MI6 agents accused of assisting corrupt Kazakh oil propaganda effort

Rakhat Aliyev

Rakhat Aliyev

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
Until recently, Rakhat Aliyev was deeply embedded in Kazakhstan’s corrupt governing establishment. Having served for years as the country’s Deputy Foreign Minister and Director of Kazakhstan’s National Security Committee (the intelligence service, also known as KNB) he is uniquely aware of the annals of sleaze and fraud that dominate Kazakh political culture. In 2007, following his divorce with Dariga Nazarbayeva, eldest daughter of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Aliyev became estranged from the Kazakh leadership. He was stripped of his government positions, issued with an arrest warrant, and now lives in exile in Vienna, Austria. Soon after his estrangement from the Kazakh leadership, Aliyev began accusing President Nazarbayev of regularly receiving secret commissions from foreign oil companies operating in Kazakhstan, and of illegally expropriating state assets worth billions of US dollars. Based on these and other allegations, the US Justice Department began last year an ongoing investigation of the activities of US petroleum companies operating in Kazakhstan. Upon receiving news of the US Justice Department investigation, the Kazakh government hired Global Options Management, a Washington-based private security management company, to present US Justice Department officials with a propaganda report exonerating the Kazakh leadership of all corruption accusations. Those familiar with the murky world of Central Asian oil politics will not be surprised to read that Global Options Management is in fact owned by Alexander Mirtchev, an economic adviser to the Kazakh government, who has previously worked for Dariga ¬†Nazarbayeva, President Nazarbayev’s daughter. What is even more interesting, however, is that the 300-page report, copies of which have been leaked to the press, cites “exonerating information” allegedly obtained by two anonymous serving officers of MI6, Britain’s external intelligence agency. The information relates to MI6’s “close observ[ation]” of Hurricane Hydrocarbons (recently renamed to PetroKazakhstan, Inc.), a Canadian oil and gas exploration company operating in Kazakhstan, as well as to sensitive intelligence stored in MI6 files about Akezhan Kazhegeldin, Kazakhstan’s former Prime Minister, who now lives in exile in Belgium. The question is, why would MI6 agents cooperate with a propaganda report aiming to exonerate the Kazakh leadership over corruption allegations? The intelligence agency has unofficially hinted that it did not authorize any of its agents to assist Global Options Management in compiling the report. Does this mean that the two MI6 agents independently –and illegally– contracted the information? Or are perhaps the authors of Global Options Management’s report being deceitful about their sources? So far, the MI6 leadership and Global Options Management executives have remained silent about this incident. A case of cooperative duplicity?

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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