Bulat Utemuratov: I have nothing to hide

In his interview with Bloomberg, Bulat Utemuratov spoke more about his development as a billionaire.

It all started out in 1992, when the 34-year-old Bulat Utemuratov was sent to Austria to work as a General Director of the first Kazakh Trade House. European companies were interested in buying metals from Kazakhstan, and Kazakhstan was interested in obtaining loans from these countries. And Bulat Utemuratov had to become a negotiator between these parts. The billionaire confessed that he first thought he was being sent from Kazakhstan. However, his boss convinced him that it was a great opportunity, which he had to take.

According to Bulat Utemuratov, living in Austria had changed him completely. “I was a free and self-confident man, freed from the anxiety and fear.” In Kazakhstan, he was appointed Deputy Minister of Foreign Economic Relations. In 1994 he became the first Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of Kazakhstan. In 1995, he founded the Almaty Trading and Financial Bank CJSC, which was renamed into ATFBank in 2002.

During this period, Bulat Utemuratov also started reselling zinc and copper. He bought it from Kazakhstan miners and sold it to external companies. This was his first business. Today, Bulat Utemuratov is one of the richest people of Kazakhstan. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, his fortune is estimated at $3.4 billion.

Between 1996 and 1999, Bulat Utemuratov served as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Kazakhstan to Switzerland.  During the next 15 years, he also held various positions in the Administration of the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev. At the same time, Bulat Utemuratov, notes that he never used his posts to acquire wealth. “I have nothing to hide,” – says the billionaire. “All of my assets were purchased on the secondary market, from private owners.” Bulat Utemuratov also added that working in the government did not prevent him from developing his own business. He invested in the mining industry, hotels, telecommunications and media.

In May 2010, Bulat Utemuratov became the special representative of the President of Kazakhstan on cooperation with Kyrgyzstan. He also owns several enterprises in this area. The billionaire admits that the turning point for him, as a businessman, came in 2007 when he sold ATFBank to the European banking group UniCredit for two billion dollars. “After the sale of ATFBank, I decided that we should stop using offshore companies and become more open, everything should be clean,” noted the billionaire.