Press Release: Support for Uzbek Activist Proposal on Responsible Asset Return (English and German translation)

17 Aug 2018


Uzbek Activists submit urgent proposal to Swiss Government on the principles and framework for the return of Gulnara Karimova’s Assets


German Translation of Press Release


A group of Uzbek civil society activists have called on the Swiss Government urging them to ensure the responsible repatriation of Gulnara Karimova’s assets to Uzbekistan.

Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of former Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov, is accused of having accepted several hundred million dollars in bribe payments from three international telecommunications companies seeking to enter the Uzbek telecoms market. It has been reported that Karimova’s assets in Switzerland total around 700 million Swiss Francs.

Recent reports have indicated the direct repatriation of Karimova’s Swiss assets to Uzbekistan is imminent. There has been no indication as to the framework for return, including principles and benchmarks to guide the process for the return; as well as oversight and monitoring mechanisms to ensure funds are not misappropriated.

Uzbek activists and civil society organisations who have been closely monitoring developments have severe concerns about any unconditional return of assets directly to the new Uzbek government. They have formulated a summary document outlining the areas for consideration in the framework for return. This includes: principles, benchmarks and key areas for institutional development required to satisfy a safe passage for return of assets, conditional on progress and reform. Umida Niyazorva of the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights states, ‘there has been no effort to reform the institutional conditions which allowed these corrupt activities to take place; and there is currently a high likelihood of reoccurrence. We strongly urge the Swiss and Uzbek governments to right the wrongs committed – by pursuing a series of institutional reforms in the key areas which enabled these kleptocratic crimes to take place. This would create lasting long-term positive outcomes for the people of Uzbekistan’.

In order to assess the Uzbek Government’s commitment to reform, Uzbek and international civil society and experts have also created a working document detailing key methodologies and indicators for assessing institutional progress and development. As Nadejda Atayeva highlights, ‘the process for ensuring the responsible repatriation of assets to Uzbekistan doesn’t end once the funds are returned; that’s when it begins. We need to monitor the repatriation of assets – which should be contingent on institutional progress – particularly regarding the expenditure of assets on key project areas, ensuring commitment and compliance to principles as well as guaranteeing the funds ultimately benefit the Uzbek people in an accountable and transparent manner’.

International civil society organisations support the proposal submitted by Uzbek civil society activists. ‘It’s crucial the Swiss Government adheres to the principles of responsible repatriation, and commit to a final framework which reflects the contextual environment of Uzbekistan’, says Fatima Kanji of the International State Crime Initiative at Queen Mary University of London. ‘This would include a comprehensive post-repatriation framework monitoring domestic institutional progress as well as instituting oversight and compliance procedures once the disbursement of funds takes place. This, of course, would be contingent on the Uzbek government satisfying the criteria for return’.

Uzbek activists have called on the Swiss Government and their international partners to commit to a comprehensive framework for return in line with civil society recommendations:

For all questions and press related enquires please contact:


Fatima Kanji

International State Crime Initiative

Queen Mary University of London

Mile End Road


E1 4NS



Click here for German Translation of Press Release