TASHKENT — Uzbek officials aiming to seize more than $1.5 billion in foreign assets held by Gulnara Karimova, the eldest daughter of the late President Islam Karimov who has been jailed in a Tashkent prison since March 2019, say they have begun searching a mansion she owns in Switzerland.
According to a January 11 statement, the Uzbek Prosecutor-General’s Office, along with authorities from Switzerland, France, Russia, Latvia, and other countries, is working on bringing back “70 art items that had been discovered and impounded in the villa of G. Karimova in the city of Geneva.”
In December 2013, a group of exiled Uzbek dissidents broke into Karimova’s villa on the shores of Lake Geneva and published images of items allegedly taken from the Uzbek national museum.
Works of art, gold and silver trinkets, jewelry, and an 18th-century, jewel-encrusted Koran were among the items the group filmed in the villa, which Karimova purchased in 2009 for 18 million Swiss francs ($20 million).
Uzbek authorities said later that overall some 985 artifacts worth 12.7 billion soms (about $33.5 million) may be located in houses belonging to Karimova in various countries.
The statement by the Prosecutor-General’s Office came three days after Karimova’s new corruption trial started in Tashkent.
She is accused of illegally buying state-owned shares of two cement plants that she later sold to foreign businessmen.
The 47-year-old was jailed in March 2019 for allegedly violating the terms of her house arrest after receiving a five-year sentence in 2015 on charges of embezzlement and extortion.
Once a socialite, businesswoman, and a pop singer, Karimova disappeared from public view after falling out with her father in 2014 while he was still the country’s authoritarian leader.
Islam Karimov ran Central Asia’s most populous country from 1989 until his death in 2016.