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Switzerland agrees to return seized assets to Uzbekistan

AFP
AFP - [email protected]
Switzerland agrees to return seized assets to Uzbekistan
(Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash)

Switzerland agreed on Tuesday to return to Uzbekistan millions in assets that were seized as part of criminal proceedings against the daughter of late Uzbek ruler Islam Karimov.

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Under the terms of the agreement -- signed in Bern by Swiss President Ignazio Cassis and Uzbek Minister of Justice Ruslanbek Davletov -- a total USD 131 million in confiscated assets will be used to set up a UN fund for sustainable development in the former Soviet republic.

"The fund will allow the returned assets to be used for the benefit of the population of Uzbekistan," Cassis said during the signing ceremony. 

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Switzerland froze around CHF 800 million (USD 842 million) in 2012 in connection with criminal proceedings against Gulnara Karimova, the late Uzbek ruler's eldest daughter, who is currently in jail on embezzlement and criminal conspiracy charges.

Approximately USD 131 million of that was definitively confiscated in 2019, and more could follow.

Bern insisted that the fund would not only be used for the amount currently seized, "but also for any assets definitively confiscated in the future in the ongoing criminal proceedings in connection with Gulnara Karimova."

BACKGROUND: Uzbek leader’s daughter faces criminal probe

As "first daughter," Karimova was among Uzbekistan's powerful elite, serving in diplomatic posts, including in Geneva, and tipped as a potential successor to Karimov.

She organised a fashion week, had her own jewellery line, released pop singles and ran entertainment TV channels.

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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.

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