Gulnara Karimova is in custody following a 2015 conviction for extortion and embezzlement and is being investigated for more crimes.

Gulnara Karimova,  a former prominent socialite, fashion designer and singer, is being charged with massive fraud and money laundering.
Gulnara Karimova, a former prominent socialite, fashion designer and singer, is being charged with massive fraud and money laundering.

Gulnara Karimova, the elder daughter of late Uzbek ex-president Islam Karimov, is in custody following a 2015 conviction for extortion and embezzlement and is being investigated for more crimes, the Uzbek Prosecutor General's office said on Friday.

In a statement the Uzbekistan Prosecutor-General's Office said that "Gulnara Karimova has been charged" with crimes including fraud, money laundering and concealing foreign currency "and she has been held behind bars."

Karimova, 45, is the eldest daughter of the late president of the ex-Soviet Central Asian state, who died following a reported stroke in September last year.

She was once tipped to succeed her father and was a high-profile figure, serving in diplomatic posts including as ambassador to Spain and Uzbekistan's permanent representative to the United Nations in Geneva.

She also organised a fashion week, had her own jewellery line and released pop singles under the name Googoosha as well as running entertainment television channels.

In a statement, the organised crime unit of the Prosecutor-General's Office said she was a member of an organised criminal group that controlled assets worth more than $1.5 billion in 12 countries, including Switzerland, Britain, France and Russia.

It said these included London properties worth $30 million and hotels in Dubai worth $67 million.

Among the long list of allegations against Karimova are that she fraudulently acquired assets worth $595 million and received $869 million in kickbacks that were paid into offshore accounts.

She has been reportedly under house arrest in the country since 2014 after publicly feuding with her mother and her younger sister Lola on Twitter. She did not attend her father's funeral.

The statement by the Prosecutor-General's office says that she was handed a five-year non-custodial sentence, that did not see her jailed, in 2015.

In an interview with the BBC in December, her London-based son Islam Karimov Jr, 23, called on authorities in Uzbekistan to prove that his mother was alive and well.

Karimova is also the subject of a multi-year corruption probe targeting Western telecoms firms that US and European investigators say paid her billions of dollars to secure access to the national market.

Swiss prosecutors reportedly questioned her in Tashkent in December, quashing rumours of her possible death.

Source: AFP