Asia in Review Archive
Date of AiR edition
9 July 2019
Mongolia: Concerns over dismissal of judges
(dql) Transparency International expressed extreme concerns over the dismissal of 17 judges two weeks ago by the Judiciary Council and National Security Council. The judges, accused of corruption, were dismissed on the basis of amendments to the laws governing the judiciary and anti-corruption agency adopted in an emergency session of the parliament in March, at a time when two-thirds of Mongolia’s 76 lawmakers were investigated over allegations of embezzlement of public funds. [Transparency International] [AiR 1/4/2019]
4 June 2019
Mongolia: Protesters demand government to step down
(dql) Thousands of government-critical protesters took to the streets of Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, last week and demanded the resignation of the leadership over corruption allegations and failure to revive the country’s struggling economy.
Mongolia was plunged into an economic crisis in 2016 over disputes with foreign investors like mining giant Rio Tinto, government overspending and slipping commodity prices from which the country has not recovered yet. Government pledges of large spending on infrastructure, social services and housing based on foreign investment have remained unmaterialised. [Reuters]
4 December 2018
Mongolia: Government survives no-confidence vote
(dql) Last week a no-confidence vote against Prime Minister Ukhnaa Khurelsukh and his cabinet government was launched in parliament but narrowly failed to oust the government after 40 out of the attending 73 lawmakers in the 76-seat parliament voted against the motion and 33 for the motion. [Xinhua 1]
The motion was submitted by 27 lawmakers of the ruling Mongolian People’s Party (MPP), which holds 65 seats, over a scandal pertaining to financial irregularities which involves members of parliament and government suspected of receiving a number of loans with low interest rates from a fund that serves small and medium-sized enterprises. [The Guardian] [AiR 3/11/2018]
In a latest development, three lawmakers of the Mongolia’s opposition Democratic Party (9 seats) were expelled or banned for four years to compete in elections for cross-voting in the motion. [Xinhua 2]
20 November 2018
Mongolia: Government under pressure over loan scandal
(dql) Prime Minister Ukhnaa Khurelsukh is facing pressure over allegations that cabinet members received low-interest loans for business controlled by them or their family members. More than a dozen parliament members and police officials are believed to be also implicated in this scandal. According to the Mongolian National Chamber of Commerce and Industry over 3,500 member companies vowed to withhold tax payments until the scandal is resolved. [Nikkei Asian Review]
In a latest development of the scandal, legislator Damdin Khayankhyarvaa from the ruling People’s Party submitted a proposal to dismiss the government over the scandal. The proposal was signed by 27 of the 76 members of parliament in which the People’s Party holds 65 seats. [Xinhua]
13 November 2018
Mongolia: High-profile corruption case under investigation
(dql) Mongolia’s anti-corruption authority is investigating a high-profile corruption case involving government ministers, members of parliament, the general prosecutor, the general auditor, and the former head of the intelligence authority who – according to leaked reports – channeled more than 1 million USD of a 25 million USD government fund to their families and friends. The fund was set up 18 years ago to offer government loans at 3 per cent interest to owners of small and medium-sized enterprises, compared to banks and finance companies charging between 12 and 30 per cent. Pressured by these reports, Food, Agriculture and Light Industry Minister Batjargal Batzorig, who oversaw the SME fund, resigned. [South China Morning Post]
15 April 2018
Mongolia: Former PM’s arrested over corruption case
(dql) In the context of an investigation into a copper mine joint venture in 2009 and 2015, Mongolia’s anti-corruption agency arrested two former Prime Ministers on suspicion of misuse of power: Bayar Sanj, Prime Minister at the time of the signing of the original investment deal in 2009, and Saikhanbileg Chimed, Prime Minister at the time the agreement on the expansion of the mine was sealed in 2015. [Reuters]
Prior to the high-level arrests, a former finance minister had alraedy been detained. [AiR 2/4/2018]
8 April 2018
Mongolia: Arrests in high-profile graft probe
(dql) Mongolia’s Independent Authority Against Corruption announced this week the arrest of former Finance Minister Bayartsogt Sangajav in the frame of an investigation into alleged abuse of power in the context of investment talks for the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine, Mongolia’s giant mining joint venture between Turquoise Hill Resources, a majority owned subsidiary of Anglo-Australian Rio Tinto, and the Mongolian Government with the former holding 66% ownership and the latter 34%.
The arrest of Bayartsogt comes amid an ongoing criminal investigation of the Swiss Office of the Attorney General into a seized bank account which according to court documents had been used to transfer 10 million USD to Bayartsogt in September 2008 who on behalf of Mongolia signed an agreement with Canadian Ivanhoe Mines in 2009 to develop the giant mine. [Reuters]
In a related investigation into a 2015 financing deal for the mine’s underground expansion between Turquoise Hill, Rio Tinto and the government of Mongolia former Mongolian Prime Minister Saikhanbileg Chimed, in office for two years until 2016, has been asked to return from the US to justify himself to the prosecutors while the former chief executive of the state-owned entity holding Mongolia’s stake in Oyu Tolgoi, who signed the deal, and the former director general of the General Department of Taxation were arrested. [Financial Times]
17 November 2017
Bleak outlook for the Mongolia’s future
In office since October, Prime Minister U Khurelsukh is lacking a consistent agenda and strategy to fight corruption and to enhance the civil service and judiciary, the root causes for Mongolia’s current political crisis reflected by three governments within two years. Caught up with factionalism within his ruling Mongolian People’s Party, he will fail to lead the country out of this crisis, Julian Dierkes and Mendee Jargalsaikhan predict in this article [East Asia Forum].
6 October 2017
New Mongolian Prime Minister
Following the impeachment of Jargaltulgiin Erdenebat and his cabinet on grounds of corruption weeks ago, Deputy Prime Minister Ukhnaagiin Khurelsukh has been elected as new Prime Minister by the ruling Mongolia People’s Party [The Straits Times].
18 August 2017
For Mongolia’s new president is Mongolia first and China last
Mongolia’s new President Khaltmaa Battulga won the presidential election with a nationalistic, anti-China campaign. Since more than a month in office, a core issue and challenge of his administration will be to balance the relation-ships of Mongolia with Russia and China [East Asia Forum].