Tonight Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev will tout the benefits of investing in his country to executives of multinational firms at a swank dinner at the Onyx Room in mid-town Manhattan. He will point to measures the government has taken since the death last year of its first president, renowned kleptocrat lslam Karimov, to open the country to foreign investment — from reforms to economic policy to steps to improve its atrocious human rights record. But before they open their checkbooks, the execs will want to heed the warnings contained in a letter Uzbek civil society activities just sent Washington lawyer Carolyn Lamm, chair of the American-Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce, the host of tonight’s get-together.
Reprinted below, the letter cautions that there are still many signs that Uzbekistan has yet to shed its kleptocratic past, from the appointment of one of the most notorious kleptocrats of the previous regime as prime minister to the rise to power of Mirziyoyev’s sons-in-law. The authors remind Ms Lamm and the members of her organization what happened to those who invested in Karimov’s kleptocracy. Not only did their investments turn out to be a bust, but the bribes the investors had to pay to do business have cost them (or more accurately their shareholders) dearly. One firm was fined $795 million by Dutch and American authorities and a second recently told shareholders it anticipates paying over $1 billion to resolve the case against it.
The authors sent a copy of their letter to the members of Ms Lamm’s organization, a group that includes General Electric, General Motors, Boeing, Catepillar, Coca-Cola, Honeywell, Visa, and other well-know, well-respected companies traded on American stock exchanges (and thus subject to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act). Readers holding shares in any of these companies will want to ensure company executives pay careful attention to the letter’s warnings.
Ms Carolyn Lamm
American-Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce
601 13th St NW # 600S
Washington, D.C. 20005
September 18, 2017
An Open Letter to the American-Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce regarding the Situation in Uzbekistan on the Eve of its Meeting with President Mirziyoev
Dear Chairwoman Lamm:
We, the undersigned Uzbek citizens and activists, write to you on the eve of your dinner with President Shavkat Mirziyoev on September 20, 2017, to express concern that your members may be misled into believing that meaningful reform is underway in our country. We ask you to share with them this letter explaining the current conditions in Uzbekistan and the risks any firm investing or doing business in the country will face. We further ask you to urge the President to reform the judiciary and create an independent, impartial and effective body to investigate allegations of corruption. Continue reading