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Wealthy New York heir at center of heated custody war

A Manhattan Supreme Court will decide whether the brother of the president of Kazakhstan has a legitimate reason to want custody of his son. The wealthy and well-connected copper and oil baron fears his former wife will try to flee with the couple's 10-year-old son.

The child custody case extends beyond the boundaries of the parents' relationship into international intrigue. The multimillionaire claims his ex-spouse, and the woman's son from a previous marriage, conspired to steal the former husband's $20 million New York City apartment.

The boy's father also alleges his former wife is an Interpol fugitive wanted for extortion and kidnapping charges in Kazakhstan.

The father called for an emergency custody hearing for fear his ex-spouse or someone under her control would take off with the boy.

There are two versions of the boy's whereabouts. The father believes the boy was left in the luxurious New York apartment with a babysitter, while the child's mother vacationed in France and Dubai. The former husband says his ex was arrested in Dubai, which his ex-wife's supporters denied.

The wife's reported tale denies that she is an international fugitive and contends that the woman is not divorced, but still comfortably married to her accuser. The boy apparently was sent to Malaysia to be with his half-brother, charged by his stepfather with the title theft of the Plaza apartment. The half-brother is reportedly betrothed to the daughter of the Malaysian prime minister.

Is the father's worry about possible child abduction a dramatic play for power or a real possibility? Who is the alleged person under the mother's control that might assist in absconding with the child?

What purpose would be served by the boy's mother saying that she was still married to the Kazakh leader's brother? Was the luxury apartment part of a legal separation or divorce settlement? Is the mother a wanted criminal or the object of a smear campaign instigated by her husband's political influence?

The swirl of accusations and lawsuits within the family, and the effects of the internal tug-of-war upon the child in question, will concern the New York court. The parents' battle over external issues may have to be resolved before a judge can decide whether either parent is concerned about the best interests of the 10-year-old boy.

Source: nypost.com, "'Plaza pamper' scion involved in ugly Kazakh custody war," Larry Celona and Dareh Gregorian, July 9, 2012

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