What does Uzbekistan’s “klepto-baby”, Gulnara Karimova, teaches us about enablers and asset repatriation to help civil society gear up?
Gulnara Karimova is one of the most recognizable faces of kleptocracy. While she has been convicted for her crimes in Uzbekistan, other kleptocracy dynasties continue to rampantly steal their countries’ coffers with impunity — from Equatorial Guinea’s Obiang and his crooked son, to Azerbaijan’s Aliyev family to Hun Sen and his cronies in Cambodia.
How do these kleptocrats get away with stealing their countries’ wealth? Enter the professional enablers - not just those in sunny offshore islands, but in Europe and North America. This has long been established, but two key questions emerge:
- How do we best regulate the enabling environment to prevent lawyers, PR firms, real estate agents, bankers and others within this enabling system from doing the kleptocrats’ bidding?
- And once cases have been identified and assets frozen, how do we repatriate these assets to ensure they benefit the actual victims of these crimes – the citizens of the source countries?
Tue, March 14, 2023, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM EDT
Tom Mayne will discuss the findings of Freedom for Eurasia’s latest report. Kris Lasslett will discuss the recent issues of the repatriation of Gulnara Karimova’s assets. Leila Nazgül Seiitbek will highlight the impact of this report and implications in Uzbekistan while Lucas Olo Fernandes will share their thoughts on what these recommendations and findings mean for Central Africa and the overall fight against kleptocracy.
Thomas Mayne is a Research Fellow at the Department of Politics and International Relations (DPIR) of the University of Oxford, and a former Visiting Fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House. His research focuses on anti-money laundering legislation, especially in regard to grand corruption and kleptocracy. For twelve years he worked as a Senior Campaigner for Global Witness, an anti-corruption NGO that works to end the exploitation of natural resources, and was responsible for investigations in Eurasia.
Leila Nazgul Seiitbek, is an exiled lawyer, anti-corruption and human rights advocate from the Kyrgyz Republic, who was granted asylum in Austria in 2021. She is a Chairwoman of Freedom for Eurasia, which documents and reports on human rights and corruption abuses in Eurasia (the former Soviet Republics of Eastern Europe and Central Asia).
Kristian Lasslett is the Head of the School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences at the University of Ulster, and sits on the Executive Board of the International State Crime Initiative. He is the joint Editor-in-Chief of State Crime and the Editor of The State Testimony Project. His research focuses on criminogenic intersections of state-corporate power, and the communities of resistance that emerge in opposition.
Lucas Olo Fernandes, a lawyer by training, currently serves as on the Board of Directors at the Comisión Ecuatoguineana de Juristas as the Secretary of the Equatoguinean Commission of Jurists. He is the Regional Coordinator for the Central African countries and program coordinator for Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean for Transparency International (he served as the Acting Executive Director of TI in 2016). He has previously worked with Dow Jones Risk and Compliance, Freedom House, and Global Integrity.