Switzerland blocks millions in Uzbek probe

Switzerland has blocked bank accounts containing several hundreds of millions of dollars in a money-laundering probe involving Uzbek nationals, the attorney general's office said Wednesday.

"The attorney general has frozen several hundreds of millions of francs (dollars) in different Swiss bank accounts as part of this investigation," said Jeannette Balmer, a spokeswoman for the office known as the MPC.

Individuals close to Uzbek President Islam Karimov are at the centre of the probe, Radio Television Suisse (RTS) reported.

Four Uzbek nationals are accused of involvement in money-laundering, according to the MPC, which said two were arrested in Geneva on July 30th and remain in custody.

Swiss daily Blick reported that both work for Coca-Cola Uzbekistan, which is owned by the president's daughter Gulnara Karimova, also the country's ambassador to Spain and the United Nations in Geneva.

According to RTS, one of the two people being sought is a former employee of Uzdunrobita, the Uzbek subsidiary of Russian telecoms operator MTS.

Swedish telecoms firm TeliaSonera is also cited in the probe which involves contracts dating back to 2007 worth hundreds of millions of dollars, providing access to Uzbekistan's telecoms market, RTS reported.

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