Daughter of former Uzbek president indicted on corruption charges

The indicted Gulnara Karimova, pictured in Tashkent in 2013
The indicted Gulnara Karimova, pictured in Tashkent in 2013 Copyright Yves Forestier/Getty Images
By Saskia O'Donoghue with AFP
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The daughter of the late President Islam Karmiov, Gulnara Karimova, is already behind bars in Uzebekistan for charges relating to allegations of money laundering, fraud, and violating the terms of her house arrest.


Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of former Uzbek President Islam Karimov, has been indicted by the Swiss prosecutor general in a corruption case.

She is being prosecuted alongside the former director of the Uzbek subsidiary of a Russian telecommunications company, Swiss authorities have stated.

According to the Swiss Public Prosecutor’s Office of the Confederation (MPC), "The alleged acts extend over a period from 2005 to 2013 and would constitute participation in a criminal organisation, money laundering, passive corruption of foreign public officials and forgery of securities."

The MPC says the indictment was filed with the Federal Criminal Court and that Karimova, daughter of the late, former Uzbek President Islam Karimov had developed and directed a hierarchical criminal organisation, colloquially referred to as "The Office".

Authorities say it operated from at least 2001 until 2013, with several dozen people and a multitude of companies involved.

It is alleged in the prosecution case that foreign companies wishing to enter and operate in the Uzbek telecommunications sector were made to pay bribes to these "Office" companies in order to find favour with Karimova.

The organisation is said to have begun to undertake its activities in Switzerland in 2005, allegedly hiding the proceeds of its criminal activities in banks and safes and sinking it into real estate investments.

Prosecutors say that the beneficial owners of these banking relationships were merely so-called "straw men" used to conceal the fact that Karimova was the real beneficiary.

The resulting assets - uncovered out by Swiss investigators - are said to be worth an equivalent of approximately 780 million Swiss francs (or €806 million).

The MPC accuses Karimova of having played the role of “ultimate head of ‘The Office’”. Her co-defendant has yet to be named.

The Swiss Attorney General says they have been investigating this case since 2012.

In July of that year, the organisation opened a criminal investigation into Karimova's personal assistant. Between 2012 and 2014, the investigation was further extended to include Karimova herself – once immunity linked to her activity as a diplomat at the United Nations in Geneva was lifted – and to several of her subordinates.

This incident is not the first time Gulnara Karimova has been in significant trouble with the law.

In 2020, she was sentenced in the former Soviet republic to just over 13 years in prison for extortion and embezzlement – this while already in jail for fraud, money laundering and allegedly violating the terms of her house arrest.

Islam Karimov infamously ruled Uzbekistan with an iron fist, with his reign remaining largely inspired by Soviet centralist authoritarianism before his death in 2016.

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