Expatica news

Swiss eye return of $131 mn seized from Uzbek celeb

Switzerland announced Friday a plan to restitute over $130 million to Uzbekistan that was seized in connection with criminal proceedings against the daughter of late ruler Islam Karimov.

A Swiss government statement said it had reached a legally non-binding framework agreement with Uzbekistan “with a view to the restitution of illicitly acquired assets confiscated in Switzerland.

“The agreement sets out the principles and stages for the restitution,” it said, emphasising that 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, it said.

Switzerland froze around 800 million Swiss francs ($880 million, 743 million euros) in 2012 in connection with criminal proceedings against Gulnara Karimova.

Approximately $131 million of that was definitively confiscated last year, Bern explained.

The remaining 650 million Swiss francs remain frozen, and the statement stressed that the framework agreement would cover any more assets definitively confiscated in the still ongoing criminal case.

The two countries are to begin talks on specifics of restitution “in the near future,” Bern said.

As “first daughter,” Karimova was among the power elite in the former Soviet republic, serving in diplomatic posts, including in Geneva, and was tipped as a potential successor to Karimov.

She organised a fashion week, had her own jewellery line and released pop singles in addition to running entertainment TV channels.

But several years before her father’s death in 2016, she suddenly fell from favour and feuded publicly with her mother and sister before being placed under house arrest.

In 2017, Karimova was sentenced to 10 years in prison for fraud and extortion, which was later commuted to five years under house arrest.

In March she was handed a fresh prison sentence of more than 13 years backdated to 2015, which meant she could be behind bars until 2028.

Islam Karimov’s successor, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, has launched economic and political reforms but has maintained Uzbekistan’s authoritarian system.