DW exceptional: Nazarbayev loved ones owns German luxurious real estate | Asia | An in-depth glance at news from across the continent | DW

The inside of Schloss Seelach is almost nothing small of gorgeous, boasting frescoes, majestic lights, stucco and fantastic wood ceiling panels. The decide on several who’ve been permitted to perspective the refurbished house say it is really one of the most impressive edifices in the German town of Baden-Baden.

The spa town in southwestern Germany, steeped in tradition with ties to what was at the time czarist Russia, stays a area of longing for multimillionaires from the put up-Soviet realm.

Through the 19th century, Schloss Seelach served as the summer season home of Mikhail Khreptovich, a effectively-respected Russian diplomat. Afterward, the grandiose setting up remained vacant for various a long time and fell into disrepair, till it was purchased up and restored to its former glory by “Kazakh traders,” as neighborhood newspapers described at the time.

Schloss Seelach in Baden-Baden Lichtenau

Schloss Seelach in 2004, prior to its restoration

The new Kazakh entrepreneurs put in 10 a long time acquiring the house, setting up various significant residential structures beside the historic palace, and producing a wide backyard finish with a water fountain. They also experienced a 1,000 sq. meter underground spa constructed on the grounds a glass dome masking the 25-meter-very long swimming pool is so significant it can be spotted on satellite imagery.

Investments totaling €100 million

The German commercial registry indicates that Schloss Seelach GmbH, which retains and manages the house, noticed an maximize in share funds of €60 million ($52 million).

“They expended a great deal of funds,” a Baden-Baden resource explained to DW. The unique, who wishes to keep on being anonymous, was associated in building the residence many several years back. He claims loads of pics ended up taken to doc the development and despatched to the proprietors.

“A person time, they ended up unhappy with one particular of the frescoes, so every little thing experienced to be finished above, although €150,000 experienced currently been paid out [for the job]”, a unique source instructed DW.

DW found that the Kazakh investors have 3 additional qualities in the area, between them two remarkable edifices underneath exclusive defense: a villa after owned by architect Gustav Stroh, crafted in the early 20th century and Schlosshotel Bühlerhöhe. In whole, the Kazakh entrepreneurs invested over €100 million in four villas, as the German professional registry exhibits.

Estates fit for a president

“All this is owned by a single spouse and children by the household, if you know what I signify,” 1 supply told DW. The person, who needs to maintain his id top secret, when worked for the Kazakh buyers. He only alludes to what he is aware.

Decreasing his voice, as if fearing another person may well be eavesdropping, he told DW: “All this is fit for a president.”

Villa Stroh in Baden-Baden Lichtenau

Villa Stroh back in the calendar year 2004

Kazakhstan-centered Verus Praedium Intercontinental, in switch owned by the Kazach Kipros business, is a shareholder in the Schloss Seelach Make investments GmbH. The German transparency registry — set up only a number of yrs ago as component of an EU-huge drive to combat income laundering — reveals Timur Kulibayev to be the useful operator of this community of providers.

He is married to ex-president Nursultan Nazarbayev’s daughter Dinara, earning him his son-in-regulation.

A countrywide cultural monument

The transparency registry exhibits that Timur and his wife are joint helpful proprietors of a 2nd German company, the Bühlerhöhe Castle Invest GmbH. Mercury Qualities, a Kazakh true estate corporation, is a shareholder in Bühlerhöhe Castle Spend GmbH, and owns two inns near Baden-Baden.

A person of them, Schlosshotel Bühlerhöhe, is mentioned as a national cultural monument. Germany’s previous chancellor, Konrad Adenauer, was a normal at this establishment. 

In late 2013, the lodge was purchased by Kazakh buyers, producing it the fourth and remaining assets to improve palms. For a prolonged time, Nazarbayev’s connection to this little real estate empire remained unfamiliar.

It was, on the other hand, identified that Kazakh oil magnate Yakov Tskhay was a shareholder in companies possessing the several German motels and palaces. A Kazakh ministry of finance databases shows that he acted as a junior partner alongside Timur Kulibayev and his spouse Dina in a variety of genuine estate specials.

Oil magnate transfers ownership

The 71-calendar year-outdated Yakov Tskhay was the great applicant for earning these types of large investments with out attracting notice. In fact, you can not even find a photograph of Tskhay on the net.

For years, millions flowed through Tskhay’s Dostar-Devote holding and Dostar Oil Service into Baden-Baden houses. The professional registry displays Tskhay’s German actual estate corporations observed their share capital improve to over €100 million ($113 million).

Schloss Seelach after extensive repairs and construction work

Schloss Seelach right after intensive repairs and building get the job done


In 2020, when all design get the job done on Schloss Seelach was done, Tskhay transferred his shares in Schloss Seelach Spend GmbH to Verus Praedium Global, owned by Timur Kulibayev. A person yr previously, he had likewise transferred 90% of shares held in Bühlerhöhe Castle Commit GmbH — proprietor of Bühl Schlosshotel — to Mercury Houses, a Kazakh corporation owned by Timur Kulibayev and his wife.

