Mongolia’s anti-corruption authority announced Tuesday that former President Khaltmaagiin Battulga is being investigated in a coal theft case that began in the wake of a large-scale demonstration in the capital, Ulaanbaatar, early last week.
The Independent Authority Against Corruption of Mongolia (IAAC) announced at a news conference that Battulga, in addition to 15 other notable figures, including former ministers and current MPs, were contacted and courts will decide their crimes.
“The following officials participated in coal mining, transportation, and procurement of goods and services with state-owned assets,” said M. Davaatogtoh, deputy head of the investigative department of the IAAC.
Davaatogtoh said a joint investigation related to coal mining and its sale and transportation was underway by the General Intelligence Agency of Mongolia and the National Police Agency.
“Investigations are underway in a total of 22 cases. During the investigation, 47 objects were searched, 15 people were arrested, and 10 people were detained,” he said. “In order to speed up the investigation, a sub-working group was also established at the IAAC. So far, 35 people have been charged.”
Separately, the IAAC published information about transactions conducted by state-owned companies, Erdenes-Tavantolgoi JSC and Tavantolgoi Railway, which amount to 633 contracts between Jan. 1, 2018, and Dec. 1, 2022.
“[Eleven] cases of investigation and 7 cases of investigation are currently being opened and investigations are being carried out in connection with the problems of giving advantage to others, taking bribes, and getting rich without reason during the construction of the coal transportation railway,” according to a statement.
Mongolia’s Cabinet of Ministers decided Monday to place Tavantolgoy Railway under direct control of the government and introduce a “special regime” for the company for six months.
Several hundred people braved freezing temperatures in Ulaanbaatar to protest corruption in the coal industry and the country’s ailing economy, with some trying to storm government buildings Dec. 4.