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Astana Qazaqstan's license holder under judicial investigation in Luxembourg

LAGOS PORTUGAL FEBRUARY 16 Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski of United States and Team Astana Qazaqstan injurys after crossing the line the 48th Volta Ao Algarve 2021 Stage 1 a 1991km at stage from Portimo to Lagos VAlgarve2022 on February 16 2022 in Lagos Portugal Photo by Luc ClaessenGetty Images
Astana Qazaqstan (Image credit: Luc Claessen/Getty Images)

Astana Qazaqstan's troubles are continuing after news emerged that the public prosecutor's office in Luxembourg has opened a judicial investigation into the Luxembourg-based Abacanto SA, the paying agent and license holder behind the WorldTour team.

Last year saw the team fire and then bring back team boss Alexandre Vinokourov amid a power struggle with co-sponsor Premier Tech, while 2022 started with reports of the team failing to pay wages for January and February on time. The news is the latest revelation in what has been a turbulent time for the team.

A report filed by Kazakhstan newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda (opens in new tab) confirmed that a civil case against Abacanto SA was opened back in January 2021, filed against 'unidentified persons' at the company. Abacanto SA is being charged with violations under article 140 of the local criminal code, which includes: 'the forgery of documents, misuse of corporate assets, breach of trust, money laundering, and fraud'.

Abacanto SA is currently based in Howald, Luxembourg, and has been the paying agent and license holder behind Astana Qazaqstan since 2010.

According to the Komsomolskaya Pravda report, Vinokourov is among those named in the ongoing case – 'This is unequivocally documented in the ruling' – while last January the Luxembourg office of Abacanto SA was raided and documents belonging to the team were seized.

The Luxembourg district court is currently hearing several witnesses in relation to the case.

A statement issued by the Luxembourg Judicial Administration spokesperson Henri Eippers confirmed that a judicial investigation into Abacanto SA following a civil complaint.

"The public prosecutor's office in Luxembourg confirms that a judicial investigation has been opened following a complaint with civil action lodged for facts that were allegedly committed within the framework of the Luxembourg company Abacanto SA and are likely to constitute offences," he said.

"In view of the ongoing investigation, the public prosecutor's office does not intend to provide any further information on this case."

Cyclingnews has asked Astana Qazaqstan for comments on the report. The team's response was that they wouldn't be commenting and that they have no information about the case.

Should criminal charges eventually be brought against any individuals currently being investigated, then there is the possibility of jail time, according to Luxembourg law concerning the stated offences.

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Daniel Ostanek is production editor at Cyclingnews, having joined in 2017 as a freelance contributor and later being hired as staff writer. Before Cyclingnews, he was published in numerous publications around the cycling world, including Procycling, CyclingWeekly, CyclingTips, Cyclist, and Rouleur, among others. As well as reporting and writing news and features, Daniel runs the 'How to watch' content throughout the season.

Daniel has reported from the world's top races, including the Tour de France, and has interviewed a number of the sport's biggest stars, including Egan Bernal, Wout van Aert, Remco Evenepoel, Mark Cavendish, and Anna van der Breggen. Daniel rides a 2002 Landbouwkrediet Colnago C40 and his favourite races are Strade Bianche and the Vuelta a España.