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  • UzbekistanAssetReturn


Updated: Aug 28, 2022

In 2012, in the context of domestic criminal proceedings, the Swiss Office of the Attorney General froze assets of approximately USD 800 million derived from corruption.

Subsequently, in 2019, the forfeiture of some USD 131 million was ordered. This amount is now subject to restitution to Uzbekistan. The remainder, i.e. approximately USD 600 million, is currently being forfeited in the context of domestic criminal proceedings, which are currently ongoing.

The restitution procedure was initiated by the conclusion of a framework agreement between Switzerland and Uzbekistan in August 2020. The so-called “Memorandum of Understanding” sets out the two-step negotiations.

The first step, aiming at reaching an agreement on the principle of the restitution of the forfeited assets to Uzbekistan (“Sharing-Agreement”), seems to be closed: a Sharing-Agreement has been reached in October 2020, according to the information provided by the Swiss Federal Office of Justice (FOJ), which is in charge of the negotiation and the conclusion of the said Agreement.

The NGO Uzbek Forum for Human Rights had requested access to this Agreement but it was unfortunately denied by the FOJ. However, this request was rejected by the FOJ and, consequently, an appeal procedure is pending before the Federal Administrative Court.

As to the second step, aiming at agreeing on the modalities of the restitution (“Restitution-Agreement”), it is still ongoing. The related negotiations are being conducted by the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs. In this respect, it should be noted that, in February 2022, it was agreed that the assets will be returned to Uzbekistan through a United Nations Multi-Partner Trust Fund once the details of the mechanism have been agreed upon.

Margaux Reber


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