Swiss Prosecutor’s investigation exposes former Mongolian minister

On 2 March 2018, the Swiss Supreme Court confirmed the sequestration of $1.85 million in a Swiss account belonging to Mongolian businessman and parliamentarian Delgersaikhan Borkhuu. Borkhuu is suspected of having participated in the payment of bribes to a former finance minister of Ulaanbaatar, Bayartsogt Sangajav, in 2008.

Bayartsogt Sangajav had resigned as speaker of the Mongolian parliament in 2013 when his name appeared in the Offshore Leaks operation led by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

His account with Credit Suisse, held in the name of Legend Plus Capital Ltd, had been revealed in the media while he served as his country’s finance minister from 2008 to 2012. At first, his resignation and public apology seemed to be enough to bury the matter in the land of the Steppes.

The opening of an investigation in August 2016 by the Office of the Office of the Attorney General (AOG) has made it possible today to go further into the well-buried secrets of the Mongolian mining sector.

Launched against an unknown person on suspicion of money laundering, the origin of the Swiss investigation has not yet been revealed.

In January 2017, however, the Tribune de Genève reported on the efforts of two Mongolian women, lawyer Tsedev Tuyatsetseg and environmental activist Tseren Enebish, representatives of the Mongolian Association of Environmental Lawyers (MAL). The article explained that the two women were trying to trace the money pocketed by the former finance minister, predicting that their fight “may soon bounce back in Switzerland”.

Three months after the opening of the investigation, the MPC had $1.85 million frozen in an account belonging to Delgersaikhan Borkhuu, a businessman, mine owner and Mongolian parliamentarian.

The ruling of 2 March reveals that in 2007 and 2008 Delgersaikhan Borkhuu had received 45 million dollars in its Swiss account from an undisclosed “Chinese investor”.

Delgersaikhan Borkhuu in turn allegedly paid 8.2 million euros into Bayartsogt Sangajav’s Swiss account in September 2008, the month he took office as Finance Minister.

A few months later, in 2009, Bayartsogt Sangajav signed an agreement with the Anglo-Australian group Rio Tinto, giving it access to a major copper and gold deposit in the Gobi Desert.

In an article published on 28 March 2018, the Financial Times quotes a letter from the MPC stating that to date Rio Tinto is not under investigation in connection with these transactions.

For its part, Delgersaikhan Borkhuu has appealed against the freezing of its account. The appeal was rejected by the Federal Criminal Court on 9 November 2016. The judges upheld the first decision, citing the “very suspicious” nature of these payments to a minister who had just taken office. According to the Court, these money flows are “typical” of a money laundering scheme.

Delgersaikhan Borkhuu is represented by Remo Busslinger and Manuel Bader of the law firm Streichenberg.

Document related to this article:
Federal Court Judgment of 2 March 2018 (Delgersaikhan Borkhuu)