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Uzbek leader's daughter faces cash probe

Swiss authorities widen $910m money laundering investigation to include Gulnara Karimova, a former ambassador in Geneva.

Last updated: 12 Mar 2014 14:35
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Gulnara Karimova was removed from her position as Uzbekistan's ambassador to the UN last July [Getty]

The eldest daughter of Uzbekistan's president has been named as a suspect in a Swiss money laundering investigation into deals worth at least $910m conducted while she was an ambassador in Geneva.

Gulnara Karimova, 41, lost diplomatic immunity when she left her position representing Uzbekistan at the UN last July.

Prosecutors on Wednesday said they had included her in an investigation originally against four people with business and personal ties to Karimova.

The Swiss authorities said that they began investigating possible money laundering in connection with funds held in Switzerland linked to what they called alleged irregularities in Uzbekistan's telecommunications market.

The prosecutor said it had since blocked more than $910.75m in relation to the investigation.

"The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland is investigating Gulnara Karimova ... on suspicion of money laundering," the office said.

Two of the four original Uzbek suspects were arrested have been arrested and released on bail, Wednesday's statement added.

Police had searched Karimova's Geneva home at the end of August last year in search of evidence in the case.

Varied career

Karimova has a number of business interests, is a jewellery designer and also a singer whose stage name is "Googosha". She has in the past been tipped to succeed her father, Islam Karimov, as president.

However her media empire, which included several television channels, has recently closed, and more than a dozen boutiques selling Western clothes in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent with which she has links have been closed on allegations of tax evasion and other charges.

In December, a group of exiled Uzbek dissidents broke into Karimova's abandoned home near Lake Geneva and published images of items allegedly taken from the Uzbek national museum.

Works of art, gold and silver trinkets, jewellery, and an 18th century jewel-encrusted Koran were among the items the group filmed in the villa, which Karimova bought in 2009 for $20 million.

Reuters said there was no immediate reaction to the investigation from Karimova, who returned to Tashkent last year. She has in the past denied allegations of business impropriety against her.

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