Gulnara Karimova, daughter of former Uzbekistan President Islam Karimov, moonlighted as a pop sensation and diplomat spent $240m on properties from London to Hong Kong, according to BBC.
According to the Freedom For Eurasia study, Ms Karimova used UK companies to purchase properties and a jet by using money earned through bribery and corruption. It further stated that UK corporations participating in the agreements used accountancy firms from London and the British Virgin Islands.
According to the outlet, the British government has faced criticism for not doing enough to stop foreign criminals from using UK property to launder money. There is no indication that those acting for the firms linked to her were aware of any connection to her. Nobody in the UK who provided those services has been probed or penalised. It is to be noted that Ms Karimova was formerly expected to succeed her father. She made appearances in music videos using the stage name “Googoosha”, owned a jewellery business and was an Ambassador to Spain.
However, in 2014, she vanished from the public eye. She was jailed in December 2017 when it was later revealed that she had been imprisoned on suspicion of corruption while her father was still in power. Ms Karimova was sentenced to prison in 2019 for violating the conditions of her home arrest. She was charged with being a member of a criminal organisation that was in charge of more than $1 billion in assets spread over 12 nations, including the UK, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates.
However, some of the real estates reportedly purchased with corrupt cash had already been sold. According to Freedom For Eurasia, which conducted its investigation into property and land registry data, at least 14 properties in the UK, Switzerland, France, Dubai and Hong Kong, were bought with reportedly suspicious funds prior to her detention.
As per the BBC, the report focuses on five homes purchased in and around London that are now estimated to be worth 50 million pounds. These homes include three flats in Belgravia, which is near Buckingham Palace, a home in Mayfair and a manor house in Surrey with a private boating lake. Before Ms Karimova was jailed in 2013, two of the Belgravia apartments were sold. The Serious Fraud Office froze the Surrey estate, the Mayfair home and the Belgravia apartment in 2017.
In its study, Freedom For Eurasia also cites companies in London and the British Virgin Islands that it alleges Karimova or her colleagues used to purchase both real estate and a private plane by using the proceeds of crime. Rustam Madumarov, Ms Karimova’s boyfriend and other people who are now allegedly her accomplices, were named in official records as the “beneficial owners” of companies with locations in the UK, Gibraltar and the British Virgin Islands. The study says that they served just as stand-ins for Ms Karimova, who utilised the businesses to launder hundreds of millions of dollars.
In 2020, SH Landes, an accounting firm connected to Ms Karimova’s UK-based businesses, tried to incorporate or buy out another business. The objective was to buy a private plane for about $40 million, with her boyfriend identified as the beneficial owner. However, Ms Karimova was in reality the driving force behind the purchase, as per the report.
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