Alleged money launderer Bota Jardemalie and her "interesting" lawyers

On October 1st of this year, the Brussels home of Botagaz (known as ‘Bota’) Jardemalie, wanted in her home country of Kazakhstan for questioning over her complicity in the 'embezzlement' of up to $7.6 billion from the BTA Bank, a crime perpetrated by the convicted murderer Mukhtar Ablyazov, once described in the British press as “the World’s richest fraudster” was raided by Belgian police officers in the presence of Kazakh investigators.

This was in full accordance with EU and UN protocols on fighting fraud and corruption, as confirmed by Minister of Justice Koen Geens.

Ms. Jardemalie is reported to reside in Belgium with the status of a “persecuted” political refugee - a so-called ‘oppositionist’ to the Kazakh government. 

However, her associations with what might be described as being nothing less than an organised international crime syndicate, operating not only in Europe, but within the EU institutions themselves, have cast serious doubts not only on her official status, but upon those who profess to be the defenders of her “human rights”. 

A preliminary investigation by the Economic Crime Department, it has been reported, revealed that she “has a prosperous lifestyle, does not pay taxes in Belgium and doesn’t show her income.”

On her arrival in Belgium Ms. Jardemalie appears to have established what might be called a “working relationship” with the Belgian law firm Ruchat Lexial, founded by Emmanuel Ruchat, a well-connected expert in immigration issues, criminal and political law. 

One might assume that this relationship could have been beneficial to Jardemalie not only in her need for asylum, but also in her alleged business activities.

In February 2016, a company that she appears to have herself founded was co-incidentally sold to Ruchat Lexial, with Jardemalie being appointed to the position of managing director. 

In September of the same year she resigned from her position and shortly thereafter the company was sold to two Lebanese businessmen, Fadi Abdul Had and Mazen Hawwa, both originally hailing from Beirut but giving addresses in Kuwait.

EU Today’s investigations have failed to uncover any concrete information concerning the two Lebanese gentlemen.

In 2017 it was reported that the Belgian judiciary was conducting an investigation against Ms. Jardemalie over allegations of laundering some $100 million in that country. It not suggested that the investigations relate to the aforementioned transaction.

Following the recent raid on Ms. Jardemalie’s Brussels home, in the up-market neighbourhood of Uccle, during which an EU Today source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that items of ‘interest’ were found, she is reported to have engaged the services of another Belgian lawyer, one Christophe Marchand.

Marchand has previously represented in court such high profile clients as Edward Snowden, accused by the U.S. government of espionage, and Julian Assange, accused of sexual offences, as well as controversial Catalonian separatists, including Adrià Carrasco, who in April of 2018 was accused of terrorism and rebellion, and of  "leading and coordinating acts of sabotage" with the aim of "moving the Catalan conflict to the streets with violent actions”.

Marchand was also the defence lawyer of Hicham Beyayo, one of a number of radicalised Belgian Muslims implicated in an attempted terrorist attack in Brussels in 2008 prior to an EU summit. 

Marchand said that his client, whose brothers have served time in prison for robbery and arms trafficking, had been approached in a mosque near his home in Anderlecht, in ‘an attempt to travel to Afghanistan to fight against Americans to restore the Taliban to power’.

He said, seemingly in defence of his client, “He is the intellectual of the family,… He bears no ill will against Belgium. He went to Afghanistan to join an Islamic resistance movement.”

Marchand also represented the Moroccan born Youness Loukili, another terror suspect, who had fought in Iraq, and who was one of the main suspects in a high profile terrorism trial in Brussels.

In his defence of Loukili, Marchand stated that  he and his fellow insurgents were “soldiers fighting a legitimate war against an occupying force.”  

The lawyer further stated that the rules of criminal law were not applicable in their case, although rather embarrassingly, and one suspects to the amusement of the court, his own client undermined this argument by stating that he had never in fact fought in Iraq.

However, whilst he denied in court such activities, Loukili was subsequently reported to have fought alongside the notorious terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, himself responsible for numerous bombings and beheadings. 

Marchand, an advisory board member of the NGO Fair Trials is described on the website of the organisation as having experience of dealing with ‘complex and international cases including money laundering’ and ‘murder…’

One might imagine that Monsieur Marchand, albeit a respected figure in the Belgian legal community, might fit perfectly into the ongoing saga that is the tale of the fugitive oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov.

Read also: Bota Jardemalie, associate of fugitive oligarch Mukhtar Ablyazov, subject to police investigation in Brussels

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor and Brussels correspondent of EU Today.

An experienced journalist and author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

In October 2021 POLITICO described Gary as "the busiest man in Brussels!"

Gary's most recent book WANTED MAN: THE STORY OF MUKHTAR ABLYAZOV: A Manual for Criminals on How to Avoid Punishment in the EU is currently available from Amazon

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