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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?

Report Launch:

Tue, March 14, 2023, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM EDT

Loc­a­tion: Online


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. 

Speaker Bios

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.

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