Uzbekistan late president’s daughter sent to prison

Gulnara Karimova violated court orders while under house arrest, says prosecutor

Gulnara Karimova, eldest daughter of Uzbekistan’s late president Islam Karimov, was being pursued by authorities seeking recovery of over $1.3bn of assets she controlled in foreign jurisdictions. Photograph: Muhammad Sharif/Getty

Gulnara Karimova, eldest daughter of Uzbekistan’s late president Islam Karimov, was being pursued by authorities seeking recovery of over $1.3bn of assets she controlled in foreign jurisdictions. Photograph: Muhammad Sharif/Getty

 

Gulnara Karimova’s spectacular fall from grace took a new twist this week after the daughter of the late president of Uzbekistan was transferred to jail from a flat in Tashkent where she was being held under house arrest.

Uzbekistan’s prosecutor said Ms Karimova would spend the rest of the five-year sentence she is serving for corruption in a prison colony after violating court orders while confined in her daughter’s home in the capital.

Ms Karimova had ignored prosecutors’ warnings to behave issued after she left the flat last November in a flagrant breach of the rules of house arrest. She had continued to make use of the telephone and internet and had “actively obstructed the reimbursement of damages” owed to the state.

Once famous as a jet-setting socialite, pop star and ruthless businesswoman, Ms Karimova has not been seen in public since quarrelling with her father, Islam Karimov, who ruled Uzbekistan with an iron fist for a 25 years before his death in 2016.

Karimov was said to have been infuriated by accusations that his eldest daughter had abused her position to take kickbacks from foreign telecommunications companies seeking entry to Uzbekistan’s flourishing mobile phone market. Ms Karimova was stripped of her official role as Uzbekistan’s ambassador to Spain and the United Nations in Geneva. And after issuing a stream of invective against her country’s repressive law enforcement agencies, she was barred from using her Twitter account.

Prosecutors only broke their silence about Ms Karimova’s whereabouts after her father died and Shavkat Mirziyoyev, Uzbekistan’s long-serving prime minister was elected president. Ms Karimova had been convicted of tax evasion, extortion and theft of state property and sentenced to 10 years of “restricted liberty”, they said. Investigators were pursuing further charges against her and seeking to recovery more than $1.3 billion of assets she controlled in foreign jurisdictions.

Ms Karimova’s sentence was reduced to five years in July 2018 on condition that she co-operated with the authorities and made good on a promise to return all the funds she had stolen from the state.

It appears that she had not expected punishment for breaching the terms of her house arrest. Iman Karimova, her daughter complained that law enforcers had broken into her flat while her mother was bathing on Tuesday night and unlawfully taken her away to an “unknown location”. A photograph posted on Iman Karimova’s Instagram account shows two men forcing a woman clad in a bath robe and slippers into a lift in what appears to be a residential block.

Political commentators said Mr Mirziyoyev had consolidated power after overseeing sweeping reforms of Uzbek law enforcement agencies and felt confident enough to put the once powerful daughter of the former president behind bars.

However Grégoire Mangeat, Ms Karimova’s defence lawyer, indicated that the harsh treatment meted out to his client was more about money than politics.The Uzbek authorities were exerting “psychological and physical pressure” on Ms Karimova to “withdraw her appeals and abandon all her rights and property in Switzerland”, he wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.