Restitution of illicit assets: Switzerland and Uzbekistan sign agreement

Bern, 16.08.2022 - Switzerland and Uzbekistan have signed an agreement on the restitution of assets that were definitively confiscated in the criminal proceedings in connection with Gulnara Karimova. The assets will be used for the benefit of the population of Uzbekistan with the help of a UN trust fund. The restitution of assets will have a positive impact on bilateral relations between the two countries and make a significant contribution to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The President of the Swiss Confederation Ignazio Cassis and the Uzbek Minister of Justice Ruslanbek Davletov today signed an agreement on the restitution of assets, which the Federal Council had previously approved at its meeting on 22 June 2022.

"The agreement will shape and strengthen relations between our two countries in the long term," said Mr Cassis on signing the agreement. The agreement provides for the creation of a new UN multi-partner trust fund. "Switzerland and the Uzbek authorities have cooperated constructively with the UN to set up an innovative and transparent fund that will make a very real contribution to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Uzbekistan. The fund will allow the returned assets to be used for the benefit of the population of Uzbekistan," said Mr Cassis. The fund will not just be used for the USD 131 million currently available, but also for any assets definitively confiscated in future in the ongoing criminal proceedings in connection with Gulnara Karimova.

Switzerland and Uzbekistan working together with the UN

Both Switzerland and Uzbekistan are represented on the fund's strategic governing bodies and will therefore be involved throughout the restitution process. The fund's assets will be leveraged to advance the SDGs in Uzbekistan. Funding will be provided for projects that are in line with the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) for Uzbekistan.

Projects will be implemented by UN agencies participating in the fund, working with various implementing partners. They will be monitored in line with the monitoring and evaluation framework established for the fund and UN system rules and regulations. Civil society organisations will act in an advisory capacity.

The selected approach is in line with Switzerland's asset recovery strategy, which involves freezing, confiscating and returning stolen assets.

The fund commences operations immediately now that the parties have signed the agreement.

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