Gulnara Karimova: how the daughter of Uzbekistan’s president constructed a £200m belongings empire

  • through Andy Verity
  • BBC economics correspondent

symbol Supply, Getty Photographs/Freedom for Eurasia

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Gulnara Karimova and a few of her portfolio in London

The daughter of a dictator who moonlighted as a pop famous person and diplomat spent $240 million (£200 million) on houses from London to Hong Kong, a file has discovered.

The Freedom for Eurasia find out about states that Gulnara Karimova used UK corporations to shop for a area and a jet with cash received thru bribery and corruption.

It stated accounting companies in London and the British Virgin Islands acted for UK corporations concerned within the offers.

The tale raises contemporary doubts about Britain’s efforts to take on unlawful cash.

British government have lengthy been accused of now not doing sufficient to prevent criminals from in another country the use of UK property for cash laundering.

The file stated the convenience with which Karimova received UK property used to be “alarming”.

There’s no recommendation that the ones running for firms connected to him had been acutely aware of any hyperlinks to him, nor may just the supply of the budget be suspicious. Nobody offering the ones services and products has ever been investigated or fined in the United Kingdom.

For a while Gulnara Karimova used to be tipped to be triumphant her father, Islam Karimov, who dominated Uzbekistan because the Central Asian state’s president from 1989 till his dying in 2016. and served as ambassador to Spain.

However then in 2014, she disappeared from the general public eye. It later emerged that she used to be detained on corruption fees whilst her father used to be nonetheless in energy and used to be sentenced in December 2017. In 2019 she used to be jailed for violating the phrases of her area arrest.

Prosecutors accused him of being a part of a felony staff that managed greater than $1 billion (£760m) in property in 12 international locations, together with Britain, Russia and the United Arab Emirates. “The Karimova case is without doubt one of the largest bribery and corruption circumstances ever,” says Tom Mayne, a analysis affiliate on the College of Oxford and one of the crucial researchers for the Freedom for Eurasia file.

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Googusha within the video for his unmarried spherical run

Alternatively, Karimova and her mates had already offered probably the most property allegedly received from the corrupt budget.

Freedom for Eurasia searched belongings and land registry information to spot a minimum of 14 houses in more than a few international locations, together with the United Kingdom, Switzerland, France, Dubai and Hong Kong, that had been allegedly bought with suspect budget prior to being arrested Used to be

The file, to be revealed on Tuesday 14 March, titled Has the Uzbek princess been enabled?, makes a speciality of 5 houses purchased in and round London now value an estimated £50m – together with one in Belgravia, simply west of Buckingham Palace Contains 3 apartments, a area in Mayfair and an £18m Surrey Manor Area with a personal boating lake.

Two apartments in Belgravia had been offered in 2013, prior to Karimova used to be taken into custody. In 2017, the home in Mayfair, the Surrey mansion and the 3rd flat in Belgravia had been frozen through the Critical Fraud Place of work.

The Freedom for Eurasia file additionally names companies in London and the British Virgin Islands that it claims had been utilized by Karimova or her mates to spend crime proceeds on belongings in addition to non-public jetliners.

Karimova’s boyfriend, Rustam Madumarov, and others now accused of being her accomplices, had been indexed in reliable paperwork as “really useful homeowners” – a felony time period for the one who is in the end in keep an eye on – in the United Kingdom, Corporations founded in Gibraltar and the British Virgin Islands. However the file stated they had been simply proxies for Karimova, who used the corporations to launder loads of hundreds of thousands of greenbacks.

Accountancy services and products for 2 UK corporations connected to Karimova – Panali Ltd and Odenton Control Ltd – had been supplied through SH Landes LLP, a company up to now in response to New Oxford Side road in London.

In overdue July 2010, SH Lands sought to sign in or be received through some other corporate. The purpose used to be to shop for a personal jet for round $40m (£33m), with Madumarov named because the really useful proprietor. If truth be told, in line with the file, Karimova used to be in the back of this acquire.

symbol Supply, Freedom for Eurasia

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Karimova’s former belongings in Mayfair, London, used to be seized through the Critical Fraud Place of work

When requested concerning the supply of his wealth on the time, SH Lands answered: “We consider that the query about his private wealth isn’t related on this scenario.” This seems to be since the cash to shop for the jet used to be now not being supplied through Madumarov from his private budget.

The London-based company later stated that Madumarov’s wealth in part got here from Uzdonrobita, a cell phone corporate founded in Uzbekistan. Questions had already been raised concerning the corporate’s imaginable ties to Karimova. As of 2004, a Moscow Instances article alleged that Karimova embezzled roughly $20 million from Uzdunrobita the use of faux invoices. A former adviser additionally accused Karimova of “fraud”.

As a result of this used to be a high-value transaction involving a high-risk jurisdiction, Uzbekistan, the file argues that SH Lands must have performed “complex due diligence” – thorough due diligence to verify the supply of the budget. The background test used to be legitimate and didn’t stand up from criminality. ,

SH Landes additionally offered the 2012 monetary statements for Panali Restricted. The file states that during September 2013 they had been signed through a detailed affiliate of Karimova: Gayane Avakyan, who used to be then 30 years previous.

Remaining 12 months, the BBC revealed allegations that Avakyan used to be the registered really useful proprietor of a Gibraltar-registered corporate on the middle of “a high-level multi-million greenback fraud and corruption scandal in Uzbekistan”.

In a remark to the BBC, Steven Landes stated: “SH Landes LLP used to be by no means related to Gulnara Karimova. SH Landes LLP acted on behalf of Rustam Madumarov.

“SH Lands LLP has performed due diligence on all its purchasers and related regulatory government were notified and assessed.”

Tom Mayne of Freedom for Eurasia stated that the convenience with which Karimova had controlled to shop for this sort of huge UK belongings used to be a question of outrage.

“It took the government till 2017 to do anything else, years after different international locations had already frozen financial institution accounts and property,” he stated.