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Kazakh leader’s confidant joins billionaires’ club

Bulat Utemuratov, a Kazakh power broker dubbed by some country-watchers a “consigliere” to President Nursultan Nazarbayev, has joined Forbes magazine’s billionaire list.

This year’s list, published late on Wednesday, includes eight Kazakh residents. Utemuratov, 50, is a senior official in Nazarbayev’s administration. He rose through the ranks of the Soviet trade system and ran a state-owned grocery store in Almaty in the early 1980s. Utemuratov earned $1 billion by selling his stake in Kazakhstan’s No. 5 bank ATF to Italy’s UniCredit last year, according to Forbes. UniCredit paid $2.1 billion for 92% of ATF stock. Nazarbayev’s daughter Dinara and her husband Timur Kulibayev made the Forbes list again this year as the controlling shareholders of Halyk, the country’s third-largest bank.

Another billionaire Kazakh banker is Nurzhan Subkhanberdin, the chairman and largest stakeholder of No.1 bank Kazkommerts. Other Kazakh residents on the Forbes list are Kazakhmys Chairman Vladimir Kim and the three key shareholders of mining and metals company ENRC -- Patokh Chodiyev, Alijan Ibragimov and Alexander Mashkevich. (Reuters)