DW reached out to the serious estate corporation in question to master about the factors for the possession transfer, still been given no reply. In accordance to the Mercury Attributes internet sites, the business has no German motels in its real estate portfolio.

A powerful son-in-legislation

Sandschar Bokajev, a perfectly-acknowledged Kazakh investigative blogger and political commentator, thinks Timur Kulibayev is minimal much more than a straw male. He suggests there is a important hazard of corruption when influential Kazakh businessmen sustain these types of close ties to Nursultan Nazarbayev’s family.

“Nazarbayev’s family users and individuals near to them have been privatizing the oil and gas sector, but also other normal resources as properly as metallurgy,” Bokajev informed DW. He continued to say that “everybody in Kazakhstan appreciates that without Timur Kulibayev’s permission no one can get included in the oil market.”

Nursultan Nazarbayev's son-in-law Timur Kulibayev

Nursultan Nazarbayev’s son-in-legislation Timur Kulibayev

Kulibayev chairs Kazenergy, an association representing Kazakhstan’s oil, gas and electrical power companies. Until eventually January this calendar year, he also served as chairman of Atameken, the Kazakh chamber of market and commerce, which instructions significant financial as very well as political impact.

Timur Kulibayev and his spouse are the country’s richest couple. Forbes estimates that jointly, the two have just about $6 billion (€5,29 billion). Their increase began when Nursultan Nazarbayev turned president in 1991. He remained in place of work until finally 2019, when he commenced little by little handing more than ability to his near ally Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

Inequality driver of the latest protests

To numerous men and women in Kazakhstan, the prosperity amassed by the Nazarbayev loved ones epitomizes the inequality that blights the nation, claims political scientist Dosym Satpayev. This gap amongst abundant and bad was one of the drivers of the new unrest that shook the region, until eventually a brutal governing administration crackdown finished the protests in January. Hundreds of folks died.

“While the elite with ties to Nazarbayev grew richer, poverty grew as very well,” Satpayev explained to DW. The power sector, which features considerable oil reserves, has made great prosperity for the ruling elites, even though employees have routinely gone on strike more than small spend, he spelled out.

Some of the protesters were being also aimed at previous president Nazarbayev, who subsequently stepped down as chairman of the Protection Council of Kazakhstan. His son-in-regulation Timur Kulibayev equally stepped down as chairman of Atameken. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev vowed to curtail the electrical power of the country’s oligarchs.

Opposition phone calls for asset freeze

Kazakh opposition lawmakers, some of whom have moved to Europe fearing repercussions, have for yrs demanded that overseas lender accounts and property linked to the Nazarbayev loved ones be frozen.

“We need sanctions against Nazarbayev’s household members and his closest allies for human rights violations and corruption, their asserts will have to be frozen,” London-based dissident Akeschan Kaschegeldin informed DW in January. In February, many Kazakh activists took to the streets in Berlin with very similar requires.

Sandschar Bokajev says freezing the assets of the former president and his family members customers would mail a signal. “It will only become very clear that the Nazarbayev era has ended when the income his family members has moved abroad flows again.”

Billions moved overseas

The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Job recently uncovered that charitable foundations controlled by Nursultan Nazarbayev managed world wide property well worth some $8 billion (€7 billion). Radio Liberty located that the Nazarbayev household owns luxury qualities across Europe (excluding Germany) and the US truly worth some $800 million (€705 million).

Kazakhstan's ex-President Nursultan Nazarbayev

Nursultan Nazarbayev dominated Kazakhstan from 1991 to 2019

Formally speaking, there is nothing illegal about the Kulibayevs investing in Germany. Carrying out so would count as illegal cash laundering only if the cash originate from prison things to do in Kazakhstan.

As these kinds of, from a legal point of view, there is very little to criticize about the investments, claims Thomas Helm of the German-Kazakh Affiliation. “In terms of seizing house, we can only take into account steps in line with the rule of law we will need to prove everything.”

Stashing away income

What do the owners program to do with their German properties? Kazakh actual estate firm Mercury Attributes will not remark.

“It looks like they are just seeking to stash away money,” Bühl mayor Hubert Schnurr instructed DW. He is unhappy, as no dollars has gone in direction of modernizing the two Bühl lodges that have remained shuttered for a long time.

Though documents display the new owners invested €20 million to purchase both properties, they have accomplished practically nothing to reopen to institutions. Over the previous several years, the only folks that have stayed in them had been some 100 Lithuanian construction employees, who were tasked with renovating the Kazakhs-owned villas.

“I continually receive email messages from German traders hunting to the acquire the resorts,” mayor Schnurr informed DW. “But the Kazakhs never reply to my inquiries.”

This post has been translated from German