November 21 2019
“I’m Aierken Saimaiti,” the man said. “Between 2011 and 2016, I transferred more than $700 million out of Kyrgyzstan.”
Just a few months after this conversation with a journalist, Saimaiti was murdered.
But before his death, he gave reporters documents that revealed the massive and systemic plunder of public funds from one of the poorest countries on earth.
A joint team from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, OCCRP, and its Kyrgyz member center, Kloop, spent months poring over Saimaiti’s documents, following his leads, and reporting on the ground to corroborate as much as possible. Together, this evidence tells the story of how a vast underground cargo empire run by the Abdukadyrs, a secretive Uighur clan, systematically funneled massive bribes to Kyrgyzstan’s customs service.