France investigates Uzbek president's daughter in money-laundering case

A French judge is investigating the daughter of Uzbekistan's President Islam Karimov for alleged money-laundering, linked to possible secret commissions allegedly paid by Swedish telecoms firm TeliaSonera for access to the Uzbek market.

Gulnara Karimova, Uzbekistan's "first daughter"
Gulnara Karimova, Uzbekistan's "first daughter" AFP/Amy Sussman

France launched an inquiry into persons unknown for "money laundering as an organised gang" and "corruption of a foreign agent" in February, judicial sources told the AFP news agency.

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The probe came after a request by Swiss authorities, whose suspicions were aroused by Gulnara Karimova's "desperate attempts" to withdraw 600 million Swiss francs last year, according to the Rue89 website, which broke the story.

Police raided several apartments in France at a Berne prosecutor's request on 18 June and judge Serge Tournaire is hot on Karimova's heels, taking particular interest in a villa at the Riviera resort of Saint Tropez, of which the Uzbek president's daughter is reported to be one of the "beneficiaries".

TeliaSonera is suspected to have paid up to 320 million euros in under-the-table commissions in 2007, Rue89 reports.

The Swiss suspect several of Karimova's associates, including her personal assistant, of running a huge money-laundering operation, Rue89 says.

A US embassy cable, made public by Wikileaks in 2010, described Karimova as "rampantly corrupt" and "the single most hated person in the country", who "uses her father to crush business people or anyone else who stands in her way".

On top of her business interests, Uzbekistan"s "first daughter" is a singer. A video of her performing a duet with formerly French actor Gérard Depardieu, who recently became Russian, has been uploaded to Youtube and can be viewed below.

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