Opening corporate bank accounts in Kazakhstan

Banks in Kazakhstan have recently tightened their Anti-Money Laundering (AML) processes considerably as a result of the turbulence in the regional economic environment.

A significant number of businesses from Russia are relocating to Kazakhstan, along with other foreign companies that have done business or trade with Russian companies. Some of them are opening offices in Kazakhstan for purposes of dealing with complications in their trade and money flows. For many, the sanctions placed on Russia do not directly affect their business, but the inavailability of local logistics solutions and overcompliance of European banks mean that operating via a country such as Kazakhstan is one potential solution.

Kazakhstani authorities have declared that they are not going to allow circumventing any sanctions placed on Russia. This is the case also in practice, and as a result the tax authorities and banks are vigilant about vetting any new businesses that trade with Russia and wish to open bank accounts in Kazakhstan.

With banks, in practice this means requirements for documentation when opening bank accounts are now more strict. Companies wishing to open bank accounts in Kazakhstan will need to completely disclose their ownership structure. They will also need to provide supporting documentation, such as apostilled passport copies of all their Ultimate Beneficiary Owners (UBOs). This requirement can be very heavy to comply with in cases where companies have a large number of UBOs. For example 50 UBOs means 50 apostilled passport copies that need to be provided to the bank when opening accounts.

In our experience it is very important to be physically present when opening company bank accounts, in fact doing it remotely will most likely prove impossible. We recommend to ask your accounting firm for advice about which banks to work with. Some are much more technologically advanced and user-friendly than others. Make sure to take your accountant with you when going to open company bank accounts. In case you need additional advice, feel free to contact us.

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