The Wall Street Journal reported today about the US Department of Justice’s effort to seize $1 billion in bribes allegedly stemming from global telecom companies seeking licenses in Uzbekistan. The investigation has been underway at least since last year. A string of front companies close to the glamorous Gulnara Karimova, daughter of the immovable President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov were used in the operation.
Members of the excellent “Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project” (OCCRP) reported in March 2015 about the money trail “Following Gulnara’s Money“. Properties were seized in Switzerland and France.
As the US probe develops, we are witnessing the effects of US legislation and long arm policies. An estimated $300 million are supposed to sit in banks in Ireland, Belgium, and Luxembourg. It is always amazing that politically exposed persons can use banks’ services without raising suspicions. It is true that those individuals use associates as front people and companies in obscure places. But at these levels of transactions, it is amazing that not more effort is spent on vetting the beneficiary owners and the origins of funds.
There will be more and more focus on international corruption in the years to come, with possible amendments strengthening the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and its cousin the UK Bribery Act. The US and UK standard will become international standard, the EU timidly following rules at the European level, and the rest of the world committed by a recent UN Convention against Corruption.