Switzerland to return frozen Uzbekistan assets in money laundering probe and more

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A view shows a villa that once belonged to Gulnara Karimova, an imprisoned daughter of Uzbekistan’s late President Islam Karimov, in Sijjak, Uzbekistan April 16, 2021. Uzbekistan’s government is auctioning the luxury villa on condition that it be transformed into a hotel. REUTERS/Mukhammadsharif Mamatkulov

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GENEVA, Aug 16 (Reuters) – Switzerland on Tuesday agreed to return to Uzbekistan more than $100 million seized during a lengthy investigation into the daughter of former president Islam Karimov.

Ongoing criminal proceedings against Gulnara Karimova in Switzerland, which involve suspected money laundering through telecommunications contracts, have so far resulted in the seizure of $131 million. The Swiss Foreign Ministry said more funds may become available from assets that could be confiscated in the future.

The agreement signed in Bern between Swiss President Ignazio Cassis and Uzbek Justice Minister Ruslanbek Davletov will establish a trust fund and use the money for sustainable development projects in the Central Asian country.

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“The fund will allow returned assets to be used for the benefit of the Uzbek population,” Cassis said.

Islam Karimov ruled Uzbekistan for 27 years until his death in 2016. His daughter Karimova was once a successful businesswoman and her country’s representative to the United Nations in Geneva. She was imprisoned in Uzbekistan in 2019 for violating the terms of her house arrest after being sentenced to five years in prison in 2015 for embezzlement and extortion.

She denied any wrongdoing.

Switzerland, a popular residence for the global elite, claims to have returned around $2 billion in stolen assets to their country of origin over the past 30 years.

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Reporting by Emma Farge
Editing by Tomasz Janowski

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Switzerland returns frozen Uzbekistan assets in money laundering investigation

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