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Can the Government of Uzbekistan
Responsibly Manage Seized Assets?
A Capacity Assessment

Pro­fess­or Kris­ti­an Lass­lett and Dr Daw­id Stanczak1

With a strong body of inter­na­tion­al prin­ciples inform­ing respons­ible asset
return, this paper applies these bench­marks in order to eval­u­ate how
effect­ively the Gov­ern­ment of Uzbek­istan has man­aged domest­ic assets seized
from Gul­nara Karimova and her close asso­ci­ates. The full report on which this
paper is based can be obtained from
Inter­na­tion­al asset return is a crit­ic­al tool in the glob­al fight against cor­rup­tion. It aims to
deter klepto­crats and crim­in­als from using for­eign jur­is­dic­tions as safe havens to
ware­house the pro­ceeds of crime, whilst also offer­ing resti­tu­tion to vic­tim pop­u­la­tions.
Yet the inter­na­tion­al repat­ri­ation of stolen assets can itself be a chal­len­ging task when
the vic­tim nation’s gov­ern­ment remains affected by high levels of cor­rup­tion.
To man­age the asso­ci­ated risks, and to ensure repat­ri­ated assets bene­fit the pub­lic
harmed by cor­rup­tion, a grow­ing body of inter­na­tion­al bench­marks have been developed
to facil­it­ate respons­ible asset return. They have been encap­su­lated in the Prin­ciples for
Dis­pos­i­tion and Trans­fer of Con­fis­cated Stolen Assets in Cor­rup­tion Cases (“GFAR
prin­ciples”) developed by the mul­ti­lat­er­al Glob­al For­um on Asset Recov­ery.
The GFAR prin­ciples require that parties involved in asset return adhere to high
stand­ards with regards to trans­par­ency and account­ab­il­ity (Prin­ciple 4); as well as civic
inclu­sion (Prin­ciple 10). They also recom­men­ded that returned assets be applied in ways
1 Kris­ti­an Lass­lett is Pro­fess­or of Crim­in­o­logy at Ulster Uni­ver­sity and a Co-Dir­ect­or at UzIn­vest­ig­a­tions.
He sits on the board of the Inter­na­tion­al State Crime Ini­ti­at­ive. Dr Daw­id Stanczak is Lec­turer in
Crim­in­o­logy at Ulster Uni­ver­sity. He is also a research­er at UzIn­vest­ig­a­tions.
which help repair the harm caused by cor­rup­tion, whilst also guard­ing against
reoc­cur­rence (Prin­ciple 6).
Put simply, the pro­cesses involved in the return of repat­ri­ated assets ought to be totally
trans­par­ent. Those state and non-state organ­isa­tions man­aging the returned assets must
be fully account­able to the pub­lic. Where pos­sible, returned assets ought to repair harm
and sup­port anti-cor­rup­tion ini­ti­at­ives. And finally, it is crit­ic­al that the public’s voice in
vic­tim nations is front and centre when it comes to decid­ing how repat­ri­ated assets are
to be used.