Gulnara Karimova, the convicted daughter of Uzbekistan’s former president, has been found guilty on new charges of embezzlement and extortion and sentenced to more than 13 years in prison.
Karimova, a powerful socialite and business tycoon during her father Islam Karimov’s 27-year-long dictatorship, fell from grace in the later years of his regime and was found guilty in 2015 of stealing as much as $1.6bn through tax evasion, embezzlement, and illegally appropriating state assets.
Last year, the US indicted Karimova for receiving more than $850m in bribes from three telecom companies seeking access to the country’s market and then laundering the money through the US financial system.
On Wednesday Uzbekistan’s supreme court said in a statement that the 47-year-old had been found guilty of fresh charges of “extortion, racketeering . . . . criminal activities and embezzlement”.
After a closed trial, Karimova was given a sentence of 13 years and four months. The prison term will be calculated from August 2015, when she was first found guilty. Five other people were also found guilty of acting in concert with her.
Karimova was described in a US diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks as a “robber baron” and “greedy, power-hungry individual” whose corrupt appetites had made her “the most hated person in the country”.
A fashion designer and pop star who also served as Uzbekistan’s representative to the UN and ambassador to Spain, Karimova built a business empire that spanned many of the resource-rich country’s industries before she fell out of favour with her ageing father.
She became a lightning rod for popular anger in Uzbekistan, Central Asia’s most populous nation, over rampant corruption under Mr Karimov’s rule, which began before the collapse of the Soviet Union and ended upon his death.
Islam Karimov’s successor, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, has sought to use his presidency to open up Uzbekistan to the west and enact widespread reforms, including a crackdown on the use of child labour in the country’s vast cotton industry.
Karimova, who denied the charges, had requested Mr Mirziyoyev permit her release on ill-health grounds in exchange for her dropping attempts to contest the country’s efforts to recoup $686m worth of her assets frozen by Swiss authorities.
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