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Uzbekistan, Switzerland Reach Agreement On Returning Funds Seized From Karimova

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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.

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

RL/ RFE

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