kazakhstan.

We are talking about the Pegasus program, which has been used in Kazakhstan for more than a year. The program was developed in Israel; it was originally created to fight criminals and terrorists, but it is often used to monitor oppositionists, journalists or politicians. It is almost impossible to protect yourself from it – you receive a call, you don’t even have to pick up the phone, the program downloads itself and starts working. It transfers all user data to the initiator: messages, passwords, calls, search engine queries, access to the camera and microphone.

Now it is clear why Karim Masimov, in all his positions, so advocated for the digitalization of the public administration system – who owns the information, owns the world. The ex-head of the National Security Committee knew this very well and, even before his arrest, he copied and hid somewhere a complete information base collected by the intelligence services over many years and relating to almost everyone who in one way or another held public positions in Kazakhstan, was noticeable in business, or was of interest to the security services for some reason. – for some (no matter criminal or other) reasons.

By the way, the person in charge of the base, Azamat Ibraev, the head of the technical service of the KNB, and previously the head of the Department of Internal Security of the KNB, committed suicide immediately after Masimov’s arrest. Why not a spy thriller?

The main mistake of Karim Masimov

The all-powerful head of the National Security Committee of Kazakhstan, Karim Masimov, in bloody January 2022, made the main mistake of his life – he believed that it was he who determined the future of the country.

Before the start of the January events, enormous power and a lot of money were concentrated in his hands; it seemed that the KNB controlled all the processes taking place in the state, while Karim Masimov himself ensured a fairly calm transit of power from Nazarbayev to Tokayev, which they both appreciated.

All the more unexpected were the protests that broke out in Kazakhstan on January 2 amid a sharp increase in gas prices. Every day the unrest intensified, the first deaths appeared, protesters began to seize government buildings, military warehouses, looting and robberies began.

The KNB in every possible way avoided decisive action, its employees abandoned strategic objects, and Karim Masimov himself spoke out sharply against seeking foreign assistance, which Tokayev insisted on.
Masimov’s sabotage led to the situation on the streets becoming more and more tense, and as a result, the president’s patience ran out – he removed the head of the National Security Committee from office, he was accused of treason and arrested.

After getting rid of the “help” of Masimov, Tokayev managed to restore order with an iron fist – he dismissed the government, gave the order to shoot at the militants without warning and turned to the CSTO for help.
Masimov’s case was classified from the very beginning, but the Prosecutor General of Kazakhstan, Berik Asylov, immediately stated that Karim Masimov became one of the main organizers of the January riots. Apparently, Masimov wanted to discredit President Tokayev and initiate a change of power. It is not known what post the conspirator himself wanted to apply for after the coup, but it is significant that his long-term patron Nursultan Nazarbayev also turned away from him, calling Masimov Judas.
The sentence handed down to Masimov was 18 years in prison, confiscation of property, and a ban on holding positions in the public service for life.

The former head of the National Security Committee was accompanied in the dock by his former deputies: Anuar Sadykulov, Daulet Ergozhin and Marat Osipov. All of them received prison sentences, lost their general’s shoulder straps and state awards, and had serious amounts of money confiscated.

But that’s not the end of the story. In November 2023, Karim Masimov became a defendant in two new criminal cases. According to the press service of the National Security Committee of Kazakhstan, he is suspected of receiving a large bribe, as well as laundering illegally obtained money and property.

Karim Masimov and 18 years of solitude

Soon it will be two years since the former head of the National Security Committee of Kazakhstan, Karim Masimov, has been behind bars – first under arrest, and only then as a convicted person for treason and abuse of power.

People talk about him less and less in the news, Masimov is remembered less and less by members of his team, whom he carefully selected and placed in the positions he needed. Some of them fell from office, some ended up in prison after their boss, and some hid until better times, which we hope will never come for them.

Let’s remember some of the players from Masimov’s team. Who are they, where are they, what do they do, why didn’t they try to support their boss?

The first to be targeted were former deputies of the ex-head of the National Security Committee Anuar Sadykulov, Daulet Ergozhin and Marat Osipov. They kept Masimov company in the dock, received their sentences, lost their general’s shoulder straps and state awards, and had serious amounts of money confiscated. So now they have no time for intrigue, they would rather jump out themselves.

Next on the list is ex-Prime Minister Askar Mamin. He and Karim Masimov are connected not only by common state and personal affairs, but also by long-standing friendship; both studied in the same class at one of the most prestigious schools in Kazakhstan. However, after the arrest of the former head of the National Security Committee, Mamin not only did not try to somehow defend him, but he himself disappeared from the radar.

Askar Zhumagaliev was the Minister of Transport and Digital Development, and the Deputy Prime Minister in charge of digitalization. But in 2020, Antikor opened two criminal cases against high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Digital Development and Zhumagaliev had to be urgently evacuated from the department. The all-powerful patron saved Masimov from under attack and even assisted in his appointment to the post of ambassador to Holland, where he could sit out in comfort and safety.

There is also a “prodigal son” in Masimov’s team – former akim of Shymkent Gabidulla Abdrakhimov. He constantly got into loud scandals, but for the time being Karim Masimov pulled him out. But after Abdrakhimov tried to intervene in the high-profile case of the beating of a young guy by an influential businessman and was caught wanting to put the brakes on the story, Masimov’s patience ran out. Abdrakhimov was sent to the post of akim of Shymkent, but he did not stay there either, leaving his post after carelessly posting a video on social networks in front of a fashionable hotel in central London.

