Switzerland agrees terms for returning seized Uzbek funds

International

BERLIN (AP) — Switzerland said Friday it has agreed in principle with Uzbekistan on the terms under which money seized as part of a money-laundering investigation against the eldest daughter of former Uzbek President Islam Karimov will be returned to the Central Asian nation.

The “framework agreement” signed by the two countries will see assets worth around $131 million, seized from Swiss accounts belonging to Gulnara Karimova in 2012, returned to Uzbekistan.

The deal, which still needs to be formalized before it is legally binding, will require Uzbekistan to use the assets “to improve the living conditions of the people of Uzbekistan,” invest the funds in sustainable projects and ensure transparent monitoring, the Swiss government said.

A further 650 million Swiss francs ($715 million) seized from Karimova remains frozen as part of the ongoing criminal proceedings against Karimova. Should those funds be released, they would be subject to the same conditions of restitution, the Swiss government said.

Karimova is suspected of receiving large sums from foreign telecommunications companies in connection with contracts in Uzbekistan.

She was placed under house arrest in Uzbekistan in 2014. Her current whereabouts are unknown.

Islam Karimov was Uzbekistan’s president from 1991 until his death in 2016.

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