Mongolia’s anti-corruption agency under threat

ollowing recent calls for the resignation of the head of Mongolia’s leading anti-corruption body, Transparency International urges the president of Mongolia to stop undermining anti-corruption efforts nationwide and cease threats to fire the country’s top watchdog.
Formed in 2007, the Independent Authority against Corruption (IAAC) investigates cases of corruption across the country according to Mongolian law. Yet, the agency is under increasing political pressure from government officials who point to the country’s poor performance on the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) and hold the IAAC responsible for low national scores.
“Mongolia’s poor score on this year’s CPI underlines the need to strengthen anti-corruption efforts nationwide, not weaken them,” said Delia Ferreira Rubio, chair of Transparency International. “The CPI should not be used as a bargaining chip by the president to undercut the authority of national, independent anti-corruption agencies.”
According to national law, the head of the IAAC is required to serve a six-year term, with the present leader slated to be in power until the end of 2022. However, since its inception in 2007, the IAAC has changed leadership three times, with no single leader finishing a full term.

The need for an independent agency

Well-financed and independent anti-corruption agencies, like the IAAC, can be strong weapons in the fight against corruption. However, these agencies need support from national governments, including the judiciary and law enforcement systems in order to be successful. Above all, agencies need independence; they need to establish credentials as independent investigators dedicated to fighting corruption both inside and outside government.
Anti-corruption agencies, including the IAAC in Mongolia, often emerge in the context of corruption scandals. The agencies are formed through broad political consensus and are regarded by most stakeholders as the ultimate response to corruption. However, in general, these agencies can also find themselves at the centre of political controversy if they decide to investigate those in power.

Examining Mongolia’s CPI score

Earlier this year, Transparency International released the 2017 CPI, which scores and ranks 180 countries and territories by their perceived levels of public sector corruption on a scale of zero (highly corrupt) to 100 (very clean). With a score of 36, Mongolia scores poorly on this year’s index, highlighting how corruption is a serious problem across the country.
Specifically, the index draws on 13 surveys and assessments from independent institutions specialising in governance and business analysis, covering experts’ opinions and the views of businesspeople. The score for Mongolia was aggregated from nine data sources.
Transparency International Mongolia was not involved in the data collection or score calculation process for the CPI. Based in Berlin, the secretariat for Transparency International calculates the index independently, and the score calculation approach is designed to be non-political and non-partisan.
Despite this, recent reports in Mongolia have painted an inaccurate picture of the index’s methodology and results. The CPI has been criticised in Mongolia as a reflection of the poor performance of the IAAC. However, the CPI is not an adequate tool to measure the performance of any institution in a country, including the IAAC. Instead, the CPI looks at the general perceptions in a country. In fact, any interference with the proceedings of autonomous anti-corruption agencies could potentially backfire, resulting in additional negative perceptions and even lower CPI scores.
To truly tackle corruption in Mongolia, and throughout the Asia Pacific region, governments must strengthen anti-corruption rules and policies, punish corrupt individuals, support activists who demand accountability and denounce corrupt acts as soon as they occur.
For more information about the Corruption Perceptions Index and its methodology, visit: https://www.transparency.org/news/feature/corruption_perceptions_index_2017#resources 

For any press enquiries please contact


Jen Pollakusky/Michael Hornsby    
E: press@transparency.org
T: +49 30 3438 20 666

Source:Transparency International
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India, Mongolia to enhance bilateral trade, investments

India and Mongolia today discussed economic cooperation in areas such as infrastructure development, energy, services and IT and agreed to explore possibility of launching direct air connectivity between New Delhi and the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar.


