D. Sugar: I was shocked at the money laundering case
The following interview is with D. Sugar, a member of the Constitutional Court; translated from Udriin Sonin. He was the former Head of State Property Committee, an administration that directly oversees MIAT.
-What can you tell us about the recent money laundering via MIAT?
-Looking at media reports, it seems that a very large group of frauds have been apprehended and a lot of other speculation is going on. I lay no blame on media,they have their duty to report news to the people.
-One of the prime suspects of the case is Ch. Khorolsuren – he is from the same Province as you. How well do you know him?
-Yes, he is from the same place as me. I felt that he is a powerful businessman and had good management skills to lead MIAT to better things. We looked into his background and he seemed like a competent employee so we hired him. I was close to him as he was a “brother” from my hometown. We worked together for many years and we know each other well.
-Did you know him even before that? Have you helped him get this position in MIAT?
-Yes, I did support him, because when I first came to MIAT he was the Vice Director there, but I fired him. I think he got himself right with the next Director because he was then rehired as the Director requested him personally so I approved it.
-So you approved him to be appointed in MIAT once again?
-Yes because by jurisdiction it is actually the decision of the Director of MIAT. They appointed him and asked for my approval and I simply said, “go ahead.” Of course, it is not only my approval that gets him his position, the whole committee discussed it.
-As the Head of State Property Committee, you have certain cooperation with Vice Presidents or Vice Directors of other State-owned companies. When the public looks at this, it seems like this connection had other benefits and interests.
-Well, he is a co-worker and we are related by family. I had met with his wife and his family and we have eaten together before. But, we have no business interests.
-Is Khorolsuren a wealthy man or did he suddenly become rich while working for the State?
-I understand that he was moderately wealthy to begin with. I also believe that he had a business that was running before he was appointed to MIAT.
-What about the private houses in foreign countries?
-I do not know anything about that.
-Do you have any of those?
-Is your family in Japan? People say that your children study in Japan and your wife lives in Japan.
-I have no children in Japan. My wife was treated at a hospital in Japan; I think that’s what people mistakenly understood.
-What kind of house do you live in now?
-I live in a house I had built in 2002.
-It is believed that Mongolian Airlines was established to privatize MIAT in the end. Is this true?
-I do not know anything about that. Ch. Khorolsuren was fired and he left. Then I heard he had established a private company.
-What can you tell us about money laundering through MIAT?
-I have no information on the money laundering case or any other companies that are affiliated with MIAT. There was no information about money laundering whatsoever and sometime in late 2011 and early 2012 we heard that there might be a money laundering activity going on at MIAT. Then we heard that authorities were investigating this criminal activity. We supported them and I appointed an investigator from the State Property Committee to aid in the investigation. I was relieved from my position in early 2012, thus I do not know anything about the whole affair since then.
I was very shocked when I heard about it. I was fired on January 10 at my own request. My duties were focused on Erdenes TavanTolgoi affairs at that time and I organized the distribution of 536 shares of Erdenes TavanTolgoi. I wanted to finish this job but it was halted andthat was the reason I voluntarily left my position.
-Do you know anything about results of the investigation?
-I do not know anything more about it, as I was relieved from my position.
-Currently, all the people who were arrested or are being questioned were on duty while you served as the Head of State Property Committee. Have the police questioned you?
-Are you expecting to be questioned?
-If I am asked to, I will happily oblige.
-How are you associated with Bat-Erdene?
-I hired him then fired him later. I know him and I have the tendency to become good friends with my colleagues, sowe had good relations.
-Does he know a lot about running businesses like Khorolsuren?
-From any point of view we look at it, you are definitely connected with this case. Everybody you worked with is associated with this.
-Well, people will probably think that I’m just justifying myself in the midst of all the guilty people. I don’t think people will believe me if I say I’m innocent. Information about me and this case is all over the public and it is too late to clean my name of this affair now.
Generally when somebody innocent gets involved in something like this, they start with “I am innocent, I am a victim of a political and business play.”
-You can say that – you have the right to explain yourself.
-I have no understanding of all that money and the crime whatsoever. I have no knowledge of the money laundering activity there.
Also, I do not possess any money made from the money laundering through MIAT. Whoever is in charge of this investigation should keep this in mind and make sure to check and investigate whatever they wish and they will know that I am right.
-Is it possible that you are absolutely innocent when a very serious crime involving so much money is directly connected with your former office?
-I could not say that because I am a responsible man and I know the meaning of responsibility. It is true, I was the one who; monitored, hired, rehired and fired officials of State-owned companies.
I was responsible for the operations of over 80 State-owned companies – from every move or good decision. I was responsible for them all, so I cannot say I am totally innocent of any wrongdoings.
I want to say that I am not involved in this scandal as the papers say I am. If the State requests my help in this case I will do so.
Nearly all of the previous Heads of the State Property Committee have been suspected of wrongdoings by the public and media,starting with; Z. Enkhbold. Zorigt whowas fired and L. Purevdorj who had a very difficult time, always being a prime target for many accusations and rumors, like me. But what can we do?
-Do you know how S. Bayar is connected to this case?
-I cannot answer for him. I think he would be connected to this crime in “my fashion.” According to the press it seems that mostly people from Khuvsgul – such as Orkhon and Bat-Erdene are connected with this, most likely because they assisted in money laundering.
-People at Sod-Mongol say that very expensive fuel is forced onto MIAT. What was your thought on this? Was there a chance to stop this obvious unfair act?
-I tried to stop this in many different ways. I even talked to the Minister of Roads and Transport at the time.
-Were there political backing to this unfair activity?
-Yes, I believe so.
-Have the people being questioned in this case have made contact with you lately?
-No. Several days ago Khorolsuren told me that he is going abroad for treatment.
-Didn’t one of the people questioned in the case mention you in some wrongdoings?
-No. They can’t because I have done nothing.
-It feels like there was a lot of; corruption, bribery and exploitation, whichwas being hidden during the previous Government.
-I do not understand it that way. Authorities shave their own objective.
-One man becomes suddenly very rich whilst working for the State. Doesn’t this surprise you?
-I never became that wealthy. Khorolsuren did have a business running before his appointment to that job.
-Personally, was it hard for you to deal with it when everything surfaced?
-Yes, very difficult. This event is even scary. I know how the press affects the public’s mind andcorrecting it is very hard. When they check what they require and talk to everybody they need to, there will be some results and it will take time to get those results. I will not deny that I had the responsibility to hire and fire these people and I won’t deny that I am related to those people. But I have nothing to do with the money laundering, I can tell you that.
-Didn’t you give Khorolsuren the idea to privatize MIAT through Mongolian Airlines?
-It is false that I ordered Khorolsuren to establish that company.
-Have you heard of the West Wealth Al Group, which only exists on paper?
-I never heard of that group, this is the first time I’m hearing of it.
-Didn’t you notice that there was a money laundering activity going on at MIAT during your time as the head of the State Property Committee?
-I did not notice that they were taking money in that way. Overall, we were working with a small profit and yield. We were always planning to change this.
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