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Federal prosecutors have filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn to seize two New York City apartments worth $14 million that were allegedly purchased with proceeds from a corrupt scheme involving Mongolia’s Erdenet Mining Corporation, former prime minister Sukhbaatar Batbold, and his son, Battushig Batbold. The lawsuit claims that during Batbold’s tenure as prime minister, he inserted a middleman with ties to himself into the relationship with commodity trading firm Ocean Partners, allowing him to siphon off millions of dollars for personal use, including the purchase of the luxury apartments in Manhattan. Batbold served as prime minister from 2009 to 2012 and is currently a member of the Mongolian parliament.

The lawsuit details $128 million in allegedly unlawful contracts granted by the state-owned mining company to shell companies that benefited Batbold and his family, including his son Battushig. Money from one of these contracts, a $30 million deal with Erdernet Mining, was transferred to a U.S. bank account controlled by Battushig Batbold through wire transfers referencing various personal expenses such as car payments, trips, school payments, and interior designers. Battushig Batbold, a Harvard Business School graduate and member of the International Olympic Committee, has worked in finance at firms such as Blackstone and Morgan Stanley.

The attorney representing Sukhbaatar Batbold and Battushig Batbold, Orin Snyder of Gibson Dunn, stated in an email that the claims filed in the lawsuit echo allegations that the clients had previously defeated in courts around the world. He alleges that these claims were part of a misinformation campaign designed to manipulate Mongolian democracy and were directed by Batbold’s opponents. The attorney asserts that Batbold is looking forward to defending himself against what he calls unfounded claims in court.

The lawsuit and allegations against Batbold and his son raise questions about potential corruption involving high-ranking officials in Mongolia and their family members. The suit alleges that the illegal contracts and money laundering scheme were used to benefit the Batbold family, allowing them to purchase luxury real estate in New York City and fund personal expenses through a network of shell companies. The involvement of a Harvard Business School graduate and member of the International Olympic Committee in these alleged activities further adds to the complexity and visibility of the case.

The involvement of a former prime minister and his son in a corruption scandal linked to a state-owned mining company highlights the challenges many countries face in combating corruption and ensuring transparency in government dealings. The allegations of siphoning off millions of dollars for personal use at the expense of the Mongolian state underscore the importance of robust oversight and accountability mechanisms to prevent public officials from abusing their power for personal gain. The case also illustrates the role of international financial transactions and wire transfers in facilitating money laundering and illicit activities, as well as the need for cross-border cooperation in investigating and prosecuting such crimes.

As the legal proceedings unfold and the defendants have the opportunity to present their defense, the case will likely attract significant attention from both the international community and the people of Mongolia. The outcome of this lawsuit could have far-reaching implications for the country’s efforts to combat corruption and strengthen governance systems to prevent similar abuses of power in the future. It serves as a reminder of the importance of holding public officials accountable for their actions and ensuring that the rule of law is upheld to protect the interests of the citizens they are supposed to serve.

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