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Zeromax GmbH creditors to meet in Switzerland


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(uznews.net) – Creditors of the bankrupt company Zeromax GmbH are to meet in the Swiss town of Zug to discuss the bankruptcy and the company’s unpaid debts.

Gulnara Karimova

The creditors’ meeting, scheduled for 23 August, will be the first meeting of the various overseas companies who have been trying secure valuation of the assets of Zeromax GmbH, and rescue some of the cash they have invested in Zeromax’s projects, says Swiss agency Moneyhouse. The meeting will elect a representative responsible for the valuation of the assets and the ultimate distribution of any available funds among the creditors.

Zeromax GmbH filed for bankruptcy on 28 October 2010. The company, registered in Switzerland, was at one time the largest investor in the economy of Uzbekistan.

The company had a presence at the commanding heights of the Uzbek economy: gold, oil and gas exploration and production, cotton production, the textiles and food industries and culture and sport. When it failed, it had huge debts relating to every area of its activities.

According to calculations by one Swiss company, which is also chasing money it is owed by Zeromax GmbH, the latter’s total debt amounts to around CHF 3.5 billion, more than US$ 4.6 billion.

Companies and individuals who are owed money by Zeromax GmbH include Russian gas giant Gazprom, companies owned by the Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, a number of German construction firms, insurance companies, consultants and footballers, including the star Brazilian player Rivaldo, who played for the Tashkent club Bunedkor, which was sponsored by Zeromax.

The true owner of Zeromax GmbH, according to several reliable sources, is Gulnara Karimova, the elder daughter of the President of Uzbekistan. The company’s failure means it was never able to realise its most ambitious project – the construction of the “palace of forums” in Tashkent. The magnificent white palace, which, against the advice of its builders and engineers, was slated for completion on 1 September 2009 – the 18th anniversary of Uzbekistan’s independence – ultimately caused the collapse of Zeromax. According to a source at one of the German companies involved in the project, the Palace of Forums has cost Uzbekistan, and the overseas companies building the palace, €1 billion. These costs could have been 30-50% lower, the source claimed, if the Uzbek authorities had not insisted on completion of the project in time for the anniversary of independence. The final finishing inside the building, which was being carried out by German companies, cost Uzbekistan € 293,612,711, he claims.

Based on the sums being claimed from Zeromax GmbH by German creditors, the Uzbek authorities claim that the debt totals just € 60,492,844.

The executive director of Zeromax, Mirodil Jalalov, who has eluded all contact from journalists for the last year, almost never left the Palace during the final weeks of its construction, and lived out of a caravan on site. He persuaded German builders to work overtime, thrusting cash into their hands. One German builder claims Jalalov was worried about arousing the anger of President Islam Karimov if the building wasn’t finished on time.

All that remains of Zeromax’s assets today is a small office in the Swiss town of Zug. Uzbek authorities have not admitted that the Karimov family was behind this once great company. They are despatching creditors to Switzerland for the first meeting at the end of this month.

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