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Ex-Mongolian president arrested in corruption probe

ULAN BATOR, Mongolia -- Scores of police arrested Mongolia's former president, raiding a house in the capital at dawn Friday after he refused investigators' summons to answer questions about corruption charges, law enforcement officials said.

Anti-corruption investigators initially tried to arrest Enkhbayar Nambar on Thursday night. They stopped the former president's car but were foiled by his bodyguards who took him to a nearby compound, setting up a standoff that ended with the raid, police said.

Now an opposition politician, Enkhbayar was a formidable figure in the robust democracy of Mongolia, a resource-rich but largely poor country between China and Russia. Serving as prime minister and then president for most of a decade until losing office in 2009, he presided over a period of robust growth but also a widening wealth gap and, critics said, runaway corruption.

Enkhbayar was arrested for questioning in a serious corruption case, the head of the Independent Agency Against Corruption, E. Ambarbat, told reporters. Though he did not elaborate, the agency said the corruption involved the illegal privatization of a government-owned hotel.

“We have been investigating the corruption case involving Enkhbayar for a year. However, he never showed up for questioning. We had asked him often to come for questioning,” Ambarbat said.

While he and other authorities said the arrest was legal, having been backed by a court order, Enkhbayar's supporters said it violated the former president's immunity and was politically motivated.

After narrowly losing re-election as president in 2009, Enkhbayar had formed a new opposition party and was contesting a parliament seat in June elections.

April 14, 2012    jonathanneyhan@
This is an absolute joke. Firstly, Enkhbayar was unarguably a central figure in the transformation of Mongolia from a miserable communism to a true democracy. Communism ended in Mongolia in the early ninety's, and from that point onwards, a few names must be remembered who led the transformation from communism to a commendable democracy not seen even in more developed countries; Enkhbayar's name tops that list; this is just a globally acknowledged fact. The country owes him for that. Second of all, nobody in their right mind believes that Enkhbayar was summoned by the so-called Anti Corruption Agency for 1 whole year and he just "didn't show up!". Why would he not? He is in the country isn't he? And has been there and been there actively. If he wanted to avoid his alleged "corruption being exposed", he would've and could've fled. Third of all, what are the chances that he gets arrested 1 month before the elections where he would've almost surely secured a parliament seat? What are the chances of him being arrested shortly after he released embarrassing data about what Truly happened in the 2008 riots?! Someone clearly wants to silence him. Fourth of all, his arrest was unconstitutional because he was under the state's immunity, which lasts 4 years post his presidential tenure.
The biggest regret of it all, is that all what is happening now completely defies and negates democracy; and democracy is what Enkhbayar spent 20 years building for Mongolia!
April 18, 2012    philchips@
The previous comment is full of it: In August 2007, the City Council formed the state owned Urgoo Hotel. 10 days after the formation, the Governor of Ulaanbaatar Ts. Batbayar transferred 75% of the shares worth 137 million MNT to a private company called Khar dun. B. Khuyag who is the brother of the Deputy Assistant of N.Enkhbayar, B.Tulga, owns Khar dun. He has evaded investigation and his whereabouts are still unknown. Not long after, the Pemif Company claimed the Urgoo Hotel, worth 1.2 billion MNT, through a filing made by Batshugar who is the son of N. Enkhbayar. The administration of the Ulaanbaatar Times was privatized, but the owners did not fulfill their responsibilities, and sold a property worth 2.1 billion MNT for 369.7 million MNT to a management team lead by Do. Chuluunbaatar invested by the Media Holdings Division of Escon, owned by N. Enkhtuya, who is N. Enkhbayar’s sister. In 2000 when he was the head of a minority group in Parliament, N. Enkhbayar kept media equipment donated by the Japanese Buddhist community intended to spread the word of Buddha. The equipment was worth USD 113,000 and sent it instead to TV9.Furthermore, Enkhbayar tried, with a person named J. Myagmarjargal, to commit fraud by creating a contract to supply steel from Erdenet to Helon Company Ltd and the Great Global International, located in Hong Kong. Enkhbayar himself directed the contract, which caused USD 3.3 million worth of damage to Erdenet.
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