Kazakh authorities criticise ex-president Nazarbayev’s brother over involvement in cryptomining

Kazakh authorities criticise ex-president Nazarbayev’s brother over involvement in cryptomining
By bne IntelliNews March 16, 2022

Bolat Nazarbayev, the former Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev’s brother, has been accused of having a hand in business activities that “threaten the country’s economic security” over his involvement in lucrative cryptocurrency mining operations northern Kazakhstan.

Cryptocurrency mining put a strain on the country’s energy grid last year leading to blackouts around the country.

The public shaming of Bolat Nazarbayev came two days after the arrest of Kairat Satybaldy, a nephew of Bolat and Nursultan Nazarbayev, as President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev continues to weaken the Nazarbayev family’s political and economic influence over the country following deadly January unrest.

The Agency for Financial Monitoring reported on March 15 that the shutdown of Nazarbayev-related mining activities was “voluntary” and the report did not directly accuse him of illegally mining bitcoins, but the statement itself was headlined as a report on “illegal mining activity.”

The government’s inspections on illegal crypto mining operations also revealed other notable political and business figures involved in crypto mining in Kazakhstan, including Alexander Klebanov, the chairman of Central Asian Electric Power Corp., which provides electricity to more than 2mn people, and Kairat Itegmenov, Kazakhstan's 17th richest man, according to Forbes.

The criticism of Bolat Nazarbayev coincided with a crackdown on illegal cryptocurrency mines has led 106 miners to shut down their operations, CoinDesk reported on March 15, citing a government statement.

That included 51 miners, who were forced to discontinue operations as they were suspected of tax and customs evasion along with placing equipment in special economic zones without permission. The remaining 55 miners ceased to operate “voluntarily”, according to the statement.