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Restitution of illicitly acquired assets: Progress of negotiations between Switzerland and Uzbekistan

In line with the Framework Agreement signed in September 2020 and in support of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Switzerland and Uzbekistan are negotiating a restitution agreement for the return of assets definitively forfeited in criminal proceedings in connection with Ms. Gulnara Karimova. These assets will be returned for the benefit of the population of Uzbekistan through a new United Nations Multi-Partner Trust Fund (the Fund) once the details of the mechanism have been agreed upon and a legally binding restitution agreement has been signed.

14.02.2022
A graphic showing Switzerland and Uzbekistan which explains the process of restitution.

Description of the restitution process between Switzerland and Uzbekistan. © FDFA

On 11 February 2022, Switzerland and Uzbekistan held a round of negotiations during which both delegations agreed in principle to set up a new United Nations Multi-Partner Trust Fund (the Fund). The Fund will be used for the return of assets that have been definitively confiscated in criminal proceedings in connection with Ms. Gulnara Karimova. It will also serve as a restitution mechanism for any further assets that may be ultimately seized in the future as part of the still ongoing criminal proceedings. At present, some USD 131 million are ready to be returned.

According to the current state of discussions, the Fund's governance mechanism will be composed of representatives of Switzerland, Uzbekistan, and the United Nations. Switzerland and Uzbekistan will thus be involved in the entire restitution process. The Fund will contribute to SDG achievement in Uzbekistan. It will allocate resources to projects in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework for Uzbekistan (UNSDCF). These projects will be implemented by UN system entities, participating in the Fund in cooperation with a variety of implementing partners. All projects will be monitored according to the Fund monitoring and evaluation framework in line with UN system rules and regulations. Civil society organizations will have a consultative role.

The Fund will start its activities after a legally binding restitution agreement has been signed between Switzerland and Uzbekistan. As soon as the restitution agreement is signed, more details of the Fund and its functioning will be made available.

In September 2020, Switzerland and Uzbekistan signed a framework agreement. This defined the principles that would guide negotiations on the legally binding restitution agreement, and its implementation. In this way, the restitution is intended to benefit the population of Uzbekistan and be transparent and accountable. In line with the framework agreement, negotiations on a restitution agreement between Switzerland and Uzbekistan started in November 2020 and are ongoing.