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"When they ask me "who is the President of Uzbekibekibekistanstan?"
I am going to say, "you know, I don't know, do you know?"
Knowing who is the head of some of some of these small,
insignificant states around the world - I don't think that is
something that is critical to focusing on national security."
Herman Cain, 09 October 2011

Gulnara Karimova

Karimov's oldest daughter, Gulnara Karimova had always been very visible on Uzbekistan's political and cultural stage, and some local observers believed that she was the being groomed as the president's successor. If she (or any other hand-picked candidate) made a bid for the presidential office with Karimov's blessing, then Karimov could take up a post in the Senate while maintaining some power and influence in the country. It seemed unlikely that President Karimov will voluntarily retire from Uzbek politics unless his health prevents him from further activity - and until-mid-2016 there were no clear signs that his health was failing.

Zeromax Gmbh (Zeromax) is a privately- owned, Swiss-registered company that operates in Uzbekistan through a series of joint ventures and investments in the oil and gas, mining, agriculture, textile, logistics and banking sectors. The company keeps a tight lid on all financial and ownership information. It is widely believed, however, that the company is controlled by Gulnara Karimova and a small number of Uzbek business people. Through its close government connections, Zeromax has positioned itself as a key player in Uzbekistan's highly lucrative natural resource sector and continues to expand into other areas of the Uzbek economy. Zeromax controls a large stake in many of the key sectors of the Uzbek economy, including its gas, oil, and gold extraction industries. Zeromax generates a significant percentage of the ruling family's annual income. In addition, the Karimov family reportedly holds large bank accounts in both Europe and the United States.

Karimova has actively tried to develop a relationship with the West, in order to further boost her ties to senior U.S. Government officials. She met with former President Bill Clinton in Europe at a charity fund to combat AIDS, and hoped that a connection with him would allow her to establish good relations with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In late 2008 Gulnora Karimova was appointed as Uzbekistan's permanent representative to the United Nations Mission in Geneva. Karimova had served as Deputy Foreign Minister for International Cooperation in the Cultural and Humanitarian Spheres. Karimova's new position as Uzbek permrep to the UN in Geneva puts her much closer to the Switzerland-based Zeromax corporation, which provided much of the Karimov family's wealth, but probably did little to enhance her political standing at home. Despite speculation over the years that President Karimov may be grooming Gulnora to succeed him, the decision to send Karimova to Geneva may reflect a desire to secure the family's finances and enhance its prospects for future safety and security if conditions in Uzbekistan turn against the Karimov family, rather than to provide her with another stepping stone in her political career. Karimova has given little indication of her long-term political plans, but the Karimov family has made many enemies; the fear and loathing that many alienated businessmen in Uzbekistan have for her suggests that her life in a post-Karimov Uzbekistan would be less than secure.

The state of New Jersey issued a warrant out for her arrest after she fled the United States with her children in 2001 following a messy divorce and custody battle from her first husband, an American citizen who was later awarded custody of the children. As a result, Karimova was unable to travel to the United States or Europe without fear of arrest. Karimova's appointment was an attempt to provide her with diplomatic cover so that she may be able to travel freely once again to Europe, and possibly even to the United States, to inspect her family's finances.

A mafia chieftain and Karimova help businessmen to secure government tenders and job applicants to "buy" government jobs. Crime boss Salim Abduvaliyev puts bidders for tenders in touch with an Iranian businessman holding British citizenship, who submits the paperwork to First Daughter Gulnora Karimova for approval. Salim worked with the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs responsible for personnel issues to arrange government jobs, agreeing on a price and then adding his own fee before selling the position. Salim has reportedly sold a wide range of Government positions, including regional Hokim, police chief, and Ministry of Internal Affairs jobs.

Karimova, 41, had been shielded by diplomatic immunity until July 2013, when she was removed from her position as Uzbekistan's ambassador to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva. wiss prosecutors said they're investigating Gulnara Karimova on suspicion of money laundering. In a statement on 12 March 2014, the office said the criminal probe expanded to include Karimova in the fall of 2013. The statement linked the probe to "alleged illegal acts taking place in the telecommunications market in Uzbekistan." It said some 660 million euros ($915 million) of suspected Uzbek assets had been seized by Swiss authorities.

Gulnara Karimova and her 15-year old daughter Iman have been under house arrest since 17 February 2014. Karimova had been seen as a possible successor to her 75-year-old father. She had long managed to combine politics with a career as a pop star, fashion designer, and the head of charitable funds, but suffered a spectacular fall from power. Her Uzbek media empire, including several television channels, had been shut down and more than a dozen boutiques selling Western clothes in Tashkent that are believed to belong to her or her business partners had been closed on allegations of tax evasion and other charges.

Her star appeared to officially fall on 08 September 2014 when a woman identified as "Karimova G." was named by the Uzbek Prosecutor-General's Office as a suspect in a graft case. The assumption was that it can be no other than the 42-year-old Karimova, who was believed to be under house arrest in Tashkent.

US prosecutors said the daughter of Uzbekistan’s president and several associates failed to comply with a court order to turn over more than $500 million held in Swiss banks as part of a long-running money-laundering investigation. The claim, made in an 21 April 2016 letter to U.S. federal court in Manhattan, names Gulnara Karimova for the first time in publicly available US government documents. She is the eldest daughter of Uzbekistan’s authoritarian president, Islam Karimov. Others named include her business associate Gayane Avakyan and Rustam Madumarov, who has been identified as her boyfriend.

Gulnara Karimova, the elder daughter of late Uzbek ex-president Islam Karimov, is in custody following a 2015 conviction for extortion and embezzlement and is being investigated for more crimes, the Uzbek Prosecutor General's office said on 28 July 2017. In a statement the Uzbekistan Prosecutor-General's Office said that "Gulnara Karimova has been charged" with crimes including fraud, money laundering and concealing foreign currency "and she has been held behind bars."

On 05 March 2019, Karimova's daughter, Iman, wrote from London that her mother had been abducted by Uzbek officials from her home in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. Karimova's attorney Mangeat confirmed the incident. Uzbekistan's state prosecutor confirmed that in December 2017 Karimova had been sentenced to 10 years in prison, but this was reduced to five years on "humanitarian grounds." The sentence could be carried out in her daughter's apartment from summer 2018, with one condition: Karimova assisted in tracking down assets that were suspected to have been stashed around the world. She had not complied, according to Uzbek authorities. She left the apartment multiple times and used the internet, despite a ban. And she had done nothing to recover assets, authorities said. As a result, an Uzbek court banished her to a prison colony.

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Page last modified: 19-03-2019 07:24:51 ZULU