40. Gurbanmuradov, Yelly

Date of Birth: February 25, 1960, Born in Ashgabat.

Biography: He graduated from the Turkmen Institute of National Economy (1977-1982). In 1977, he worked as a laboratory assistant and project affiliate of TNII branch “VNIIGAZ” in Ashgabat. Since 1978, he held numerous jobs in SU-1 “Turkmenneftegazstroy.” Since 1982, he was the Senior Economist in the financial department. From 1983-1987 he served as the Deputy Head of Urban Management of the Office of the State Bank of the USSR in Ashgabat. Since 1988 he was the Head of Automation and Mechanization of the State Bank (Ashgabat). Later in the same year he became the Deputy Chief of the regional department of Zhilsotsbank USSR. Since 1989, he worked in the Managing Department of AgropromBank in Kulieva village. In 1990 he became the branch manager of the USSR Vnesheconombank (Ashgabat). In 1992 he was the First Deputy Chairman of the State Bank for Foreign Economic Affairs of Turkmenistan. From June 15, 1993 to March 31, 2001 he was the Chairman of the State Bank for Foreign Economic Affairs of Turkmenistan. At the same time, beginning in 1994, he was appointed by Turkmenistan to the Board of Governors of the Islamic Development Bank. Also from December 27, 1995 he was the Deputy Chairman, and from June 4, 1997, Chairman of the Monetary Committee of the President of Turkmenistan. From May 28, 1996 to September 28, 2000, he was Director of the State Agency for Foreign Investments under the President of Turkmenistan. Simultaneously, from June 2, 1997 to May 20, 2005, he was the Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of Turkmenistan, overseeing the fuel and energy complex and chemical industry. Also from June 2, 1997, he served as the Chairman of the Interbank Board. On June 4, 1997, he was appointed to work at the International Monetary Fund for Turkmenistan. At the same time, beginning in June 1997, he was the Deputy Chairman of the Competent Authority for Use of Hydrocarbon Resources under the President of Turkmenistan (chaired by President Niyazov). From May 1999, he was the Director of the Committee for Foreign Investment under the President of Turkmenistan. He was relied of his post on May 20, 2005 in connection with criminal charges.

He was awarded medals “Ghairat” and “For the love of the fatherland.” He was given the honorary title, “Honored Economist of Turkmenistan.”

Arrest and Conviction: Gurbanmuradov was detained May 29, 2005, and charged with embezzlement of public funds totaling US $60.5 million and 7.1 billion Manat (Turkmenistan.ru, 21.05.2005), with the participation of the Turkish company “Erku” and front companies. He was also charged with attempting to create an artificial shortage of gasoline in the end of 2004; and for contacts with foreign intelligence services. Soon thereafter, the size of theft was increased to US $99.2 million and 5.9 billion Manat, of which 1.2 million and 2 billion Manat were returned by the accused. During the investigation, 20 houses and apartments, 18 cars, 450 kg of gold and silver jewelry, and more than 4,600 head of cattle were seized.

Soon rumors spread about his death—either suicide or homicide—in jail on June 2, 2005. According to official data, in June 2005 the case was sent to the Supreme Court of Turkmenistan (Turkmenistan.ru, 11.06.2005).

He was convicted in late July 2005 and sentenced to 25 years imprisonment with confiscation of property (Gundogar, 25.07.2005). It was reported that his cousin Begmurad Gurbanmuradov was to also appear before the court along with him. His cousin was former head of the “Turkmendenizyollary” (sea and river transport) (Turkmenistan.ru, 11.06.2005), who was accused of illegal shipment of oil from Turkmenbashi to Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan and other countries. A source confirms that Begmurad was convicted (Varna, 2014). According to unconfirmed reports, his civil wife Olga Kudratova was sentenced to 8-15 years in prison.

After the arrest of his mother and the confiscation of the house, his minor daughter Olga Kudratova was thrown into the streets (Gundogar, 25.07.2005, 16.01.2006). In February 2007, there were rumors of Gurbanmuradov’s possible release from Ovan Depe prison (Ferghana.ru, 05.02.2007), or transfer under house arrest regime, which were never confirmed (Human Rights Watch, November 2007, unconfirmed reports, citing diplomatic sources).

In 2014, Gurbanmuradov’s sister said that the relatives had not received any information on his state (Prague, 2014). According to unconfirmed reports at the end of May 2005, his father in-law, two friends and brothers Begench and Guvanch Gurbanmuradov were in the Ministry of National Security pre-trial detention center. The latter two were suspected of money laundering involving foreign firms, including in Pakistan. Other relatives were interrogated over a month (Deutch Welle, 01.06.2005). His younger brother, Velmurad Kurbanmuradov was summoned several times to the prosecutor’s office, and then arrested on July 5, 2005, but later released. In mid-December 2005, he was brutally beaten by “unknown persons” because he “did not keep his mouth shut.” According to the Gundogar website, he was soon arrested again, accused of illegal seizure of another’s property, and detained in January 2006 (Gundogar, 25.07.2005, 16.01.2006). According to others, he was brutally beaten, but was not convicted.

Gurbanmuradov’s case is linked to other business related criminal cases against a number of other high-ranking officials. On June 23, 2005 a high-ranking official, chairman of the State trading corporation “Turkmenneftegaz,” Ilyas Charyev, was fired “for serious shortcomings in his work” (Turkmenistan.ru, 23.06.2005). On September 13, 2005, Niyazov stated that he was sentenced to 25 years for bribery and abuse in trade. He was charged, specifically, with the theft of US$ 10 million (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, 21.09.2005). On August 12, 2005 Chairman of the Corporation “Turkmenneft,” Saparmamed Valiev, was dismissed (Turkmenistan.ru, 13.08.2005) and arrested on August 22, 2005, charged with appropriation, embezzlement and abuse of office, and deprived of State awards and honors, including the title of “Hero of Turkmenistan” (Turkmenistan.ru, 22.08.2005). On September 13, 2005, Niyazov stated that Valiev was sentenced to 20 years and that US$25 million has been seized from his person, along with 20 cars, 19 homes and cottages. (“Nezavisimaya Gazeta,” 21.09.2005). According to Radio Liberty, he was sentenced to 24 years imprisonment with confiscation of property (Radio Liberty, 19.09.2005). On September 13, 2005, in connection with the criminal case, Director of the Turkmenbashi refinery, Guychmyrad Esenov, was also dismissed. (Turkmenistan.ru, 14.09.2005). Niyazov stated that Esenov had been “stealing with E. Gurbanmuradov,” and three days previously had “returned” about 9,574,000,000 Manat and should return an additional US$2.111 million dollars. “What we already know is enough to put him away for 10 years.” There is unofficial evidence that he had been convicted following Niyazov’s public threat to do so.