There is little doubt GAB’s Mongolian readers feel strongly about their former Prime Minister and possible 2021 presidential candidate Batbold Sukhbaatar. A December 8 post summarizing Offshore Alert’s December 7 revelations of charges he masterminded a massive corruption scheme sparked an avalanche of comments. By contrast an earlier post recounting charges his likely rival, the current president, was corruption and had abused of power to control judicial appointments drew nary a word.
Comments on the Batbold case split roughly 50-50. Half claimed the charges were fabricated with several seeing unnamed “foreign interests” behind them, and half believed every word of the government’s case and hoped Batbold would soon be brought to justice. Unfortunately for GAB readers neither from Mongolia nor schooled in developments there, none of the commentary offered any facts in support of their passionately asserted views. Indeed, the only fact about the case that has appeared since the Offshore Alert article, at least in the English language press, is a story in today’s Times of London.
As a summary in a newsletter of the story reports, the High Court has ordered that an £11 million London flat Batbold allegedly owns “cannot be sold or transferred during an international £185 million corruption and money-laundering investigation.” The flat [editor comment – apartment or condo in non-British English] is said to be owned by a British Virgin Islands company Batbold controls. In granting the Mongolian government’s request to prevent Batbold from selling the flat until the case against him is resolved, the judge said: “[There is] very strong evidence that Mr Batbold and those in his immediate family have used [it] extensively over the years.”
According to the summary of the Times story, the former prime minister owns $57 million in properties located in New York, Hong Kong, Russia and Thailand as well as London. Quoting court documents, the story says all were obtained through a “labyrinthine system” of offshore companies, “for the purposes of shielding the ill-gotten assets from discovery by the Mongolian authorities.”
GAB would welcome comments or even a guest post addressing the substance of the claims against former Prime Minister Batbold. Is it true he has no connection with the offshore companies he allegedly beneficially owns that are nominally owned by several South Korean citizens? Has he and his family stayed at the London flat? How do the South Koreans explain the ties between them and Batbold the government alleges? Is the government wrong in alleging that Batbold and others received undisclosed payments from individuals associated with two large mining companies, Rio Tinto and Ivanhoe, while the companies were negotiating a concession contract with the Mongolian government?
UPDATE: Shortly after this post appeared, a reader forwarded a link to a story on a Mongolian news service. A Google translation from the Mongolian is shown below. As with the comments GAB has received on the case, the story offers no facts rebutting the charges.
It does contain, however, what would appear to be an error of fact. At least in the English translation. The story says that a “private company for the benefit of the Mongolian government filed a defamatory lawsuit …in a New York state court” against Batbold. The case file in the New York case shows suit was filed by three entities of the Mongolian government, the Agency for Policy Coordination On State Property, and the agencies which operate the two mines at the heart of the allegations, Erdenet Mining Corporation, and Erdenes Oyu Tolgoi LLC.
“In recent days, some foreign and domestic media outlets have been spreading a premeditated and well-organized slander about MP Sukhbaatar Batbold.
“At a time when the economic situation in the country is difficult, those who spread false information and slander for political purposes are investing large sums of money in foreign media and private companies in their illegal activities, which is to their political advantage. is an example of overdoing it. Furthermore, law enforcement agencies need to find out who is spending this large amount of money on dirty political purposes by hiring foreign media outlets, private and for-profit organizations, and law firms to spread defamation.
“A few days ago, a private company for the benefit of the Mongolian government filed a defamatory lawsuit against MP S. Batbold in a New York state court, twisting it as a “court decision” in Mongolia. There was an act of misleading the public. We have informed the media through the media that their atrocities were exposed, that they were brought to justice, that their actions against S. Batbold were stopped in a US court, and that there was no litigation.
“However, their misconduct in spreading slander to foreign countries by illegally using the names of Mongolian government agencies has intensified, and the British press has continued to publish slanderous reports. In this regard, we responsibly declare that S.Batbold and any of his affiliated individuals and legal entities do not own any real estate or companies in this country or abroad.
“We are also making it clear to any judiciary, foreign and domestic media that the allegations are entirely baseless and politically motivated. Unfortunately, the fact that this foreign media organization published slander without asking any clarifying information confirms the organization’s standards of press ethics.
“We declare that we will request the law enforcement agencies to investigate and stop the perpetrators of these acts, which illegally spread the name of the sovereign state of independent Mongolia, spread slander to foreign countries and spread false information to the society.”