Seized assets of Uzbekistan’s disgraced Karimova to finance work in reducing child mortality

By Muzaffar Ismailov in Tashkent September 23, 2023

Assets of the disgraced Gulnara Karimova retrieved by the Uzbek state will be used to finance work in reducing child mortality, the UN mission in Tashkent has announced.

Various ill-gotten gains of Karimova, the 51-year-old eldest daughter of Uzbekistan’s late president Islam Karimov who achieved renown and great influence as a businesswoman and diplomat but is now serving a prison sentence in Uzbekistan following fraud convictions, have been frozen and confiscated in several countries. Karimova was particularly active in securing illicit proceeds in telecoms.

One agreement on seized Karimova assets, struck between Switzerland and Uzbekistan, secured the return of $43.5mn confiscated in criminal proceedings. These funds will be directed to the Uzbekistan Vision 2030 Fund, administered by the UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund. They will finance a UN programme aimed at reducing the preventable mortality of mothers and newborns in Uzbekistan among 600,000 people.

The programme, implemented by Unicef, UNFPA and the World Health Organisation (WHO) focuses on:

• strengthening management mechanisms, programmes and rules, and guidelines and clinical protocols in 227 perinatal centres;

• purchases of equipment and capacity building in relation to medical workers at perinatal centres;

• providing 10mn Uzbekistanis with knowledge on high-quality and inclusive services in the field of the reproductive health of mothers, newborns, children and adolescents.

A key goal of the programme is to increase the survival rate of children with a low birth weight from the current 75% to 90%.

In August, Britain’s Serious Fraud Office confiscated luxury properties worth $25.5mn that belonged to Karimova. In March, a Freedom For Eurasia report found that Karimova spent $240mn obtained from bribery and corruption on properties from London to Hong Kong. In reporting the study, the BBC noted how Karimova used UK companies to buy homes and a jet, with accounting firms in London and the British Virgin Islands acting for the firms involved in the deals.

Karimova’s colourful time in the celebrity world included her moonlighting as a pop star with the stage name "Googoosha". She is also a former Uzbek ambassador to Spain. 

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