Uzbekistan said today that it has jailed the eldest daughter of late president Islam Karimov, Gulnara Karimova – once a prominent socialite, fashion designer and singer – after charging her with massive fraud and money laundering.
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”.
Karimova, 45, is the eldest daughter of the late authoritarian president of the secretive ex-Soviet Central Asian state, who died following a reported stroke in September last year.
She was once tipped to succeed her father and was a high-profile figure, serving in diplomatic posts including as ambassador to Spain and Uzbekistan’s permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva.
She also organised a fashion week, had her own jewellery line and released pop singles under the name Googoosha as well as running entertainment television channels.
In a statement, the organised crime unit of the Prosecutor-General’s Office said she was a member of an organised criminal group that controlled assets worth more than USD 1.3 billion in 12 countries.
It said these included London properties worth 22.9 million pounds (USD 29.95 million) and hotels in Dubai worth USD 67.4 million.
Among the long list of allegations against Karimova are that she fraudulently acquired assets worth USD 595 million and received USD 869.3 million in kickbacks that were paid into offshore accounts.
She has been reportedly under house arrest in the country since 2014 after publicly feuding with her mother and her younger sister Lola on Twitter. She did not attend her father’s funeral.
The statement by the Prosecutor-General’s office says that she was handed a five-year non-custodial sentence, that did not see her jailed, in 2015.
In an interview with the BBC in December, her London-based son Islam Karimov Jr., 23, called on authorities in Uzbekistan to prove that his mother was alive and well.
Karimova is also the subject of a multi-year corruption probe targeting Western telecoms firms that US and European investigators say paid her billions of dollars to secure access to the national market.
Swiss prosecutors reportedly questioned her in Tashkent in December, quashing rumours of her possible death.