Zeromax even “borrowed from foreign investors (the World Bank and Asian Development Bank [ADB]) under government guarantees”, Taksanov said.
The World Bank and ADB both told Central Asia Online they had no financial involvement with Zeromax.
|March 25, 9:57 AM, 2010 · Washington Babylon · Previous · Next|
Is Pentagon in Bed with “Queen of the Uzbeks”?
Should the Pentagon be cutting deals with a company apparently controlled by the powerful daughter of Uzbekistan’s dissident-boiling dictator, Islam Karimov? As previously noted here, Gulnara Karimova has amassed a striking degree of wealth and international fame, with friends who include Bill Clinton and Sting.
Gulnara is widely believed to control Zeromax, which reports annual sales of over $1 billion and is involved in transportation, oil and gas, mining, agriculture and private investment. Last year, Foreign Policy quoted a Central Asian analyst as saying, “Zeromax is essentially one of the facades behind which Gulnara Karimova continues to tighten her grip on any and all available sources of income in the country by any means she deems necessary, with little or no regard for legal niceties.”
FMN Logistics describes itself as “the U.S. small business contracting arm of Zeromax.” Harry Eustace Jr., FMN’s CEO, serves as a board member of the American-Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce (AUCC), where his father, Harry Eustace Sr. serves as Chairman. Eustace Sr. also is a senior advisor to Zeromax.
“The AUCC promotes trade and investment ties between the United States and Uzbekistan and lobbies against U.S. sanctions on Karimov’s government,” Foreign Policy reported. “Following the 2005 Andijan massacre — in which hundreds of unarmed protesters were mowed down by Uzbek security forces — the organization’s president, James Cornell, wrote to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urging her to take into account the “special context” of Andijan and “not rush to conclusion or ignore the thorough investigation carried out by the government of Uzbekistan.”
I could hardly believe this story that Eurasianet broke back in September of last year, about Sting’s plan to give a concert for the Uzbek elite at the behest of Gulnora Karimova, daughter of dictator Islam Karimov. Tickets for $1,000? Nice, in a country with a minimum monthly wage of less than $20, and from a performer who styles himself as a champion of human rights. Then in February this year the UK Guardian came out with the news that the guy pocketed between $1 and $2 million US for the show, claiming he thought it had been sponsored by UNICEF. Right.
Since Gulnora is linked to the holding company Zeromax, which boasts thousands of acres planted under cotton, Sting’s dirty money is likely to have been in part wrung out of the exhausted land by the tired little hands of Uzbek school-kids. Though to be 100% fair, Zeromax denies that it uses child labor to harvest its cotton (but this deserves a post of its own).
Everyone has a chance to let Sting know what they think of his moneymaking venture via this petition, asking him to sign over his profits from the show to the cause of Uzbek human rights.
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