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

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

As a result of these proceedings a further US $293 million was confiscated by the Swiss courts in December 2021. However, the same decision has ordered that US $70 million be returned to Karimova offshore company, Takilant Limited. While the judgement details evidence that Takilant was used primarily as a laundering entity for the proceeds of crime, the Court claimed that the prosecution had not been able to sufficiently link the US $70 million to a predicate crime. The decision, in this respect, is being appealed. 

The current restitution process for the stolen assets successfully seized through the Swiss courts, was initiated by the conclusion of a framework agreement between Governments of Switzerland and Uzbekistan in September 2020. The “Memorandum of Understanding” sets out a two-step negotiation. The first step aims to reach an agreement on the distribution of the forfeited assets between Uzbekistan and Switzerland (“Sharing-Agreement”). A Sharing-Agreement was concluded in October 2020, according to information provided by the Swiss Federal Office of Justice (FOJ), which is in charge of the negotiation and the conclusion of said Agreement.

The NGO Uzbek Forum for Human Rights has requested that a copy of this Agreement be made public. This request was denied by the FOJ. An appeal procedure is pending before the Federal Administrative Court.

As to the second step set out in the Memorandum of Understanding, which aims to agree on the modalities of the restitution process (“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 restitution agreement have been settled.

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