Is this Britain’s most extravagant (and brazen) fraudster? Court papers reveal treasure trove of luxury homes, cars and this £175,000 watch – as couple go on run with investors’ cash
Maksat Arip was jailed for two years in absentia for contempt after refusing to hand over his watch collection
A global hunt for the fugitive behind a £250million City fraud has revealed an extraordinary treasure trove of luxury properties, watches, cars and art enjoyed by the businessman and his wife.
Maksat Arip’s recycling and packaging firm Kazakhstan Kagazy raised hundreds of millions of pounds from investors when it listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2007 and issued bonds.
But in 2016, the company delisted, making its shares worthless, and an investigation found that Arip and a business partner had defrauded the company through a series of construction and land deals.
Now, after a long-running legal battle to win back investors’ money, The Mail on Sunday can reveal how Arip and his wife Sholpan spent their cash.
Papers revealed last week say Arip’s wife argued in the London High Court that her average monthly living expenses came to nearly £220,000.
A worldwide freezing order by the High Court disclosed that among her assets were a Mercedes Benz 550e, a Mercedes Benz GLS 350d and a Bentley Continental GT, as well as a luxury Swiss villa.
The High Court was also told that Maksat Arip is the ultimate owner of a £17million Kensington mansion with an indoor pool, sauna and gym, which he and his wife are understood to have used as their main UK home.
Luxury: This Swiss mansion was one of the assets of Sholpan Arip
Frozen assets: Arip’s wife’s car fleet included a Bentley
The couple are also believed to own, through offshore vehicles and trusts, a development in Belgravia which they bought for £14million in 2008 and four luxury apartments in Mayfair, which cost £18million.
The courts have heard that Arip’s wife gave £59million to her mother and £13million to her brother.
In August, Maksat Arip was sentenced to two years in jail in absentia by Mr Justice Phillips for contempt after refusing to hand over his luxury watch collection, which included a £175,000 Richard Mille wristwatch.
The courts found that Maksat Arip, who helped run the KK Group from 2003 to 2009, tried to commit the ‘perfect fraud’ with business partner Shynar Dikhanbayeva by arguing that his theft of money from Kazakhstan Kagazy was so obvious that the victims should have acted sooner.
Lord Justice Longmore told the High Court: ‘The essence of the… defence is that the fraud was so obvious that [Kazakhstan Kagazy] ought to have discovered it and issued proceedings before 2013.
‘If the defendants ultimately succeed on that defence, they might then have achieved the “perfect fraud”. The money which had been stolen… will become irrecoverable.’
Maksat Arip has a penchant for expensive watches
Maksat Arip and Dikhanbayeva had already been ordered to pay £232million to the Kazakhstan Kagazy group last year by Mr Justice Picken.
He said ‘the defendants went to considerable lengths to hide their tracks’, adding that Arip was a ‘thoroughly dishonest witness’.
Although Arip’s wife is not accused of defrauding the company itself, she was the subject of a High Court worldwide freezing order in 2018 and in April 2019 the claimants demanded proper disclosure of her assets.
The judge said that there was a ‘strong case for saying that the disclosure hitherto provided has been inadequate with significant or serious deficiencies’.
In the New Year, lawyers for Kazakhstan Kagazy will launch an asset tracking and recovery case against the couple after a series of crushing legal defeats for the Arips, who are both from Kazakhstan originally.
The couple, who are understood to carry Cypriot and Caribbean passports, are believed to split their time between a number of countries.
Arip’s wife is understood to be living in a large villa in Rome and Arip himself is believed to be spending at least part of the time in Russia.