Jailed daughter of late Uzbek leader returns $1 billion to state

Published June 25, 2019
Gulnara Karimova. — Dawn/File
Gulnara Karimova. — Dawn/File

TASHKENT: The jailed daughter of Uzbekistan’s former leader has begged his successor to release her after claiming she gave more than one billion dollars to the state, while an anti-fraud ruling in her former home of Switzerland deepened her troubles.

Gulnara Karimova, the 46-year-old daughter of the late strongman Islam Karimov, was sentenced to a decade behind bars by an Uzbek court in 2017 on fraud and money-laundering charges. In a statement via Instagram on Sunday she stopped short of acknowledging guilt but apologised to the people of the Central Asian nation for “disappointment that I might have brought”.

The former diplomat and popstar said she had given more than $1.2 billion (one billion euros) of her “personal assets” to the state “in the interest of the republic’s budget”.

The Russian-language story shared on her daughter Iman Karimova’s Instagram page also said Karimova and her legal team had relinquished claims to $686 million kept in foreign banks.

“It’s authentic,” Karimova’s Swiss lawyer Gregoire Mangeat told this news agency of the Instagram post on Monday, while declining to comment on its contents. Karimova’s apparent appeal came on the eve of an announcement by the Swiss attorney general on Monday that Switzerland had sent 130 million Swiss francs ($133 million) to Uzbekistan formerly held in bank accounts in the European country.

The move follows a first conviction in an anti-corruption investigation in Switzerland in which Karimova is believed to have been a central figure.

The Swiss attorney general said the return of funds followed a Swiss court’s conviction of an unnamed “relative of Gulnara Karimova”.

The male relative was accused of moving money around bank accounts “to prevent the origin and actual destination of the funds from being identified,” the attorney general said in a statement.

Published in Dawn, June 25th, 2019

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