India and Mongolia today discussed economic cooperation in areas such as infrastructure development, energy, services and IT and agreed to explore possibility of launching direct air connectivity between New Delhi and the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj during a joint media briefing with Mongolian Foreign Minister D Tsogtbaatar after the 6th Session of the Indian-Mongolia Joint Committee on Cooperation here said the two countries agreed to explore ways to identify new areas of cooperation in all sectors of mutual interest and to enhance bilateral trade and investments.
Swaraj, the first Indian foreign minister to visit the resource-rich country in 42 years, said India sees Mongolia as a factor of stability in East Asia and believes that Mongolia's social and economic development is important for peace and prosperity in the region.
During the Indian-Mongolia Joint Committee on Cooperation, the two sides discussed pressing global challenges, particularly the scourge of terrorism and agreed to collaborate bilaterally and in international arena to thwart the designs of those who extend support to terrorist outfits.
The two sides also reviewed the progress in the ongoing collaborative projects, including the refinery project selected by the Government of Mongolia for implementation with the support of USD one billion Indian Line of Credit.
"We directed our officials to coordinate follow up action on each side for the expeditious implementation of these projects. Our strong political ties must be complemented by commensurate levels of trade, economy and investment," she said.
"Today, India has emerged as one of the fastest growing large economies in the world. With its rich natural resources and strong aspiration for development, Mongolia can be an important partner in India's growth story," she said.
Swaraj, who arrive here yesterday on a two-day visit, said collaboration for the ongoing refinery project is in recognition of this fact.
She said Mongolia is not only India's strategic partner but also a spiritual neighbour.
"We share long historical links. Mongolia is well known in India for the valour of her kings and her strong Buddhist heritage. India was among the first countries, outside the erstwhile Communist bloc, to establish diplomatic relations with Mongolia," she said.
Swaraj said in the six decades of the partnership between the two countries, the bilateral relations have grown from "strength to strength".
"This is reflected in our widening and deepening strategic partnership today, based on the common ideals of democracy and freedom, and enriched by mutual respect and trust."
She said Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "historic visit" in 2015, the first ever by an Indian Prime Minister to Mongolia, provided a fresh impetus to the bilateral relations and qualitatively raised the level of the engagement.
"We also agreed that we should make all efforts to maintain and accelerate the momentum of our interaction in all areas."
She said that in tandem with the countries' "ever growing" engagement, India and Mongolai will have more frequent visits now on at Foreign Minister's level.
Calling upon the Mongolian business community to "seize economic opportunities arising out of "India's growth", she said the two countries have agreed to remove institutional and logistical impediments to boost trade, tourism and people to people contacts.
"In this regard, we also agreed to explore possibility of launching direct air connectivity between our two capitals," she said.
In the meeting, they discussed economic cooperation in areas such as infrastructure development, energy, services and IT.
She said that India is committed for capacity building programmes for the people of Mongolia, including in areas such as, training in English language and IT.
She said India looks forward to more students from Mongolia visiting the country for pursuing vocational education and training under the Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation programme, also known as ITEC, and through scholarships offered by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations.
"We would encourage students from Mongolia to pursue studies in Indian art, music and culture which would further reinforce our cultural links," she said.
In view of the two countries' common Buddhist heritage, she said, India also encourage students from Mongolia to visit the country for further study and research in the field of Buddhist studies.
Swaraj will participate in a special event to commemorate the birth centenary of the Venerable 19th Kushok Bakula Rinpoche, who was not only an eminent Buddhist leader, but also the longest serving Ambassador of India to Mongolia.
The event will mark his contribution to the promotion of Buddhism in Mongolia and to the deepening of civilizational and spiritual bonds between the two countries.
She said India and Mongolia share a bond of peace through Buddhism.
"As we tread the path of developing our partnership; I am sure, the teachings of Lord Buddha will continue to guide us," she said.
India and Mongolia have close cooperation in trade and economy, science, health, agriculture, culture, education, communication and tourism. The two countries are also working closely to ensure security and curbing international crimes and terrorism.
The total trade between the two countries amounted to USD 25.6 million in 2016.
Source:Press Trust of India (PTI)
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Mongolia, Singapore on shortlist of summit hosts

Mongolia and Singapore are on the shortlist of locations for a widely anticipated summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, a source with knowledge of the decision told the JoongAng Ilbo on Tuesday.

“European countries such as Switzerland and Sweden were mentioned up until now, but they have been excluded because it was determined to be difficult for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to physically get there,” the source said. “The United States and North Korea are holding final negotiations to choose between Singapore and Mongolia.”

