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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kazakhs Deny Taking Bribes




ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- The prosecutor general denied allegations Thursday that top Kazakh officials took bribes from a U.S. oil consultant, calling the contention "fiction."


The U.S. Justice Department is investigating whether oil consultant James Giffen, chairman of the New York-based consulting firm Mercator Corp., helped funnel as much as $115 million to Kazakh officials, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.


In July, Swiss officials confirmed they had frozen bank accounts connected with the Central Asian nation at the request of the United States in relation to the probe.


The allegations suggest that Mercator channeled money from several oil companies, including Amoco Corp., the former Mobil Corp. and Phillips Petroleum, to top Kazakh officials in exchange for government contracts.


The oil companies are not targeted by the investigation, according to The Wall Street Journal. Kazakh officials have denied any wrongdoing.


On Thursday, Kazakh Prosecutor General Yury Khatrin called the allegations "complete nonsense and fiction."


He denied that bank accounts had been frozen, but confirmed that the government has accounts abroad.


On Monday, Kazakh Finance Minister Mazhit Yesenbayev, said the Kazakh government had no foreign bank accounts.