Karimova had been serving a five-year sentence in house arrest stemming from a 2017 conviction (originally for 10 years) for embezzlement and extortion. She was taken from her daughter Iman’s Tashkent apartment to a prison in March 2019. The authorities claimed she had violated the terms of her house arrest. A few days later, the U.S. Department of Justice announced the unsealing of charges against Karimova and Bekhzod Akhmedov. Akhmedov is the former CEO of an Uzbek subsidiary of MTS, a Russian telecom that agreed to pay a 0 million resolution in relation to the bribery of Uzbek officials.
Karimova and Akhmedov, the DOJ said, were being sought “for their participation in a bribery and money laundering scheme involving more than 5 million in bribes from MTS, VimpelCom Limited (now VEON) and Telia Company AB (Telia) to the former Uzbek official in order to secure her assistance in entering and maintaining their business operations in Uzbekistan’s telecommunications market.”
We, Uzbek civil society activists, are greatly concerned by Karimova’s alleged insight into the status and nature of on-going negotiations. Whilst we welcome the recent updates from Swiss authorities – a positive step towards meeting the GFAR principles – we urge the Swiss government to:
uphold its commitments in observing these principles, particularly relating to full transparency of the asset return process;
ensure safeguards that prevent these assets from being stolen again;
involve independent civil society in the monitoring and disbursement of assets.
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