Nazarbayev’s top aide quits as banking sector weakens

ALMATY/Sept. 17 (The Conway Bulletin) — Adilbek Zhaksybekov, regarded as one of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s most loyal allies, quit as head of the Presidential Administration in the midst of a growing banking crisis focused on the company that his family controls.

Four days after quitting, Mr Zhaksybekov’s Tsesnabank, the second largest bank in Kazakhstan, was effectively given a $1.2b bailout by the government when it stepped in to buy its agriculture loan portfolio. Tsesnabank had already borrowed $400m from the Central Bank in August to ease its liquidity problems.

In place of Mr Zhaksybekov, Mr Nazarbayev promoted the urbane Asset Issekeshev, 47, who had been mayor of Astana. He now becomes one of the most powerful men in the country, setting off speculation that Mr Nazarbayev may be lining him up as a successor.

Explaining his reshuffle, Mr Nazarbayev said that Mr Issekeshev had successfully delivered the Astana EXPO last year.

“He is distinguished by his active approach and positive style. Now we need such a person,” Mr Nazarbayev said in a statement. Bakhyt Sultanov, the finance minister, replaced Mr Issekeshev as the mayor of Astana.

Officially Mr Zhaksybekov quit the government because at 64 he had reached retirement but on the day he was dismissed his holding company, Tsesna, named him its chairman. Mr Zhaksybekov had been head of the Presidential Administration previously, from 2004-8.


>>This story was taken from issue 385 of the weekly Conway Bulletin newspaper

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