Offshore Alert yesterday revealed the Mongolian government has charged former Prime Minister Batbold Sukhbaatar with receiving hundreds of millions of dollars from kickbacks and fraudulent and illegal transactions in deals involving the nation’s two largest mines. The case against the former prime minister, senior member of the ruling Mongolian People’s Party, and the party’s likely 2021 presidential candidate, is spelled out in a November 23 filing in a New York court. The New York case together with similar ones in Hong Kong and London seeks a freeze on assets Batbold holds until the main case, brought in Mongolia, is decided. There plaintiffs — the agency responsible for overseeing Mongolia’s natural resources and the state-owned companies that operate the two mines – ask that agreements between the two operating companies and shell companies they say Batbold secretly owns be invalidated and Batbold and accomplices disgorge all profits made on secret deals and as well as pay damages. The total could run into the hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars.
Documents submitted in the New York case paint a picture familiar to students of kleptocracy. With assistance from lawyers, accountants, and other enablers, Batbold allegedly established some 100 shell companies in at least ten countries to conceal his actions and hide his wealth. Two things make the case worthy of careful study by all seeking to end the massive theft of a nation’s assets by its rulers:
i) the political will the governing party has shown in pursuing one of its own, and
ii) the quantum of information on an alleged kleptocrat’s wrongdoing that can be gleaned from a painstaking search of the public record.Continue reading