06ASTANA147, KAZAKHSTAN’S “BONUS SCANDAL”: PUBLIC COMPANIES IN THE

WikiLeaks Link

To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.
Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol).Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #06ASTANA147.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06ASTANA147 2006-09-27 12:05 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO1797
RR RUEHDBU RUEHLN RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHAST #0147/01 2701205
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 271205Z SEP 06
FM USOFFICE ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0265
INFO RUEHTA/AMEMBASSY ALMATY 0233
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE
RUEHAST/USOFFICE ASTANA 0286

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 000147 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
SIPDIS, SCA/CEN - O'MARA 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV ECON ENRG KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN'S "BONUS SCANDAL":  PUBLIC COMPANIES IN THE 
PUBLIC EYE 
 
REF: REF A.  ALMATY 3278, REF B.  ALMATY 2888, REF C.  ALMATY 3274 
 
ASTANA 00000147  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
1. (SBU) Summary:  The so-called "bonus scandal," in which 
President Nazarbayev lashed out against the exorbitant level of 
salaries paid to top executives at state-owned companies, has 
added to the mounting criticism of the government.  The media 
has portrayed the affair as part of Nazarbayev's effort to 
correct the government's errant ways.  Although nominally 
tainted by the scandal, the newly created state holding 
companies Samruk and Kazyna are unlikely to be weakened.  In all 
likelihood, the developments represent a carefully stage-managed 
anti-corruption move, a shift of spoils between competing 
elites, and flexing of presidential muscle over the control of 
state-owned enterprises.  End summary. 
 
 
NAZARBAYEV BREAKS THE STORY 
 
2. (U) At the September 20 Security Council meeting, President 
Nazarbayev sharply criticized top management salaries at 
Kazakhstan's national companies.  The session, parts of which 
were televised, saw an outpouring of what the media widely 
described as the President's "indignation" at the level of 
compensation enjoyed by top executives of some prominent 
national companies.  Nazarbayev specifically mentioned the state 
holding company Samruk, Samruk's constituent company 
KazakhTelecom, the development fund umbrella organization 
Kazyna, and Kazyna's constituent Kazakhstan Development Bank. 
 
3. (U) The brunt of Nazarbayev's anger fell on Khayrat 
Karibzhanov, president of the telecommunications monopoly 
KazakhTelecom.  Addressing Prime Minister Daniyal Akhmetov, 
Nazarbayev demanded the dismissal of Karibzhanov, whose salary, 
he said, was $364,000 a month.  Among others, Nazarbayev also 
mentioned the former President of the Kazakhstan Development 
Bank Kambar Shalgimbayev ($100,000 a month), and the head and 
deputy heads of Samruk (respectively, $34,000 and $32,500 a 
month).  (Note: one of the two deputy heads of Samruk is 
Nazarbayev' son-in-law Timur Kulibayev.  End note.)  Karibzhanov 
has since been fired. 
 
4. (SBU) "All who have lost their shame," said Nazarbayev, "must 
return the money to the state."  Those who fail to do so, he 
continued, are to be put on a "special list to be published, 
followed by an investigation in accordance with the law." 
Nazarbayev gave the General Procuracy a month to investigate the 
issue of remuneration in national companies.  Some officials, 
including Karibzhanov, have returned their bonuses.  A Samruk 
insider told Econoff that at least one official of the holding 
company has "voluntarily" reduced his salary.  Defending his 
organization to members of the Mazhilis (lower house of 
Parliament) on September 21, Samruk Acting Executive Director 
Sauat Mynbayev clarified that Karibzhanov's base salary last 
year was, in fact, $6,500 a month.  With bonuses, it amounted to 
$140,000 a month, still "incredibly high," Mynbayev said, but 
not as high as the monthly sum of $365,000 announced by 
Nazarbayev. 
 
SAMRUK AFFECTED... 
 
