The fortunes of the billionaires behind some of Kazakhstan’s best-known corporations have plummeted in recent days as the country was rocked by sprawling national protests against the ruling regime.
Together, four Kazakh billionaires – including a daughter and son-in-law of the former president – are $ 3 billion poorer than on January 4. Protests were sparked by a sharp rise in gasoline prices last week, which quickly turned into anger over corruption in the political system of former long-time President Nursultan Nazarbayev.
Shares in two major banks – Kaspi and JSC Halyk Bank – collapsed as protesters burned public buildings and overturned statues. The Nazarbayev family left Kazakhstan in five private jets for Moscow on January 5, according to a report by Benjamin Godwin, Central Asia expert and head of analysis at UK’s PRISM Political Risk Management. One contact described in the report as “a minor figure in the Nazarbayev family” said the Nazarbayevs, known as Putin loyalists, traveled to Moscow to “be with the family.”
Billionaire Vyacheslav Kim, the largest shareholder and chairman of London-listed Kaspi Bank, Kazakhstan’s largest payments and fintech company, is $ 1.4 billion poorer as Kaspi’s share price rose from $ 118 on Jan. Value from $ 5.7 billion to $ 4.2 billion.
Mikhail Lomtadze, a native Georgian living in Kazakhstan and CEO of Kaspi, is nearly $ 1.4 billion poorer; his estimated net worth plummeted from $ 5.2 billion on January 4th to $ 3.8 billion on January 6th in two nights of uncertainty in the country. The share price fell after reports that banks like Kaspi and Halyk would not process pension payments until the end of the government’s declared state of emergency slated for Jan. 19.