Gulnara Karimova is known in Uzbekistan for various activities. She appeared in pop videos, ran a jewelry company and was an ambassador to Spain. She is also the daughter of Islam Karimov, who was the dictator in the country for almost 30 years. In addition, Karimova is known to the authorities of various countries. Because she has built up a global real estate empire through bribery and corruption.
According to a report by the international human rights organization "Freedom For Eurasia", she is said to have spent 240 million dollars on it, as the BBC reports. Karimova is said to have used British money laundering companies to buy houses in the UK, Switzerland, France, Dubai and Hong Kong, among others. She also bought a private jet.
The ease with which Karimova acquired British possessions was "worrying," it said. In fact, the authorities in Great Britain have long been accused of not taking sufficient action against money laundering by foreign nationals. There is no indication that the people who worked for Karimova's affiliated companies knew of any connection to her or that the source of the money could be suspicious.
It has long been speculated that she would succeed her father, who was President of Uzbekistan until his death in 2016. But in 2014 she was suddenly no longer seen in public. That was because, as it later turned out, she had been arrested on corruption charges. She was convicted in late 2017 and eventually went to jail in 2019 after violating her house arrest.
The prosecutor's allegation: Karimova belongs to a criminal group that controls assets of more than one billion dollars in Great Britain, Russia, the United Arab Emirates and nine other countries. "The Karimova case is one of the biggest bribery and corruption cases of all time," the BBC quoted Tom Mayne, co-author of the report and a research fellow at Oxford University.
Although Karimova and her partners had already resold some of the properties allegedly bought through corruption, Freedom For Eurasia has identified at least 14 suspect properties that are said to have been bought before her arrest.
The report published on Tuesday deals specifically with five properties in London and its surroundings with an estimated total value of around 60 million dollars. In addition, it is about companies in England's capital and on the British Virgin Islands, with which Karimova and her accomplices are said to have laundered money in the hundreds of millions.
Official documents named Karimova's friend, Rustam Madumarov, as one of the "beneficial owners". For example, in 2010 a private jet was to be purchased under Madumarov's name for around $40 million. In fact, according to the report, he and other people were only authorized representatives for Karimova.
Madumarov's fortune was said to come in part from an Uzbekistan-based cell phone company called Uzdonrobita. In 2004, The Moscow Times reported that Karimova siphoned about $20 million from Uzdunrobita with the help of fraudulent bills. A former adviser also accused Karimova of "ripoff".
Tom Mayne of Freedom For Eurasia said of the situation in the UK: "It took until 2017 for the authorities to do anything, years after other countries had already frozen bank accounts and property she owned." According to "Forbes", Karimova's illegally earned assets are said to have reached almost the billion mark. The confiscated assets in Luxembourg, Belgium, Switzerland and offshore tax havens were around 1.5 billion dollars.
Karimova's illegal activities could have further consequences. A ten-year prison sentence is still pending, which she may still have to serve.
Sources: BBC, Forbes