Mon, 16 Sep 2019

Uzbek authorities say they have opened criminal proceedings against Gulnara Karimova, the elder daughter of late President Islam Karimov who has been jailed in a Tashkent prison since March, over embezzlement allegations.

The Prosecutor-General's Office said on August 19 that Karimova was accused of illegally buying state-owned shares of two cement plants that she later sold to foreign businessmen.

She then 'patronized' the foreign buyers' 'illegal activities, which caused damage to the interests of the republic on an especially large scale,' a statement said.

It added that Karimova was also suspected of forcing owners of several companies to hand them over to her 'under threats of violence.'

Karimova's lawyer, Gregoire Mangeat, declined to comment on the new charges when contacted by RFE/RL.

The 47-year-old was jailed in March for allegedly violating the terms of her house arrest after receiving a five-year sentence in 2015 on charges of embezzlement and extortion.

Uzbek prosecutors have said they aim to seize more than $1.5 billion in foreign assets held by Karimova.

Mangeat said in June that Swiss authorities had put on hold the return to Uzbekistan of $555 million confiscated in connection with the case.

He said the decision had been made due to alleged violations of Karimova's rights and the denial of medical assistance.

Karimova's daughter, Iman, published a letter on her behalf in June saying she needed surgery for unspecified reasons.

Once a socialite, businesswoman, and a pop singer, Karimova disappeared from public view after falling out with her father in 2014 while he was still the country's authoritarian leader.

Islam Karimov ran Central Asia's most populous country from 1989 until his death in 2016.

With reporting by Reuters

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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