The decision could be reached as early as this week, the source said, but at the request of Pyongyang, an official announcement might be pushed off until details including the date and agenda are finalized. Trump and Kim are expected to meet in May or June in the first summit between an American and North Korean leader.

According to the source, the European countries are difficult to reach nonstop aboard the Chammae-1, a private North Korean jet converted from a Soviet aircraft. While the plane could have a layover, Pyongyang was said to have not desired this.

The 1970s-era Chammae-1 can only fly stably for up to around 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles). Stockholm, which was under consideration, is around 7,200 kilometers from Pyongyang, and Zurich is about 8,500 kilometers away.

“North Korea hasn’t let go of its attachment to holding the summit in Pyongyang,” the source said, “but in the case where the United States doesn’t want this at all, it has come around to the idea of reviewing Mongolia as a location. North Korea has the notion that Mongolia is a friendly country.”

Sandwiched between China and Russia, Mongolia has hosted so-called track-1.5 talks involving current North Korean officials and academics from Western countries. It is an especially desirable location for North Korea because Kim can travel there by rail on his bulletproof train.

While the United States has friendly relations with Mongolia, it has pointed to inadequate infrastructure in the capital of Ulan Bator and is pushing for Singapore.

“The U.S. government had excluded countries with personal interests from the list of candidates, including South Korea, Japan and China, and afterward looked for Southeast Asian countries that simultaneously met various conditions, which is why Singapore was selected,” the source said.

This suggests Singapore best fulfills Washington’s standard in terms of infrastructure and security - and Trump’s desire to have a glamorous location for the first U.S.-North summit.

“Since President Trump desires to leave his historic mark through the North-U.S. summit, he wants a country that can best draw the attention of the entire world,” another source close to the White House said. “Based on that criteria, Mongolia could be a choice that does not satisfy Trump.”

Singapore is also a relatively neutral country with a North Korean and American embassy. A flight from Pyongyang to Singapore takes around 6 hours and 30 minutes, and the distance is 4,700 kilometers, within the range of the Chammae-1.

The Trump administration has put great significance on selecting a venue for this historic summit. South Korean locations such as the border village of Panmunjom, Seoul and Jeju were ruled out because they are “already being publicized through the inter-Korean summit” scheduled for Friday, another source close to the White House said, and Trump doesn’t want to appear to hand over leadership on the North Korea issue to South Korea.

BY KIM HYUN-KI, SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]


Source:Korea Joongang Daily news portal

http://mengnews.joins.com/amparticle/3047354
       
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Indian foreign Minister arrives in Mongolia for 1 day visit

Ulaanbaatar [Mongolia], Apr. 24 (ANI): External Affairs Minister (EAMSushma Swaraj on Tuesday arrived in Mongolia's capital city Ulaanbaatar, after wrapping -up her China visit.
Swaraj was received by Deputy Foreign Minister of Mongolia B Battsetseg.
This is the first visit of an Indian External Affairs Minister (EAM) to Mongolia in 42 years.
During Swaraj's visit to Mongolia, she will hold bilateral talks">talks with her Mongoliacounterpart Damdin Tsogtbaatar.
The minister will co-chair the 6th round of India-Mongolia Joint Consultative Committee (IMJCC) meeting with Tsogtbaatar, covering a range of issues including, inter alia, political, strategic, economic, educational and cultural ties. The last meeting of IMJCC was held in New Delhi in 2016.
According to the reports, Swaraj will also deliver the keynote address at the Kushok Bakula Birth Centenary Celebrations in Ulaanbaatar.
Earlier in the day, Sushma Swaraj attended the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Foreign Ministers' meeting in Beijing. (ANI)
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Mongolian anti-corruption agency arrests 2 ex-PMs amid mine probe

