Mongolia ex-PM bought NYC flats with corrupt funds - US

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Sukhbaatar BatboldImage source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Sukhbaatar Batbold was prime minister of Mongolia from 2009-2012

Mongolia's former prime minister bought two luxury apartments in New York City with the proceeds of a corrupt scheme, US authorities have alleged.

Prosecutors are seeking to seize the prime real estate in midtown Manhattan, worth a total of $14m (£11m).

They allege Sukhbaatar Batbold, who served as PM from 2009-2012, bought the flats after his family-controlled firm was awarded a major mining contract.

Mining is the key industry in Mongolia. Mr Batbold has denied the accusations.

The Mongolian politician, 60, still sits in parliament.

"Mr. Batbold looks forward to his day in court, when he will have the opportunity to defend himself against these unfounded claims," said his lawyer Orin Snyder in a statement reported by Reuters.

US federal prosecutors say he purchased two apartments just blocks away from Central Park, one at The Carlton House, a building just one block away on East 61st Street, and a condo unit in the The Park Imperial, a 70-storey glass skyscraper, just a few doors down from Carnegie Hall.

Image source, GOOGLE

Image caption,

Google Maps street view of The Carlton House in midtown Manhattan

They have accused him of "funnelling millions of dollars from mining contracts through illegitimate shell companies to finance his family's lavish lifestyle".

"Batbold's alleged behavior - personally profiting off of public corruption comes at the expense of the law-abiding citizens he governed," said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge James Smith.

US prosecutors say when Mr Batbold was prime minister, a company he controlled through intermediaries was awarded a $68m mining contract despite the firm, known as Catrison, having no pre-existing mining operations or history. Its sole director was a former linguistics teacher.

Millions of dollars from that mining contract and others was then siphoned into foreign bank accounts, and moved through shell companies. Some of that money was spent on the purchase of the Manhattan flats, US prosecutors said.

Their court claim says one of the apartments was used by Mr Batbold's eldest son, who listed the address as his postal address in the US.

Mr Batbold is not facing charges himself; but the properties could be subject to forfeiture by the state if prosecutors' claims are ruled valid by a court.

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