Switzerland and Uzbekistan have signed an agreement on the restitution of $131 million (CHF125 million) confiscated during criminal proceedings involving Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of the former Uzbek president.
The assets will be used for the benefit of the population of Uzbekistan via a UN trust fund, the foreign ministry said in a statementExternal link on Tuesday.
The agreement, signed in Bern on Tuesday by Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis and Uzbek Justice Minister Ruslanbek Davletov, “will shape and strengthen relations between our two countries in the long term”, Cassis said.
“Switzerland and the Uzbek authorities have cooperated constructively with the UN to set up an innovative and transparent fund that will make a very real contribution to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Uzbekistan,” he added. “The fund will allow the returned assets to be used for the benefit of the population of Uzbekistan.”
The fund will not just be used for the $131 million (CHF125 million) currently available, but also for any assets definitively confiscated in future in the ongoing criminal proceedings in connection with Gulnara Karimova.
Karimova is suspected of receiving large sums from foreign telecommunications companies in connection with contracts in Uzbekistan, but denies wrongdoing.
Islam Karimov ruled Uzbekistan for 27 years until his death in 2016. His daughter was once a successful businesswoman and her country’s UN representative in Geneva. She was jailed back in Uzbekistan in 2019 for violating the terms of her house arrest after receiving a five-year sentence in 2015 on charges of embezzlement and extortion.
Switzerland, a popular residence for the global elite, says it has returned approximately $2 billion of stolen assets to their countries of origin over the past 30 years.
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