Does anyone else ever feel that we are stuck in a bizarre Alice-in-Wonderland scenario with some of the money laundering stories we see? One of my news feeds today informed me that Interpol has added Victor Khrapunov to its wanted list, as he is suspected of fraud, money laundering and organising a crime group – your basic PEP nightmare. For Mr Khrapunov is indeed one of the PEP-iest of PEPs: during his illustrious career, he has served as Mayor of Almaty [the main commercial city of Kazakhstan], Minister for Energy and Natural Resources, Governor of the Province of Eastern Kazakhstan, and Minister for Disaster Protection. He has also been awarded the Republic of Kazakhstan’s ‘Parasat’ award “for exceptional services in the fields of science and culture, literature and the arts, and for his promotion of human rights and the protection of social values”. How do I know all of this? Why, from Mr Khrapunov’s own website, of course!
I assume that Interpol has already followed this hot lead, and so knows that Mr Khrapunov now lives in Switzerland “from where he continues his commitment to his homeland by encouraging dialogue and democracy”. He left Kazakhstan in 2007, where “ever more numerous instances of government dysfunction in his struggle to defend his vision of Kazakhstan’s national interest… undermined his health. With heavy hearts, Viktor Khrapunov and his family resigned themselves to leaving their beloved homeland.” And why Switzerland? Well, he was drawn to “the Swiss system of direct democracy, which justly guarantees to all its citizens the right to participate in their own government”. I’m sorry – I’m just having too much fun with this. Now, I’m no Queen of Hearts, advocating “sentence first, verdict afterwards”, but I’m fairly sure that Interpol would not be pursuing a spotless campaigner for justice and democracy. And some bloggers are questioning Mr Khrapunov’s need to support his campaign with a bank balance of 400 million Swiss francs, which seems rather a generous salary for a Kazakhstani government minister… But it is a jolly nice website.