A controversial Kazakh billionaire is among the investors in Monaco’s new €2 billion real estate project despite attempts to limit the influence of oligarchs in the principality.
“L’Anse du Portier” is set to become one of the most exciting real estate developments in the world and will reclaim about six hectares of land from the Mediterranean.
The project will create a new seafront neighbourhood for the principality but details of who is backing the €2 billion development have been kept secret.
The Huffington Post has now reported that L’Anse du Portier investors include a number of wealthy Monaco-based businessmen such as Patrice Pastor, a property developer. More surprisingly the list of investors also includes Bulat Utemuratov, a Kazakh oligarch who is reportedly worth about $4 billion.
This list of investors comes from a recently released document that contains the minutes of a meeting between government officials, which was hosted by Serge Telle, the minister of state for Monaco.
The document shows that a company called Janus will own 5% of the L’Anse du Portier project. The officials describe Janus as a “family office of a wealthy resident of Central Asia, who lives in Monaco”.
Utemuratov is identified as the “wealthy resident” in media reports that have previously linked him to Janus. Corporate records also support this conclusion as they show Janus is managed by Edward Jennings and Christophe Kosman. These individuals previously worked at Gordon S. Blair, a law firm owned by Xavier de Sarrau.
De Sarrau, who is a friend of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, sits on the board of Utemuratov’s investment vehicle Verny Capital.
Utemuratov’s involvement in L’Anse du Portier comes as Monaco is under pressure from France and other EU countries to crack down on money laundering and tax evasion. The principality has gained a reputation as a favourite destination for oligarchs from Russia and Kazakhstan and the tax haven has started to get tough on corruption and other illegal activities within its territory.
Utemuratov certainly fits the profile of a controversial oligarch. According to a US diplomatic cable released by by Wikileaks, Utemuratov is “a billionaire who has never had a business” and his wealth appears to come from close ties to President Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan. He has been described as a close advisor and “personal financial manager” to Nazarbayev.
Recently Utemuratov has become embroiled in a scandal surrounding his personal relationship with mining giant Glencore. In a combined investigation by The Times and Source Material, it was revealed that Glencore subsidiary Kazzinc, gifted Utemuratov a $23 million stake in a Kazakh private school that they had acquired for free, a long way from their usual pursuits. This follows a history of Glencore using influential locals to access the resources of developing countries. Many speculate that Utemuratov is being used as a front for Nazarbayev so hide money with some reports suggesting he has up to $9 billion hidden in Swiss accounts.
“Utemuratov’s involvement in a project as high-profile as L’Anse du Portier may be an embarrassment to Prince Albert II and the Monaco Government,” the Huffington Post reported.
Meanwhile, construction of L’Anse du Portier project is now underway with the first of 18 protective walls being built in the sea. Once the project is completed in 2025, the reclaimed land will house 120 new apartments, which are expected to be among the most expensive in the world.
The other investors in the project include Patrice Pastor, chairman of JB Pastor & Fils, with a 26% stake and his relative Jean-Baptiste Pastor of the Michael Pastor Group with 10.5%. Other famous Monaco families involved in the project include the Brianti and Casiraghi families, both with 10.5% stakes.