Uzbek assets in the amount of $850 million are frozen in bank accounts in Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, and Switzerland. The U.S. Department of Justice has initiated two cases to force the forfeiture of these funds, claiming they were illicitly obtained by corrupt members of the Uzbek elite and Uzbek telecom companies. In parallel, the Uzbek Ministry of Justice has requested that the frozen funds be forfeited to Tashkent, arguing that money that benefited corrupt Uzbek officials should be returned to the government. Because a return of the assets to the Uzbek government may fuel an already entrenched system of grand corruption in the country, Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and the United States should seek a solution whereby the assets are used for the benefit of the Uzbek people.
This roundtable conversation will focus on corrupt practices in Uzbekistan and the use of asset recovery as a form of redress for victims of corruption. The discussion will be kicked off by Dr. David Lewis, who will share his analysis of the endemic issue of high-level corruption in Uzbekistan’s economic and political system, drawn from his report Tackling Corruption in Uzbekistan: A White Paper, published by the Open Society Foundations.
- David Lewis is senior lecturer in Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics at the University of Exeter (UK).
- Brian Campbell is a legal adviser at Cotton Campaign.
- Kristian Lasslett is senior lecturer in criminology at the University of Ulster and executive board member of the International State Crime Initiative.
- Alisher Ilkhamov (moderator) is program manager for Uzbekistan within the Eurasia Program of the Open Society Foundations.