Switzerland and Uzbekistan have reached an agreement on returning more than $130 million to Tashkent that was seized in connection with criminal proceedings against Gulnara Karimova, the oldest daughter of late President Islam Karimov.
RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service, Sep 14, 2020,
The Swiss government said on September 11 that, according to the nonbinding framework agreement, any returned assets “shall be used for the benefit of the people of Uzbekistan.”
Transparency and the creation of a monitoring mechanism are among the requirements for the restitution to take place, the statement said.
Switzerland froze around 800 million Swiss francs ($880 million) in 2012 in connection with criminal proceedings against Karimova, of which almost $131 million was confiscated in 2019.
The remaining funds remain frozen, and the statement stressed that the framework agreement would cover any more assets definitively confiscated in the still-ongoing criminal case.
Earlier in May, Uzbek government officials said Tashkent received from France assets worth $10 million illegally acquired by Karimova.
Tashkent has sought over $1 billion from foreign jurisdictions since announcing Karimova’s imprisonment in 2017.
Karimova, once seen as a possible successor to Karimov, was placed under house arrest in Tashkent in 2014 while her father was still alive and running the country. Karimov died in 2016 and Shavkat Mirziyoev became his successor soon afterward.
Criminal investigations in Switzerland, the United States, Sweden, and the Netherlands have linked Karimova to a massive, years-long bribery scheme that revolved mainly around foreign telecommunications companies gaining access to the lucrative Uzbek market.
In December 2017, Karimova was sentenced to a 10-year prison term, but the sentence was later reclassified to house arrest and shortened to five years. She was placed in jail in March 2019 for allegedly violating the terms of her house arrest.
In February, she sent a letter to Mirziyoev offering to return $686 million to the country’s treasury in exchange for the dismissal of the court case against her at home.
But a month later, she received an additional 13 years and four months in prison after being found guilty of extortion, money laundering, and other crimes.
With reporting by AP and AFP