Uzbek ex-leader’s daughter offers money for freedom

On February 25, Gulnara Karimova, the eldest daughter of Uzbekistan’s late president, asked incumbent leader Shavkat Mirziyoyev to release her from prison in exchange for her assets.

Karimova’s appeal was posted on the Instagram account of her daughter Iman who lives in London. In her letter, Karimova complains of being transferred from one prison to another, as well as of ‘numerous violations of the Constitution and the Criminal Code’ during the investigation into her case. She claims that the seizure of her family’s property worth of $ 1.2 bn has not been credited as compensation for financial damage suffered by the state.

‘For the sake of preserving her family and health’, Karimova said he would give up any claims to assets held in foreign banks, including those in Switzerland, on condition that the ‘simplified procedure’ of closing the cases was adopted, i.e. no public trial will be held. She promised to hand over $686 mln to the state and suggested these funds should be allocated for medical and education projects.

According to 47-year-old Karimova, she needs to have a number of operations due to ill health. By the moment, she has stood at least five trials, the prisoner says. The defense lawyers do not reportedly know how many cases were initiated against her.

Phot. Shamil Zhumatov / Reuters / Forum

In 2015, Islam Karimov’s eldest daughter was found guilty of extortion and tax evasion and sentenced to house arrest. Two year later, after the death of his father, the court considered another criminal case initiated against her; as a result, Gulnara Karimova got 10-year jail term.

In the Uzbek investigators’ view, Karimova took bribes totalling to $1 bn from big companies (MTS, Vympelcom”, ING, Telia Sonera) in return for granting mobile service provider licenses to them. The prosecutors’ theory is that the woman was a member of a criminal group that hid about $1.4 bn, €63.5 mln, more than £27 mln abroad. In particular, the group’s money and property are located in the UK, France, Germany, Switzerland, Russia and Latvia. Uzbekistan’s Prosecutor Office contacted the authorities of these countries with a request to seize the assets.