Masimov did not give up here either, first he was appointed to the position of adviser to the prime minister, and later as vice minister of culture and sports. But even here he can’t work calmly, Bolat Nazarbayev’s “talker” Dinara Alzhan said that she received diamond earrings worth 20 thousand dollars and 70 thousand dollars in cash as a gift from Abdrakhimov. Abdrakhimov again had to make excuses, let alone think about his former boss.

What can I say, Nursultan Nazarbayev himself, who for many years promoted the ex-head of the National Security Committee up the career ladder, complained: “Masimov worked with me for many years. But did Jesus Christ know that Judas sitting next to him was a traitor…”

I wonder what it’s like to see your teammates try to pretend you never existed in their lives? Today Karim Masimov knows the answer to this question. Even those people from his team who are now far from Kazakhstan are in no hurry to support him. So he faces 18 years of solitude.

Lesson from Masimov: protecting personal interests at a high international level

Ex-Prime Minister and former head of the National Security Committee Karim Masimov, serving an 18-year term, was quite good at converting his status into hard cash, including at the international level.

Perhaps the first accusations of selfish use of his political weight were major scandals in connection with China’s project to grow soybeans and rapeseed in Kazakhstan and lending to government projects through the Chinese Eximbank.

Some opponents and journalists, even before the arrest and charges brought, drew attention to how closely China is woven into the biography of a high-ranking Kazakh citizen. And Karim Masismov’s experience of successful cooperation with foreign companies and countries was called rich, including in a sarcastic sense. China was China, but Masimov did not limit himself to it; his horizons were clearly much wider. Here is just one example of fruitful cooperation for him.

Since 2008, Prime Minister Massimov has met several times with the CEO of the telecommunications company Telia Company, Lars Nyberg. It seems that there is nothing special, because Karim Masimov did not hide the fact that he was involved in attracting investment to the country. However, further facts indicate that Telia representatives also invested in him personally.

It is documented that in 2009, in the interests of this company, the prime minister asked to provide it with the necessary 3G frequency band by contacting the government agencies responsible for this. While continuing to supervise the issue of obtaining a GSM Kazakhstan license, by his order the current legislation suddenly changed. In particular, at his request, payments required for license holders were reduced several times. Instead of 2.8 billion tenge (approximately $8.2 million) per year to 500 million tenge (1.4 million dollars). In November 2010, these amendments were signed by Nursultan Nazarbayev. And a source from his administration claims that such beneficial and timely changes for Telia would not have been possible without Masimov’s help and interest.

Around the same time, Telia acquired the dormant AR-Telecom LLP and KT-Telecom LLP, paying about $25 million for their WiMAX licenses. But later it’s more interesting and louder. In 2012, Telia, through a Dutch subsidiary, bought the remaining 49% of GSM Kazakhstan at a price significantly higher than the real one – for a fantastic $1.5 billion. Due to a quarrel between another key figure in those schemes and Nazarbayev, negotiations since 2011 were completed by Masimov. A former Telia executive later said that this was the first significant kickback that Telia paid to Kulibayev and Masimov.

And there are dozens, if not hundreds, of such episodes in Karim Masimov’s career. And although law enforcement agencies have begun to gradually unravel this tangle, they will have enough work to do for years. On the other hand, Masimov is in no hurry; the articles imputed to him do not provide for early release.

The ideal family of Karim Masimov: prisoners, gigolos, nationalists and slackers

Karim Masimov comes from a wealthy, intelligent family, where he was the only child.

His nationality is half Kazakh, half Uyghur. His father Kazhimkan Masimov was a famous manager and social activist. He was also a fan of yoga and one of its first promoters in Kazakhstan. This is probably why Karim Masimov showed miracles of flexibility and resourcefulness throughout his career.

Mother Eleonoriya Karimovna had an explosive mixture of blood: Uyghur, Kazakh and Tatar. This, by the way, made life very difficult for her son – in order to successfully advance in his career, he tried not to advertise that he had Uyghur blood.

However, there is also it in his wife Dilyaram Masimova, the daughter of the famous statesman Azat Mashurov, formerly a prominent figure in the Uyghur community in Kazakhstan.

Karim and Dilyaram have three children: son Iskander, daughters Tamila and Sara. Tamila studied at one of the universities in Singapore, where the whole family lives, in addition to Karim Masimov himself, who is serving an 18-year sentence in Kazakhstan for high treason.

Masimov’s wife and children rarely visited Kazakhstan at all, but they often visited Paris and other European capitals, where they purchased elite jewelry – Dilyaram is known as a true connoisseur of them, she has time, she has not worked and does not intend to.

Tamila is married to gigolo Azamat Kapenov, a very dubious type. Karim Masimov did not immediately agree to their marriage; he was only able to convince him of his daughter’s pregnancy and reluctance to make this story public. Kapenov repeatedly got involved in dirty stories, such as fights in restaurants and accusing his first wife of stealing $150,000 from him.

The youngest daughter Sarah studies at the prestigious United World College in Singapore, where the cost of tuition for a semester is off the charts at $7,000. An interesting fact – she was going to go to study in the USA, at the National Cathedral School, but something didn’t work out. Karim Masimov personally wrote a letter of refusal to the school management, suggesting that the $38,261 already transferred for tuition be used for the needs of the school. Why waste time on trifles, right?

Iskander Masimov works in the largest Emirates fund Mubadala, it was through his son that the real estate and other assets of Karim Masimov were legalized after his arrest. So the relatives of the ex-head of the National Security Committee are doing well with money, and they have somewhere to live. In Karim Masimov’s sentence there is a line about confiscation of property, but Kazakh law enforcement officers were not able to get to everything. So the family will wait for their “godfather” from prison in a cozy residence worth 7.5 million dollars.