Vyacheslav Kim, a prominent Kazakhstani businessman deeply rooted in the Nazarbayev-era oligarchic system, became a citizen of Malta in 2018. Interestingly, this act contradicts Kazakhstan’s laws, as the country explicitly forbids dual citizenship. Despite this, Vyacheslav Kim wasn’t punished by Kazakhstan, and he was able to retain his Kazakhstan passport. This allowed him to move funds freely back and forth from Kazakhstan, presumably providing highly lucrative opportunities for the banker to participate in the ‘Russian express’ of money laundering.
Since 2002, Vyacheslav Kim has consistently held a prominent position on the annual Forbes Kazakhstan list of the wealthiest individuals. He ascended from the 24th position in 2012 to the 2nd position in 2021, with an estimated wealth of $4,200 million. In the same year, he secured the 5th spot among the most influential businessmen in Kazakhstan and made his entry into the global list of billionaires, ranking 925th.
None of this is really possible without deep intervention in the very fabric of Kazakhstan’s fallen dictatorship. Vyacheslav Kim and his main project, Kaspi Bank, are no exceptions to the rule.
Vyacheslav Kim and Tokaev’s Course on De-oligarchization
President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev resembles the early years of his Russian colleague, Vladimir Putin. His approach involves dismantling the very system that gave him birth and brought him to power. Instead of implementing broader political reforms and measures, he acts conservatively and selectively, targeting the most obvious offenders first. Vyacheslav Kim isn’t an obvious target; the family of ex-president Nazarbayev is.
Since the events of the January 2022 putsch-turned-uprising-turned-riots, many members of the Nazarbayev clan have been imprisoned. While nobody has been convicted for truly long terms, every affected person has lost significant shares of their assets. Kairat Satybaldy is one such person, and Vyacheslav Kim is closely associated with him.
Now, Tokayev has turned to second-tier individuals. The well-known ‘purses’ of the former regime — Bulat Utemuratov, Vyacheslav Kim, and Timur Kulibayev — are next in line. After all, this move makes Tokayev popular, allows him to return vast resources to the Kazakh economy, and gives shares to his own associates.
Vyacheslav Kim barred from leaving Kazakhstan
As a precautionary measure, the government has barred Vyacheslav Kim from leaving the country, a clear indication of impending events. This restriction is, of course, linked to the ongoing investigation.
Vyacheslav Kim’s fate is predetermined. His bank is too big and too successful to fail, but the ownership structure will definitely change, not in favour of Vyacheslav Kim. The Maltese passport of Vyacheslav Kim is a brilliant excuse for president to initiate the investigation that will eventually lead to the required results.