FRANCE

Uzbek leader's daughter linked to money laundering

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 August, 2013, 2:34am
AFP

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French authorities are investigating a money laundering case that targets Gulnara Karimova, the Uzbek leader's daughter, among others, a judicial source said yesterday.

The eldest daughter of Islam Karimov, who has ruled Uzbekistan with an iron fist since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Karimova was educated at Harvard and is seen as a possible successor to her 75-year-old father.

The source said a French probe was opened in February into "money laundering by an organised gang" and "corruption of a foreign official", in a case allegedly involving Karimova.

The case centres around real estate, including a villa in the south of France.

Since last year, her name has also been mentioned in a massive money laundering probe against Swedish-Finnish telecoms giant TeliaSonera. Swiss public broadcaster RTS said it received information indicating that a probe into the matter by the Swiss public prosecutor's office implicates Karimova directly, though she has yet to be notified officially of any charges.

Karimova has become the public face of her former Soviet country that borders Afghanistan, and until recently served as its permanent representative in the United Nations in Geneva.

The 41-year-old has denied any ambitions to replace her father. But earlier this year, she posted tweets critical of First Deputy Prime Minister Rustam Azimov - considered to be one of the most influential officials serving under Karimov - prompting speculation of a struggle between the two would-be successors.

Karimova also runs her own jewellery and clothing lines, heads a number of charity projects and is known as a pop star under the name of GooGoosha. She also released a pop duet with French actor Gerard Depardieu.