5. (SBU) According to the Samruk insider, Karibzhanov's 2005 
compensation was determined by a long-standing mechanism which 
set aside a bonus pool based on the company's profitability.  By 
"effectively taking advantage of its monopoly power," he said, 
KazakhTelecom has, indeed, been very profitable.  According to 
press reports, KazakhTelecom and KazMunaiGas, the state oil & 
gas company, together accounted for 99% of Samruk's 2005 income. 
 (Note:  Established in January 2006, Samruk currently holds the 
assets of KazakhTelecom, KazMunaiGas, the post office KazPost, 
the railroad Kazakhstan TemirZholy, and the Kazakhstan 
Electrical Grid Operating Company, KEGOC.  See Ref A.  End note.) 
 
6. (SBU) The Samruk insider further told Econoff that the 
scandal reflects Samruk's failure to date to establish effective 
reporting channels with constituent companies.  The companies 
under the Samruk umbrella did not inform the Samruk management 
of incoming official inquiries on executive salaries, he said. 
Samruk, the insider added, had intended to review the salary 
issue but was upstaged by the scandal.  He expressed some 
concern that, in the short term, the scandal represents a public 
relations blow to the still-young Samruk. 
 
...BUT NOT DAMAGED... 
 
7. (SBU) Observers, however, have not blamed Samruk and Kazyna 
for the salary debacle.  Media coverage has portrayed the 
emergence of the salary issue as part of President Nazarbayev's 
drive to fight corruption and clean up the government, 
particularly in the wake of the HIV infection scandal in South 
Kazakhstan (Ref B).  In both scandals, much blame has been 
 
ASTANA 00000147  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
directed at the government but not at the Presidential Palace. 
Nazarbayev's decision to raise the issue in a very public forum 
has further fueled media speculation that the government's d
ays 
may be numbered.  In power for three years as of June 2006, 
Daniyal Akhmetov is the longest-serving prime minister in the 
history of independent Kazakhstan. 
 
...AS BIGGER CHANGES MAY BE AFOOT 
 
8. (U) Talgat Mukashev, an observer writing for a Russian-based 
website centrasia.org, views the bonus scandal through the prism 
of an emerging "new hierarchy of economic power in the country." 
 Citing ample talk of creating additional state holding 
companies, he sees a drive toward consolidation of key economic 
assets. (Note:  A new agricultural state holding company, 
KazAgro, is in the works, per Ref C.  There is also discussion 
of forming a metallurgical state holding company.  End note.) 
The bonus scandal, according to this view, is a shift in the 
balance of power between various elite groups competing for 
control of the assets.  In particular, Mukashev sees PM 
Akhmetov's government losing control over state-owned companies. 
 (Comment:  Post sees a possible connection between this 
development and reported plans to strengthen the power of 
Parliament and the government.  It is too early, however, to 
definitively judge the cause-and-effect relationships, if any. 
End comment.) 
 
9. (SBU) Karibzhanov's ouster comes amid other changes at 
KazakhTelecom.  In the wake of Samruk's creation, the company's 
entire board of directors was replaced in June, with the 
exception of Karibzhanov himself.  Furthermore, there is much 
discussion of a staged privatization of KazakhTelecom through 
initial public offerings, both on the Kazakhstani Stock Exchange 
(KASE) and abroad. 
 
10. (SBU) Comment:  Although the bonus scandal has nominally 
impacted Samruk and Kazyna, it is unlikely to weaken these 
institutions.  Only recently created, Samruk and Kazyna are 
currently at the core of the GOK's key economic policies, the 
former for bringing efficiency and transparency to state-owned 
enterprises, the latter for diversifying the economy away from 
energy.  With plans underway to bring more state-owned companies 
into Samruk and direct more government resources toward economic 
development in the non-energy sector (presumably through 
Kazyna), it is likely that both institutions will continue to 
grow in importance.  The current shake-up may continue the trend 
of more Samruk insiders being appointed to key positions at 
Samruk's constituent companies.  This should strengthen the 
holding company's ability to implement changes within its 
components and help prevent reporting breakdowns such as the 
constituent companies' recent failure to inform Samruk of the 
government's salary inquiries.  End comment. 
MILAS

Wikileaks

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: