The head of FC Barcelona, one of the most famous football clubs in the world, has had extensive dealings with Gulnara Karimova, the daughter of Uzbekistan’s president, according to an investigative report published by the prominent Spanish daily El Pais. Joan Laporta Estruch, 47, has served as president of the Barcelona football club since 2003. In August of 2008, he made his first trip to Tashkent, according to the El Pais report. On that trip “he was received with the honors of a chief of state,” the report added.
“On this and on later visits to the [Central] Asian state, his host was Gulnara Karimova, the self-proclaimed ‘princess of the Uzbeks,’” the report continued. The report describes Karimova as the “owner” of the Zeromax conglomerate, a Swiss-registered entity, “whose businesses operate in almost every economic sphere” in Uzbekistan. In addition, Zeromax, perhaps the most influential economic entity in the Central Asian nation, maintains controlling interest in the country’s most prominent football club, FC Bunyodkor.
For those of you who read Spanish, here’s the link to the very entertaining El Pais story.