ULAN BATOR, April 11 (Xinhua) -- Mongolian law enforcement officials on Wednesday confirmed the arrest of two former prime ministers as part of an investigation into abuse of power involving a large mining deal.
They have been investigated by the Independent Agency Against Corruption (IAAC), the country's top anti-corruption body, in the large mining deal signed between the government and Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto.
The agency detained Bayar Sanjaa, prime minister when Mongolian government signed the original 2009 investment agreement, as well as Saikhanbileg Chimed, prime minister when the financing arrangement of the deal was revised in 2015.
The prosecutor's office in the capital, Ulan Bator, said the two have been arrested Tuesday evening for charges of abuse of official power for preferential treatment in the investment agreement to develop the Oyu Tolgoi mine.
Earlier, the IAAC has arrested other former officials including a former finance minister and a former head of tax authority.
Currently, financing arrangements of the mining deal are under investigation by the IAAC and a parliamentary working group.

Source:Xinhua news agency
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Mongolia mining corruption probe snares former PM

Saikhanbileg Chimed the highest-ranking official implicated in investigation

By Lucy Hornby in Beijing, China


A Mongolian investigation into allegations of corrupt mining payments has ensnared a former prime minister who has been asked to return from the US to answer prosecutors’ questions. 

 Saikhanbileg Chimed, prime minister for two years until 2016, is the highest-ranking official to have been implicated in the probe, which dates from revelations in the leaked Panama Papers of transfers to a Swiss bank account in the name of Bayartsogt Sangajav, the former Mongolian finance minister. Swiss authorities froze the account in January. 

 Over the weekend, Mongolian authorities arrested Mr Bayartsogt and two other former officials with ties to Erdenes Mongol, the state-owned holding company set up to contain Mongolia’s shares in mining projects including the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine and the Tavan Tolgoi coking coal deposit. 
They also requested Mr Saikhanbileg return from the US. Mr Saikhanbileg could not be contacted for comment. 

Turquoise Hill, the Canada-listed subsidiary of Rio Tinto which is developing a $5bn underground stage of the Oyu Tolgoi mine, has previously said it received a request for more information by the Mongolian anti-corruption authorities. 

 The request for information concerned the “possible abuse of power by authorised officials” during the negotiation of the 2009 Oyu Tolgoi investment agreement, shortly after Rio took over negotiation of the Oyu Tolgoi project from Ivanhoe Mines, the original developer. 

 Mr Saikhanbileg signed the agreement to develop the second, underground phase of the mine, which economists said was necessary for the Mongolian government to meet its budgetary commitments. Negotiations over the first phase of the giant mine were also fraught, with rancour on both sides and repeated changes to Mongolia’s mining investment regime, once the most liberal in the world. 

 Swiss prosecutors have said the investigation was not directed against Rio or its employees. Rio Tinto declined to comment on Tuesday. 

 “The Mongolian government and public is slowly beginning to build up capacity to analyse its relationship with Oyu Tolgoi and with Rio Tinto as an investor and to ask questions about that relationship in the process,” said Julian Dierkes, an expert on Mongolian civil society at the University of British Columbia. 

 Mr Saikhanbileg’s departure from office in 2016 was marred by the contentious $400m purchase of nearly half of the giant Erdenet copper mine in Mongolia’s north from Russian holding company Rostec, which returned the entire mine to Mongolian ownership.



Erdenet long had symbolic value as the Soviet Union’s most important investment in Mongolia but has been plagued by allegations of mismanagement and corruption. The previously unknown private company that bought the stake, Mongolian Copper Corp, is fighting the Mongolian government’s decision in February 2017 to nationalise the stake bought from Rostec.

Bayanjargal Byambasaikhan, former chief executive of Erdenes Mongol, told the Financial Times in 2016 that the holding company would have trouble establishing control over the state’s share in Erdenet due to the complexity of the politics surrounding that mine. Mr Byambasaikhan was one of the people arrested this weekend. 

 In a statement on Tuesday, the Business Council of Mongolia, an organisation chaired by Mr Byambasaikhan, noted that he had returned to Mongolia from a posting at the Asian Development Bank in 2010, after the 2009 investment accord for the Oyu Tolgoi mine. “The BCM Executive Committee has full confidence in Byambasaikhan’s integrity,” it said.


Source:Financial Times
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