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Amateur boxing president with alleged ties to heroin trade steps aside amid investigation

Gafur Rakhimov will step aside during an investigation led by the International Olympic Committee.

Gafur Rakhimov

Gafur Rakhimov, one of the alleged leading criminals involved in the heroin trade, has offered to step aside as president of the Amateur International Boxing Association (AIBA) amid an investigation by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Rakhimov, who became interim president in January 2018 after a tenure as AIBA’s longest serving vice-president, agreed to step aside to allow an interim president to assume the role while the IOC investigates financial mismanagement in AIBA and determines whether amateur boxing will be expelled from the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. The IOC halted planning for the boxing tournaments at the 2020 Games and barred AIBA officials from contacting any organizers in Japan.

“Given the current situation, I have informed the AIBA Executive Committee of my intent to step aside as AIBA President in accordance with the AIBA Statutes and Bylaws, which allow the President to renounce to exercise his powers and to be replaced by an Interim President.” Rakhimov said in a statement.

An IOC spokesperson stated the Rakhimov’s offer “makes no difference to the IOC’s inquiry” because the investigation is “not about just one individual.”

In 2017, the US treasury department office of foreign assets control (OFAC) froze Rakhimov’s assets in the United States and prohibited US-based businesses from conducting financial transactions with the controversial businessman. The OFAC justified its sanctions on Rakhimov by linking him to the “Thieves-in-Law,” a transnational criminal syndicate based in Eurasia that has been linked to illegal activity around the world. The OFAC designated the Thieves-in-Law as part of a “broader strategy to disrupt the financial infrastructure of transnational criminal organisations that pose a threat to the United States and our allies.”

According to the OFAC, Gafur Rakhimov collaborated with Thieves-in-Law on business dealings and provided material support to the syndicate. Once a local criminal involved in extortion and car theft, he is now believed to be one of the most powerful criminals in Uzbekistan and an important person involved in the heroin trade. He is also reportedly a member of the so-called ‘Brother’s Circle,’ an international criminal group involved in drug trafficking.

Rakhimov later claimed he has never been involved in criminal activity and that “these lies were fabricated by the former regime in Uzbekistan because they wanted my businesses to support them financially. But I refused. The pressure continued relentlessly until my family and I were forced to leave the country in 2010 to protect ourselves. “They then launched a misinformation campaign against me, in which they used the levers of state to harass me, and reported false allegations about me to the US authorities to destroy me.”

Despite his decision to step aside during the probe, Rakhimov confirmed he has no intention of handing in his resignation.