What Is the Kazakhstan National Fund?
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What Is the Kazakhstan National Fund?

3 Min.

The National Bank of the Republic of Kazakhstan operates the Kazakhstan National Fund, which is a sovereign wealth fund for Kazakhstan established in 2000. Its primary purpose is to function as a stabilization fund, which aims to minimize the negative effect of fluctuations in oil, gas, and mineral prices on the country. The fund receives its funding from excess revenue generated by taxes on the development of oil, gas, and mineral reserves. 

Basics

In Kazakhstan's fiscal management, the Kazakhstan National Fund takes center stage. This sovereign wealth fund is under the vigilant oversight of the National Bank of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Founded in the year 2000, it is crucial as a stabilizing force. Its primary mission is to mitigate the adverse repercussions of the volatile fluctuations in oil, gas, and mineral prices, thereby shielding the Republic of Kazakhstan from economic turbulence. This financial juggernaut finds its sustenance from the surplus revenues generated through taxation on the exploitation of oil, gas, and mineral reserves.

Exploring the Kazakhstan National Fund

In the year 2000, an entity known as the Kazakhstan National Fund emerged with a singular mission: to serve as a stabilizing force. Its primary objective revolves around mitigating the reverberations caused by the unpredictable fluctuations in oil, gas, and mineral prices within the Republic of Kazakhstan.

This formidable financial entity draws its sustenance from the surplus revenues stemming from oil, gas, and mineral reserve development taxation. The assets under its vigilant care, as reported by the Kazakhstan National Bank in January 2023, stood at a formidable $61 billion.

It's important to note that this fund operates in the shadows, maintaining a shroud of secrecy. It works without a website and refrains from issuing public reports on its activities. Consequently, unraveling the intricacies of its governance, holdings, and investment strategies remains an elusive endeavor.

Kazakhstan National Fund's Assets Frozen

Back in October 2017, the Bank of New York Mellon (BNY) took a significant step by freezing a substantial $22.6 billion in assets owned by Kazakhstan's National Fund. This move came as a result of a legal feud between the Kazakh government and a Moldovan investor, with a Belgian court order as the driving force. The freeze was reportedly linked to persistent political conflicts within Kazakhstan and suspicions of corruption intertwined with the Fund.

Fast forward to January 2018, a Dutch court intervened and partially lifted the freeze, albeit with conditions. In April 2020, a British court also entered the fray, but it refrained from granting comprehensive relief to the Kazakh government, which had been seeking to overturn the Dutch court's concessions. Instead, the British court deferred the final decision to the original Belgian court, which deliberated on the case in December 2020.  By order of 28 October 2022, the Court of Appeal rejected the evidence adduced by Kazakhstan and the National Bank in support of their objection that enforcement was contrary to public policy.

This legal tangle delves into a fundamental question: whether sovereign wealth funds should be perceived as extensions of governments or autonomous institutional investors. These enigmatic entities, with Norway's fund reigning as the largest, boasting over $1 trillion in assets, command a staggering $7 trillion in wealth globally. Hence, the outcome of this case has drawn keen attention from governments worldwide.

Conclusion

The Kazakhstan National Fund, overseen by the National Bank of the Republic of Kazakhstan, was established in 2000 to stabilize the country's economy amidst volatile resource prices. It draws funding from resource taxation and manages assets exceeding $61 billion as of January 2023.

Kazakhstan National Fund
Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF)
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