High Court of Justice in London has handed down a 21-month prison sentence and ordered an arrest warrant for Tajik businessman Avaz Nazarov, who is reportedly being sued for $35 million for alleged non-payment of loans.

Leading international law firm Watson, Farley & Williams (WFW) has successfully obtained a committal order and warrant for the arrest of Mr. Avaz Nazarov on behalf of Vis Trading Co (Vis Trading).

In 2013 WFW successfully represented Vis Trading in its claim against Mr. Nazarov and others in a claim for US$35 million which concerned the non-payment of a series of loans and issues relating to loss of security.  Following an unsuccessful appeal by the second defendants (Mr. Nazarov’s company, Ansol Limited), WFW has reportedly been engaged in seeking disclosure in relation to Mr. Nazarov’s assets to aid enforcement of the judgment on behalf of Vis Trading in a number of jurisdictions around the world.  After Mr. Nazarov failed to comply with an English court orders requiring him to disclose information about his assets, Vis Trading sought his committal for contempt of court.

In a judgment handed down by High Court Judge Mrs. Justice Whipple at the end of 2015, Mr. Nazarov was found to have been in contempt of court for serious past and continuing breach of the disclosure order.

Following a two day sentencing hearing (during which Mr. Nazarov was cross examined by video link from Uzbekistan), Mrs. Justice Whipple on February 23, 2016 handed down a further judgment reiterating her earlier findings of contempt and sentencing Mr. Nazarov to 21 months imprisonment.

Although Mr. Nazarov is not currently within the jurisdiction, Mrs. Justice Whipple nevertheless rejected arguments that the imposition of a sentence would be futile, holding that the court could not just stand by in the face of disobedience to its orders and that, despite some modest attempts to comply, Mr. Nazarov remains in serious and continuing breach, according to WFW.

Avaz Nazarov is owner of Ansol Limited, the company which was the main supplier of the Tajik aluminum smelter for eight years.  Between the late 1990s and the early 2000s, Nazarov had provided raw materials and financing to the Tajik aluminum plant in exchange for finished aluminum.