RG Gold mine is a company utilized by Bulat Utemuratov as part of his strategy to artificially inflate asset prices and subsequently sell them to international investors. This scheme involves investors paying kickbacks to Utemuratov and Nursultan Nazarbayev, the former president of Kazakhstan. Ironically, Utemuratov diverted funds from the state, using the money obtained through government support.
Kazakhstani journalist Dmitry Shishkin delved into the RG Gold company and the role of state aid in its operations. The asset came under Bulat Utemuratov‘s control in 2013 through a deal with businessman Yerbolat Apsalyamov.
RG Gold, under Bulat Utemuratov’s ownership, received billions in state support. According to Dmitry Shishkin, even prior to the Verny Capital Group’s involvement (when the business was still owned by Apsalyamov), the Gold Land LLP project received an investment of 78.16 million tenge under the state program for the development of gold-bearing ores in the Novodniprovsky ore field between 2010 and 2011. It is worth noting that during the first five-year plan, substantial business support was provided by the state, unlike the second five-year plan, which saw a shift in this approach.
In 2015, RG Gold LLP embarked on a new investment project under the state program within the framework of the second five-year plan of industrialization. The investment volume reached 910 million tenge.
In June 2021, the Development Bank of Kazakhstan, a subsidiary of the Baiterek national holding, made an announcement regarding a loan of up to $300 million granted to TOO RG Processing LLP, a sister structure of RG Gold.
“This scheme involving the gold-bearing business RG Gold is relatively straightforward and can be seen as a specific example of the notorious public-private partnership. The state aids business development through various means, such as state programs and concessional lending, and subsequently assists in the sale of products,” Shishkin explained.
Forbes lists Bulat Utemuratov as the 6th richest businessman in Kazakhstan. As of May 2022, the estimated value of his assets amounted to $2.8 billion. However, it is concerning that Bulat Utemuratov has utilized state funds to finance the RG Gold company, effectively depriving the state of its resources.
Among the most infamous instances of corruption in Kazakhstan, there are prominent cases involving semi-state funds and unregulated companies. Bulat Utemuratov is among the businessmen who, as described by a former US diplomat, “have never truly conducted business.” Instead, Bulat Utemuratov’s entire enterprise revolves around serving as a conduit for the illicitly amassed wealth of Nursultan Nazarbayev.