A U.S. businessman who says he is being prevented from leaving Mongolia, where he is considered a potential witness in a corruption case, has asked for help from the congressional delegation in his home state of Minnesota.
Justin Kapla is president and executive director of SouthGobi Sands LLC, a Mongolian mining company. He asked delegation members for assistance in lifting his travel ban, which he said was imposed because investigators consider him a witness in a corruption investigation of government officials involving the transfer of some of his company’s minerals exploration licenses.
Justin Kapla, wrote that the events in question happened well before he went to work for SouthGobi Sands. He said the Mongolian agency conducting the investigation, the Authority Against Corruption, has acknowledged that but told him he still couldn’t leave because it would need to hold someone responsible if the investigation finds any wrongdoing by the company.
Amid the ferment, the anti-corruption authority began investigating the government’s Mineral Resources Authority and its former chairman, Dorjpurev Batkhuyag. Batkhuyag was accused of bribery and other corruption. He was convicted this week and sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison.
Among Batkhuyag’s misdeeds, the authority alleged, were dealings with SouthGobi Sands. Five of the company’s licenses were to have been suspended because the company failed to spend sufficient funds exploring the areas, but instead Batkhuyag’s office returned most of the licenses to SouthGobi and transferred one to a private Mongolian company controlled by friends.
Mongolia’s anti-corruption authority declined public comment on Kapla or when the exit controls might be lifted.