Karimova, personally controls the telecom market in Uzbekistan, according to sources in the country. Karimova is described as the person who personally decides who gets the licenses to run a telecom operation and who makes large amounts from the deals. She is described as the most influential woman in Uzbekistan with open ambitions to succeed her father as president.
When Mission: Investigate, Sweden's main current affairs TV program, researched the company that received the money to hand over licenses to Teliasonera, a number of trails led to Gulnara Karimova. The off shore company Takilant Ltd. in Gibraltar has one sole owner, Gayane Avakyan, an Armenian woman born in the mid eighties and active in the fashion scene in Uzbekistan. She turns out to be very close to the president's daughter and the business links between the two are many.
Just a couple of years ago Gayane Avakyan was a director at the ”House of Style” in Tashkent, a fashion house founded by Gulnara Karimova in 2003. Her company Takilant Ltd. has a subsidiary in London, Panally, where the secretary is on the board of another company, Odenton Management Ltd. That company is owned by Rustam Madumarov, Gulnara Karimovas fiancée according to general knowledge in Tashkent.
Additionally, the head of ”House of Style”, Katja Klyueva, is one of the directors of Panally, the Takilant subsidiary.
Kamoliddin Rabbimov, an Uzbek political analyst in exile in France says there is no doubt who Avakyan is. ”She is Gulnara Karimova´s closest confidant”, says Rabbimov. ”They are so close that some five years back Avakyan was put in charge of Gulnara´s financial matters.
Swis authorities recently opened a large investigation into suspected money-laundering in which one of the central persons is Gayane Avakyan. They are also focusing on the deal between Teliasonera and Takilant.
But the suspicion that this is a money laundering scheme hiding payments to the Karimov regime is not one that the Swedish telcom firm recognizes. ”Absolutely not”, says Tom von Weymarn, chairman of the board of Teliasonera at the time of the deal. ”We could never take such decisions”.
Sven Bergman, Joachim Dyfvermark and Fredrik Laurin /SVT
Uppdrag granskning – Mission: Investigate