Property seized in bid to control ‘dirty money’

Convicted fraudster, Gulnara Karimova, once dubbed the Uzbek princess’, has had three luxury properties confiscated by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO).

According to the SFO, Karimova received hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes from telecommunications companies between 2004 and 2012 in return for helping them gain access to the market in Uzbekistan.

An investigation into Karima’s activities by the Swiss authorities, which began in 2012, was quickly followed by probes by the US, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian and French authorities as well as the UK.

In 2017, the SFO obtained a freezing order under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA) against Karimova, who was jailed in 2019 in Uzbekistan for tax evasion, embezzlement, illegally appropriating state assets and on a number of fraud charges.

In 2020, the Uzbek Supreme Court granted permission for the SFO to personally serve Ms Karimova and her boyfriend, Rusam Madumarov with a Civil Recovery claim issued by the High Court in London.

According to Uzbekistan’s Justice Ministry, it has already obtained assets worth more than £102 million from luxury properties in France, Switzerland, the US and Russia, linked to Karimova and described as having been “earned through criminal activities.”

A report by Freedom for Eurasia into Karimova’s activities, entitled Who Enabled the Uzbek Princess, said that her case is “one of the largest bribery and corruption cases of all time.”

It found that amongst numerous other assets, she bought several properties in the UK worth an estimated £50 million, including three flats in Belgravia, a house in Mayfair and an £18 million Surrey manor house, complete with a private boating lake.

Helen Gregory, Forensic Director at Milsted Langdon, said: “For a case brought under POCA to be successful, it is necessary for the prosecution to show that, on the balance of probabilities, the funds are “criminal property” for the defence to rebut that allegation by providing relevant and reliable evidence.

“This process requires a careful forensic examination of an individual’s assets by experienced accountants, who can trace the maze of transactions that often take place in cases as significant and as serious as these.”

Source: Daily Mail

Posted in The Forensic Blog.