Asset Recovery Watch

ARW-232
Unnamed Uzbek "Government Official A"/ Mobile Telesystems and Vimpelcom Telecom Case (US)
Uzbekistan
"Several Positions" in Uzbek Government, including during 2005-2011; a "relative of the President of Uzbekistan"
United States
Undertaking Recovery Effort, Location of Recovery Effort, Asset Location
2015
Ongoing
Art.16, Art.18, Art.23
Yes
Non-Conviction Based Confiscation
MLAT
Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (by United States with Uzbekistan and Switzerland)
Ongoing case
Ongoing
Before Court of First Instance
See related entry, Gulnara Karimova / Swiss asset recovery case; amount of frozen asset not included here so as to avoid double counting of amounts frozen

According to the US Department of Justice Press Release in the FCPA case against VimpelCom, "The department has also filed two civil complaints seeking a total of $850 million in forfeiture. A complaint filed today seeks forfeiture of approximately $550 million in proceeds of illegal bribes paid, or property involved in the laundering of those payments, to the Uzbek official by VimpelCom and two other telecommunications companies operating in Uzbekistan. The $550 million is currently located in Swiss bank accounts. The department also filed a prior complaint seeking forfeiture of an additional $300 million in proceeds of illegal bribes paid, or property involved in the laundering of those payments, to the same Uzbek official. The assets sought to be forfeited in that complaint are restrained in Belgium, Luxembourg and Ireland. In that case, on Jan. 11, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York entered a partial default judgment against all potential claimants other than the Republic of Uzbekistan.

As alleged in the complaints and as is part of the criminal resolutions announced today, the telecom companies paid a total of more than $800 million in bribes so that the Uzbek official would assist VimpelCom and other telecommunications companies in obtaining and retaining business in Uzbekistan. Thereafter, the official’s associates laundered the corruption proceeds through accounts held in Latvia, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Ireland, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland. The illicit funds were transmitted through financial institutions in the United States before they were deposited into accounts in these countries, thereby subjecting them to U.S. jurisdiction."  (Source: US Department of Justice Press Release, "VimpelCom Limited and Unitel LLC Enter into Global Foreign Bribery Resolution of More Than $795 Million; United States Seeks $850 Million Forfeiture in Corrupt Proceeds of Bribery Scheme," February 18, 2016.)  As of June 27, 2016, the case against assets held in accounts belonging to First Global is stayed, pending settlement discussions by the Department of Justice and involved parties. (US v. All Assets Held in Accounts [belonging to First Global], Case No. 15-cv-05063 (SDNY), Stipulation filed April 27, 2016 and Court Docket Report as of June 26, 2016.) while a partial default judgment motion was filed in late June 2016 in case against assets held on behalf of Takilant Limited and Tozian Limited. (Source:  US v. All Funds Held in accounts at Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch and Cie Bank et al, Case No. 16-cv-01256 (SDNY), Partial Default Judgment motion filed June 23, 2016.)

 

According to the US Department of Justice complaint filed in the case, Gayane Avakyan and Rustan Madumarov, close associates of "Government Official A" were arrested in 2014 and subsequently convicted and of multiple criminal offenses in relation to the case and sentenced to prison terms.  (Source:  US v. Any and all assets held in account numbers ... at Bank of New York Mellon SA/NV, Brussels, Belgium, on behalf of First Global Investments SPC Limited, et al, Case No. 15-cv-05063 (SDNY), Verified Complaint filed on June 29, 2015, paragraphs 18-19; See also, US v. All Assets Held in Accounts [by First Global Accounts, Case No. 15-cv-05063 (SDNY), January 26, 2016.

Tashkent Regional Criminal Court in the Republic of Uzbekistan
Internal Revenue Service (Criminal Investigations and Global Illicit Financial team); Immigration and Customs Enforcement, DHS
DOJ Criminal Division's Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section, Kleptocracy Asset Recovery Initiative
US District Court for the Southern District of New York