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Uzbek president’s daughter faces Swiss money-laundering investigation

Swiss prosecutors say they have been investigating the eldest daughter of the Uzbek president, Islam Karimov, on suspicion of money laundering since late last year.”The Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland is investigating Gulnara Karimova … on suspicion of money laundering,” the office said in a statement, adding that an investigation into four people in her entourage had been broadened to include her personally last autumn.Karimova, 41, had been shielded by diplomatic immunity until last July, when she was removed from her position as Uzbekistan’s ambassador to the United Nations and other international organisations in Geneva.

She reportedly left Switzerland shortly after that and her name was added to the ongoing probe on 16 September 2013, the statement said. The results of the Swiss investigation had led to new corruption probes against her abroad, including in France and Sweden, it added.

Swiss authorities first launched a criminal money-laundering probe against four Uzbek nationals with close ties to Karimova in July 2012, the statement said, adding that the suspected illegal activities were linked to the Uzbek telecommunications market.

Two people were arrested that summer but released on bail the following October, Wednesday’s statement said.

Police had searched Karimova’s Geneva home at the end of August last year in search of evidence in the case.

In connection with the investigation, Swiss authorities had blocked more than 800m Swiss francs’ worth of suspected Uzbek national artifacts in Switzerland, and were attempting to identify their origin, it said.

Alongside her official positions, Karimova released pop songs, designed jewellery and headed a charitable fund, and she was seen as a possible successor to her 75-year-old father until a spectacular fall from power in recent months.

Her media empire including several television channels has been shut down, and more than a dozen boutiques selling western clothes in Tashkent that are believed to belong to her or her business partners have been closed on allegations of tax evasion and other charges.

In December, a group of exiled Uzbek dissidents broke into Karimova’s abandoned luxury home on the shores of Lake Geneva and published images of items allegedly taken from the Uzbek national museum.

Works of art, gold and silver trinkets, jewellery, and an 18th-century jewel-encrusted Qur’an were among the items the group filmed in the villa, which Karimova purchased in 2009 for 18m Swiss francs (£12m).

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