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Switzerland launches probe of Uzbek first daughter

Gulnara Karimova, courtesy of YouTubeProsecutors in Switzerland have opened a money-laundering investigation into Gulnara Karimova, the eldest daughter of the president of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov.

The investigation initially focused on four people linked to her, but prosecutors said Wednesday that Karimova is now part of the inquiry, the Guardian reported.

Karimova’s diplomatic immunity ended in July when she was removed from her position as Uzbekistan’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva.

Investigators are looking at her dealings with Stockholm-based TeliaSonera AB. The telecom, partly owned by the Swedish government, was accused of paying an intermediary Takilant Ltd. 00 $300 million for 3G phone rights in Uzbekistan. Takilant has been tied to President Karimov.

In December 2013, Swedish prosecutors brought an “aggravated bribery” case against several TeliaSonera employees. 

Another telecom company, Amsterdam-based VimpelCom Ltd., also faces a criminal investigation over its Uzbek business and alleged ties to Takilant.

VimpelCom’s headquarters were raided Tuesday by Dutch prosecutors, Bloomberg reported.

A report by RFE/RL two years ago said documents showed “TeliaSonera being asked to pay hefty bribes in exchange for protection from government agencies and an infusion of new clients.”

Some documents appeared to show Karimova “personally dictating the terms of the negotiations through a series of scribbles, complaints, and queries handwritten on the documents,” the report said.

In December, a group of exiled Uzbek dissidents broke into her luxury home on the shores of Lake Geneva. They published images of art found in the house allegedly taken from the Uzbek national museum.

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Julie DiMauro is the executive editor of FCPA Blog and can be reached here.

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