Kazakhstan's uranium boss ill in detention: wife

Kazakhstan's most prominent uranium industry figure, whose arrest has alarmed foreign investors in Central Asia's biggest economy, is in poor health and requires urgent medical attention, his wife said on Friday, Reuters reported.

Mukhtar Dzhakishev, ex-head of state company Kazatomprom, is accused of illegally gaining control over uranium deposits in Kazakhstan, home to a fifth of global uranium reserves. He was arrested in May but has denied any wrongdoing.

Addressing reporters after meeting her husband in a detention center, Jamilya Dzhakisheva said he had lost a lot of weight since she last saw him before the arrest.

"His health is poor," she told reporters after the meeting in the capital Astana. "I will ask for him to be examined and hospitalized because he complains of headaches."

The KNB security service, which runs the case and keeps him in detention, said Dzhakishev's health was being checked daily.

"He himself has not said that (he is in poor health)," a KNB spokesman said.

The case has alarmed foreign investors as well as human rights groups who have questioned Kazakhstan's methods of fighting corruption in a country run with an iron fist for 20 years by President Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Before his arrest, Dzhakishev was widely praised as a manager who presided over Kazatomprom's rise as a major global uranium player in past years. Kazatomprom is now on track to take over as the world's biggest uranium producer this year.

His arrest left Kazatomprom's foreign partners such as Canada's UraniumOne worried about the future of their projects.

The case, unfolding against the backdrop of a deepening economic crisis, has also highlighted deep-running divisions among the ruling class in a country where Nazarbayev, 69, has no clear successor.

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