Mongolia's former president jailed for corruption

Mongolia's former president jailed for corruption

Nyamdorj Enkhbayar, Mongolia's former President, has been jailed for four years on corruption charges after a court verdict hat could threaten the country's fragile government's coalition.

Nyamdorj Enkhbayar, Mongolia's former President
After a three-day trial, Enkhbayar was found guilty of charges that included the illegal privatisation of a hotel and newspapers and the misuse of donated television equipment to broadcast from his own television station.
Enkhbayar accused state prosecutors of twisting facts and said the corruption charges were politically driven. "I'm not afraid of anyone. I will fight for justice and a new Mongolia," he said.
His wife, Onon Tsolmon, blamed Mongolia's current President Tsakhia Elbegdorj and vowed to fight "the injustice" by all means.
Enkhbayar was president from 2005 to 2009, before narrowly losing to President Elbegdorj in the 2009 presidential election. He was arrested in April by the country's anti-corruption authority.
The court also ordered Enkhbayar to pay more than 54 million tugriks (£26,000) in damages.
Resource-rich Mongolia is in the middle of a mining boom that is set to transform its tiny economy, but political uncertainties have threatened to overshadow its efforts to attract the foreign investment needed to develop mines and build vital infrastructure.
The young nation held its parliamentary elections in July and the ruling Democratic Party, which won just 31 out of 76 seats, was forced to form a coalition with Justice Coalition, which is led by Enkhbayar's Mongolian People's Revolutionary Party (MPRP).
Although Enkhbayar was barred from taking part in the elections, he remains as the chairman of the MPRP, which won the third-largest block of seats in parliament.
"The Democratic party needs the Justice Coalition without them, it doesn't work and the partnership may now fall apart," said Luvsandendev Sumati, director of the Sant Maral Foundation, a polling agency.
Election results last month left more than a quarter of the parliament in the hands of politicians who advocate local control of mines. Investors said the latest episode could worsen the political gridlock and increase uncertainty for foreign investors.
Key decisions pending for major mining projects, such as the development of the massive Tavan Tolgoi coal mine, may also be delayed.
Enkhbayar, who served as president of the landlocked central Asian country from 2005 to 2009, has called for the $13 billion Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine project with Ivanhoe Mines
to be renegotiated to grant better terms to the government, and also wants to keep the coveted Tavan Tolgoi coal mine, potentially one of the world's biggest coal suppliers, in local hands.
Rio Tinto has a majority stake in Ivanhoe and has full operational control over the Oyu Tolgoi mine, which is due to start production this year.



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