Kazakh Oligarchs Spend money on Main US Cyber Protection Firms

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Galimzhan Yessenov, a politically-connected oligarch from Kazakhstan, has emerged as a potential investor in US firms working in delicate sectors together with cyber protection and drone manufacturing.

Yessenov, who’s estimated to be price $500 million, is the co-owner of a non-public fairness fund referred to as Asadel Companions, which is a part of a gaggle that has secretly acquired stakes in varied US companies which have hyperlinks to the Pentagon.

Yessenov’s potential involvement in these delicate US companies has raised issues given his shut ties to the regime of Kazakhstan’s former president Nursultan Nazarbayev. His father-in-law is Akhmetzhan Yessimov, the previous deputy prime minister of Kazakhstan and the present chairman of the nation’s $60 billion sovereign wealth fund.

Yessenov’s wealth reportedly stems from his political connections and he’s described as a “politically uncovered individual” in international compliance databases.

Yessenov’s enterprise associate in Asadel is Margulan Seisembayev, who was convicted in 2012 of embezzling greater than $1 billion from Alliance Financial institution in Kazakhstan. Seisembayev was given a two-year suspended sentence however has since developed the Asadel group to incorporate a spread of funding funds.

In accordance with archived Asadel webpages, the funds have invested in firms together with Cylance Inc, a California-based cyber safety agency. Cylance’s “Operation Cleaver” investigation uncovered an Iranian cyberattack in 2014 that had focused international essential infrastructure together with US Authorities and army installations. Cylance was acquired by Blackberry in 2019 however it isn’t identified if Asadel stays an investor.

Galimzhan Yessenov’s shut ties to the Nazarbayev regime might be a problem given rising concern on the Pentagon and US Treasury over infiltration of US expertise firms by wealthy traders from Russia, China and different nations.

In January, the Treasury expanded the powers of the Committee on Overseas Funding in america (CFIUS), which displays foreigners shopping for stakes in US firms. The brand new guidelines considerably expanded CFIUS’s powers and it could possibly now block international traders shopping for stakes in expertise firms, telecommunications, utilities, vitality firms and corporations that course of private monetary or biographical information.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has additionally blocked a number of offers involving Chinese language expertise firms amid rising concern over international affect in key industries.

Though the Asadel group has taken down various its web sites, the archived pages reveal different firms that the funds have apparently invested in. These embrace Darkish Shadows Inc. a Silicon Valley-based cyber agency that gives menace intelligence and darkish net monitoring. The corporate was based by protection trade veterans and actively recruits former army personnel.

One other Asadel funding was in Countertack, which is now referred to as GoSecure Inc. GoSecure has attracted funding from OnPoint Applied sciences, a enterprise capital fund created by the US Military and the Pentagon. One other of GoSecure’s companions is ManTech, which gives intelligence companies to the US army.

Asadel additionally seems to have invested in SkyWard IO, which manages and operates drones for American vitality and utility firms. SkyWard was acquired by Verizon in 2017.

Asadel Companions was launched by Yessenov and Seisembayev in 2014 and is one in all various funds throughout the Asadel group. Different funds within the group are primarily based in opaque jurisdictions comparable to United Arab Emirates and are owned by Seisembayev or his spouse. It’s not identified how lots of the funds Yessenov is concerned with.