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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Turkmenistan Closes Niyazov Fund

ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan -- Turkmenistan's president ordered closure of a fund set up by late President Saparmurat Niyazov, the government said Saturday, in what appeared to be an attempt to recover some of the vast wealth Niyazov is believed to have stashed abroad.

President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov's decree, issued Friday, also set up a special commission to audit the activities of the fund, International Fund of Saparmurat Niyazov, said state newspaper Neutral Turkmenistan.

No further details were released and little is known about the sources or the expenditures for the fund itself, except that it was founded in 1993 and is managed by German banks.

At the time of Niyazov's death, London-based corruption watchdog Global Witness says, the Turkmen Central Bank had $2 billion to $3 billion in accounts at Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt.

Also Friday, Berdymukhammedov nixed government plans for a big bash for his 50th birthday. "As a person and a citizen, I feel understandable gratitude, but as head of state, it is incorrect to give any sort of order to this effect," he said.