Bloomberg News

Former Mongolian President Granted Bail After Hunger Strike

May 14, 2012

Former Mongolian President Nambaryn Enkhbayar

A file photo showing former Mongolian President Nambaryn Enkhbayar, during an interview in Hong Kong in 2008. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

Former Mongolian President Nambaryn Enkhbayar, who was granted bail yesterday, will remain hospitalized to get medical treatment after refusing water for 10 days to protest his detention on corruption charges.

Enkhbayar ended the hunger strike now that bail has been granted and will be moved to an intensive care unit, his son Batshugar said in an e-mail. The Sukhbaatar District Court’s decision was confirmed by Mongolia prisons service spokesman T. Amarsaikhan.

Enkhbayar’s arrest last month, ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for June in which he planned to participate, raised investor concerns over an economy that is China’s biggest coking coal supplier. He and his family said the detention -- on charges dating as far back as 2000 -- was an attempt by the government to sideline him from power.

“Doctors are very worried about his health recover and all hope the process will go smoothly,” Batshugar Enkhbayar wrote in an e-mail yesterday. “My father is still facing politically motivated false allegations that he needs to fight.”

Lawyers for Enkhbayar, who served as president of one of the world’s fastest-growing economies until 2009, had lodged another bail application with the office of the State Prosecutor General yesterday, Batshugar Enkhbayar said.

Television Equipment

Peter Goldsmith, a partner at New York-based Debevoise & Plimpton LLP who was employed by the family to help with Enkhbayar’s case, said the charges against Enkhbayar included stealing a donation of television equipment valued at $113,000 that was meant to go to a Buddhist monastery in 2000 and not paying duties to ship eight volumes of a book he authored from South Korea to Mongolia.

The detention “appears to be arbitrary” and breaches human rights standards, London-based human rights group Amnesty International said, according to a statement released May 12.

Sed-Ayushjav Batzaya, a spokeswoman for President Tsakhia Elbegdorj’s office, referred all questions to the prisons service.

Enkhbayar had been summoned for questioning 10 times over two years and never showed up, Vice Finance Minister Ganhuyag Chuluun Hutagt said in e-mailed comments May 12.

“There’s no way to prove or disprove if he has committed corruption if he doesn’t show up,” Hutagt said in the e-mail.

Hutagt acknowledged that the arrest “probably” was not handled well. “But we’re learning from this,” he said. “We don’t have experience of arresting ex-presidents.”

Organ Failure

Enkhbayar was hospitalized May 9 after beginning to suffer organ failure and refused treatment by Mongolian doctors because he said they were under the sway of the government, his son Batshugar said. With the help of his lawyers, he blocked a police move to force-feed him on May 11, according to his son.

Prime minister from 2000 to 2004 and president from 2005 to 2009, Enkhbayar had sought to boost trade with western nations and distance the country from neighbors Russia and China. The country, which emerged from Communist rule in 1990, saw economic growth of 17.3 percent in 2011, with similar gains forecast for 2012, as foreign investors tapped its reserves of coal, copper and gold.

Enkhbayar was named head of the Mongolian People’s Revolutionary Party after it split from the ruling Mongolian People’s Party last year. He had strong support in the countryside and would probably have attracted enough votes to form a coalition government with either the MPP or the Democratic Party, according to Oliver Belfitt-Nash, head of research at Ulan Bator-based brokerage Monet Capital LLC.

“All arrows point toward heightened Mongolia risk in a time of economic and political uncertainty,” Belfitt-Nash wrote in a note to investors last week. “For the Mongolia bulls, the buy opportunities are flashing red.”

Enkhbayar’s son said his father, whose party is planning to contest every seat in Mongolia’s parliament in the June elections, denied all the charges against him.

To contact the reporter on this story: Yuriy Humber in Tokyo at yhumber@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net


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