According to a source, a dictator’s daughter who doubled as a pop star and diplomat spent $240 million (£200 million) on houses from London to Hong Kong.
According to the Freedom For Eurasia research, Gulnara Karimova used UK firms to purchase properties and a jet using money earned through bribery and corruption.
It further states that UK corporations participating in the agreements used accountancy firms from London and the British Virgin Islands.
The incident casts new doubt on the UK’s efforts to combat illicit money.
The British government has long faced criticism for not doing enough to stop foreign criminals from using UK property to launder money.
According to the research, it was “concerning” how simple it was for Karimova to acquire UK real estate.
There is no indication that anyone working for the businesses she was affiliated with knew she existed or that the money’s origin might have been questionable. Nobody who offered those services in the UK has been subject to an investigation or a fine.
brief grey presentation line
Gulnara Karimova was formerly expected to succeed her father, Islam Karimov, who presided over Uzbekistan as president from 1989 until his passing in 2016. She performed as “Googoosha” in music videos, had a jewelry business, and represented the United States in Spain.
Yet in 2014, she vanished from the public eye. She was jailed in December 2017 when it was later revealed that she had been imprisoned on suspicion of corruption while her father was still in power. She was sentenced to prison in 2019 for violating the conditions of her home arrest.
She was charged with being a member of a criminal organization that was in charge of more than $1 billion (£760 million) in assets spread over 12 nations, including the UK, Russia, and the United Arab Emirates.
Tom Mayne, a researcher on the Freedom For Eurasia report and a research fellow at the University of Oxford, claims that the Karimova case is one of the biggest bribery and corruption instances of all time. Karimova and her friends, however, had already sold part of the allegedly corruptly acquired real estate.
With the help of property and land registry documents, Freedom For Eurasia was able to locate at least 14 properties in the UK, Switzerland, France, Dubai, and Hong Kong that it claims were bought with allegedly dubious monies prior to her detention.
Who Enabled the Uzbek Princess?, a report that will be released on March 14th, focuses on five properties that were purchased in and around London and are now estimated to be worth £50 million. These properties include three flats in Belgravia, just west of Buckingham Palace, a home in Mayfair, and a £18 million Surrey manor house with a private boating lake.
Before Karimova was jailed in 2013, two of the Belgravia apartments were sold. The Serious Fraud Office froze the Surrey estate, the Mayfair home, and a third Belgravia apartment in 2017.
Gulnara Karimova: Former leader of Uzbekistan’s daughter imprisoned
The son of Gulnara Karimova claims her right to self-defense.
The recordings that Gulnara Karimova made in secret
In its study, Freedom For Eurasia also cites companies in London and the British Virgin Islands that it alleges Karimova or her colleagues used to purchase both real estate and a private plane by using the proceeds of crime.
Official paperwork listed Karimova’s boyfriend, Rustam Madumarov, and other people who are now allegedly her allies as the “beneficial owners” – a legal phrase for the person who ultimately controls – of corporations with locations in the UK, Gibraltar, and the British Virgin Islands. Nonetheless, the investigation claims that Karimova exploited them as proxies and utilized the businesses to launder hundreds of millions of dollars.
Panally Ltd and Odenton Management Ltd, two UK businesses connected to Karimova, used the accounting services of SH Landes LLP, a business that was originally based on New Oxford Street in London.
Late in July 2010, SH Landes sought to incorporate or buy another business. The goal was to pay approximately $40 million (£33 million) for a private plane, with Madumarov identified as the beneficial owner. In actuality, the acquisition was actually driven by Karimova, the article claims.
At the time, when asked where he got his money from, SH Landes responded, “We consider that the question of his personal wealth is not relevant in this case.” This appeared to be the case because Madumarov did not utilize personal finances to pay for the jet.
Later, the London-based business claimed that Uzdonrobita, an Uzbek mobile phone company, was a significant source of Madumarov’s fortune. Concerns had already been voiced over the business’ potential connections to Karimova. In a 2004 report for the Moscow Times, it was claimed that Karimova stole $20 million from Uzdunrobita using false invoices. Karimova had also been charged with “racketeering” by a former advisor.
What three luxurious mansions indicate about UK real estate ownership
Russian oligarchs under sanctions who own £800 million in property in the UK
The study contends that SH Landes should have performed “increased due diligence” — in-depth background investigations to make sure the source of funds was legitimate and not sourced from criminal activity — because it was a high-value transaction connected to a high-risk jurisdiction, Uzbekistan.
The Panally Ltd. financial accounts for 2012 were also provided by SH Landes. According to the article, Gayane Avakyan, then 30 years old, a close friend of Karimova’s, signed off on them in September 2013.
Avakyan was allegedly the registered beneficial owner of Takilant, a Gibraltar-registered business at the center of “a high-level, multi-million dollar fraud and corruption scandal in Uzbekistan,” according to charges made public by the BBC the year before.
Steven Landes confirmed in a statement to the BBC that Gulnara Karimova never hired SH Landes LLP. In fact, SH Landes LLP advocated for Rustam Madumarov. All of SH Landes LLP’s clients underwent due diligence, and all pertinent regulatory agencies were informed and kept updated.
The apparent ease with which Karimova was able to acquire so much UK real estate, according to Tom Mayne of Freedom For Eurasia, is troubling.
Years after other nations had already frozen her bank accounts and properties, it took the authorities until 2017 to take any action, he continued.