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Uzbekistan to receive €110 million from Switzerland in long-running criminal investigation

By Dan Byrne

Switzerland is to release around €110 million to Uzbekistan as part of criminal proceedings, ongoing for eight years.

Swissinfo reports that the funds were confiscated from Gulnara Karimova, the eldest daughter of late Uzbekistani President Islam Karimov, in 2019.

They were part of a larger pool of over €740 million in cash which was frozen by the Swiss government in 2012, in connection with a money laundering investigation involving Karimova.

Investigations in several nations including Switzerland, the US and the Netherlands have linked her to a bribery scheme which involved foreign companies accessing the Uzbek telecommunications market.

Originally apprehended in 2014, Karimova was sentenced to five years’ house arrest in 2017 but was transferred to prison soon afterwards for alleged violations of the terms of that house arrest.

Subsequently, she received a further 13 years and four months’ prison sentence following new convictions including extortion and money laundering.

Having agreed to transfer €110 million of Karimova’s assets in principle, a statement from the Swiss government says this framework agreement must be approved by a legally binding international agreement – set to be made in the near future.

The statement noted that the funds are to be used to, “improve the living conditions of the people of Uzbekistan,” and that they should be invested in “projects which support sustainable development.”

A transparent and accountable mechanism to accurately monitor the use of the funds is also part of this framework agreement.

The portion of Karimova’s assets which haven’t been confiscated amount to approximately €630 million. The Swiss government have advised that any further confiscations will be subject to the same legal framework as the initial sum.

Reuters reported that Karimova herself – once a businesswoman and pop singer – asked the current Uzbekistani President Shavkat Mirziyoyev for her release in exchange for her help in arranging for the confiscation of the remaining funds.

For the moment, they remain frozen by the Swiss government while investigations continue.  

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