The court ruling on confiscation of French property of Gulnara Karimova has entered into force on July 9. The money from sale of the apartment in Paris, villa in Saint-Tropez area and a château in Paris suburbs, “which were obtained illegally,” will be returned to the national budget of Uzbekistan, Radio France International reports.
Swiss authorities earlier launched the investigation, involving Gulnara Karimova and several her cronies. The Swiss authorities then has frozen around 800 million Swiss francs “obtained illegally” and presumably belonging directly or indirectly to Gulnara Karimova.
The decision of the French authorities on confiscation of Karimova’s property is connected with the investigation in Switzerland. The French prosecutor’s office launched a probe on suspicion of money laundering in 2014 in connection with the inquiry of the Swiss authorities.
The Paris apartment, the villa in Gassin (near Saint-Tropez) and Château de Grusse were frozen on September 5, 2014. According to French media reports, the apartment was purchased for 31 million Euros, the château cost 28 million Euros, a villa was purchased for 2.4 million Euros.
The French investigation has come to conclusion that three properties registered in the name of the real estate property management company are fruits of corruption money, obtained as a bribe for access to the telecommunication market of Uzbekistan. The money was reportedly obtained from firms registered in Sweden, Russia and the Netherlands. The French investigators said they had to visit many countries in connection with the investigation.
The final decision on Karimova’s French property was made by official Tashkent this year. It took 18 months of talks. French investigators visited Tashkent in January 2019 to discuss the legal mode for return of money.
The apartment in Paris was already sold through the auction for 14 million Euros, two time less than it was purchased.
A part of the confiscated assets – 2 million Euros – will be retained by French investigators for reimbursement of their costs related to investigation.
Gulnara Karimova is serving a prison term in Uzbekistan for corruption. Her 10-year prison sentence was shortened to 5 years in exchange for return of all assets she obtained illegally.
On July 1, the Swiss authorities in connection with the appeal of Karimova’s attorney Gregoire Mangeat suspended return of 550 million Swiss francs to the government of Uzbekistan.