Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland

Swiss Federal Criminal Court

Ministry of Justice of Switzerland

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland

United States Department of Justice

National Crime Agency, United Kingdom

Serious Fraud Office, United Kingdom

The Gibraltar Regulatory Authority

We, Uzbek human rights activists, have repeatedly issued statements on the need for the complete confiscation of assets stolen by Gulnara Karimova, daughter of the former President of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, and have called for the responsible return and use of these assets in accordance with the principles of transparency, accountability and inclusivity, which reflect the interests of the people of Uzbekistan.

In total, $800 million of assets stolen from Uzbekistan have been frozen in Switzerland since 2012 and are awaiting return to Uzbek people, a true victim of corruption in this case. Of this amount, $131 million is already in the process of being returned to Uzbekistan. In addition, a further $293 million was confiscated by a decision of the Swiss Criminal Court of December 2021.

However, as part of the same decision, the Swiss court ruled that approximately $69 million should be returned to Takilant Limited, an offshore company registered in Gibraltar, which was used by Gulnara Karimova to receive bribes from telecommunications companies that operated in Uzbekistan. The money was subsequently laundered through Swiss banks.

Takilant Limited received illicit payments from Teliasonera and Vimpelcom. It was, as a result, found guilty of passive bribery by the Amsterdam Criminal Court in 2016.

This decision in the first instance of the Swiss Federal Criminal Court to return $69 million is currently the subject of our greatest concern: the money stolen from the people of Uzbekistan is now set to be returned to a criminal syndicate whose head, Gulnara Karimova, is the subject of Global Magnitsky Sanctions.

The fact of this theft has already been proven by an abundance of evidence, decisions of authorities in other jurisdictions and journalistic investigations. It is deeply regrettable that a company so clearly mired in transnational criminality, such as Takilant Limited, will now potentially receive a significant financial windfall because prosecutors were unable to penetrate to the satisfaction of the Swiss Courts, the opaque corporate layers and complex transactions employed by Karimova’s office to obscure the origins of the syndicate’s wealth.

This sets a dangerous precedent for kleptocrats around the world – if you can channel funds domiciled in Switzerland through complex international structures, making it impossible to penetrate the web of transactions, you will be able to retain control over your Swiss assets even if you are successfully prosecuted for a range of predicate crimes.

We note with some hope that the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland has filed an appeal against the ruling and we hope that this may lead to an outcome more in line with justice.

Given the significant risk that a criminal syndicate, the subject of Global Magnitsky Sanctions, may receive a significant windfall of US$69 million, we are appealing to various state parties to support the international fight against kleptocracy. In particular we request that:

The US Department of Justice should pursue with utmost urgency its in rem action against Karimova syndicate assets in order to secure for the people of Uzbekistan the US$69 million currently being returned to Takilant Limited;

The UK authorities and the government of Gibraltar should initiate an investigation into Takilant Limited, looking at what role the UK and Gibraltar authorities can play in preventing Takilant Limited, and by extension Gulnara Karimova, from being unjustly enriched.

We also hope that the Swiss authorities will shed light on the fate of the remaining $306 million frozen in Switzerland.


Umida Niyazova, Director, Uzbek Forum for Human Rights

Dilmira Matyakubova, PhD Researcher, University of Ulster

Alisher Ilkhamov, Director, Central Asia Due Diligence

Farida Sharifulina, civil society activist

Timur Karpov, journalist

Muzaffar Suleymanov, sivil society activist

Alisher Toksanov, political scientist

Azimbay Ataniyazov, civil society activist

Shahida Tulyaganova, journalist

Murat Ubbiniyazov, civil society activist

Kudrat Babajanov, journalist

Ulugbek Ashur, journalist