Business World

Monday 22 July 2019

More time granted as US authorities seek talks over alleged bribery proceeds held in Ireland

Uzbekistan president Islam Karimova. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images
Uzbekistan president Islam Karimova. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

Simon Rowe

US authorities have granted a three-month stay on a court order directing the seizure of hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of assets held in Irish bank accounts to enable further talks in a bid to reach an out-of-court settlement.

The assets are linked to one of the world's biggest corporate bribery cases and allegedly linked to the daughter of Uzbekistan president Islam Karimova.

In court filings lodged last week, US authorities have postponed activating seizure orders over assets of €269m that reside in bank accounts in Ireland, Luxembourg and Belgium, which they allege are the proceeds of corrupt payments to Uzbekistan officials by two of Russia's largest telecoms companies.

A new stay - lapsing on October 31 - has been put on a court order to seize the Irish-based assets to enable high-level talks between the Republic of Uzbekistan and the US Department of Justice over a potential resolution.

Gulnara Karimova, the eldest daughter of the Uzbek president, is named in US court filings as the alleged beneficial owner of at least six Irish bank accounts.

The US Department of Justice claimed the money is linked to corrupt payments totalling $114m made by MTS, Russia's largest mobile operator, and Vimpelcom, the world's sixth largest telecoms company, to Karimova and her business associates from 2006 to 2012.

The money was laundered in a complicated series of transactions involving US financial institutions and the purchase of investment portfolios and assets in Ireland.

The funds are held at Bank of New York Mellon Investment Servicing (International) in Ireland.

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