Strange case of Dariga Nazarbayeva, mystery owner of Sherlock Holmes’s Baker Street address
10 Nov 2020

Who owned 221b Baker Street, the London property that served as Sherlock Holmes’s fictional home, has been a mystery worthy of an Arthur Conan Doyle novel. For five years there has been speculation about the identity f the flat’s proprietor.

The Times can now reveal that the building — along with £140 million of other property and land between 215 and 237 Baker Street — was owned by the daughter of the former president of Kazakhstan and her son.

Leaked legal correspondence relating to the ownership structure of the properties, seen by the investigative news site SourceMaterial and this newspaper, show that they were owned by Dariga Nazarbayeva, 57, and her son Nurali Aliyev, 35, in 2015. They are the daughter and grandson of Nursultan Nazarbayev, who ruled Kazakhstan for 29 years until last year and still holds the title of “leader of the nation”.

Mr Nazarbayev also chairs the country’s national security council. Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana, has been renamed Nur-Sultan in honour of Mr Nazarbayev.

An opera singer, former Kazakh deputy prime minister and senator, Ms Nazarbayeva had been tipped as a potential replacement for her father as president, though she was dismissed as head of the senate this year. Forbes Kazakhstan estimated her wealth at $600 million in 2013. Her son, a businessman whose most recent London residence was a house on Hampstead’s “billionaires row”, was appointed head of a major Kazakh sugar producer at the age of 19 and has served as head of one of Kazakhstan’s biggest banks. He was worth an estimated $200 million in 2012.

About 87,000 properties in England and Wales are owned by companies in offshore jurisdictions according to pro-transparency non-government organisation Global Witness. It can often be impossible to find out who actually owns them.

Next year the government is expected to introduce laws that will require all such companies to reveal the names of their “beneficial owners” — the people who really own them.

In 2015 an investigation by Global Witness, the campaign group, claimed the Baker Street properties had been owned by associates of Ms Nazarbayeva’s ex-husband, Rakhat Aliyev, a Kazakh power broker in the 1990s and 2000s who fell out of favour and was charged with treason, embezzlement, corruption and murder. He killed himself in an Austrian prison in 2015. There is no suggestion that Ms Nazarbayeva or his son were involved in or had any knowledge of this activity.

The leaked emails, which had requested information about who the ultimate owner of the Baker Street properties were, show they were 90 per cent owned by Ms Nazarbayeva and 10 per cent by Nurali Aliyev. The properties are still owned by Farmont Baker Street Limited, according to Land Registry records, and were bought by the company for £140 million in 2005. Farmont Baker Street is now owned by a company in the United Arab Emirates.

The law firm Mishcon de Reya, which represents the family, did not respond to a request for comment as to whether Ms Nazarbayeva or her son still ultimately owned the properties and if not, when she sold them.

By George Greenwood, Emanuele Midolo, Marcus Leroux and Leigh Baldwin, The Times, 10 November 2020

Read more at The Times

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