Home Investing News Mongolia ex-PM bought NYC apartments with embezzled mining money, US says

Mongolia ex-PM bought NYC apartments with embezzled mining money, US says


By Luc Cohen

NEW YORK (Reuters) -The U.S. is seeking to forfeit two New York City apartments bought by a former Mongolian prime minister with stolen mining funds, prosecutors said on Tuesday, as U.S. officials crack down on money laundering in high-end real estate.

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn said former Prime Minister Sukhbaatar Batbold and his family bought the two midtown Manhattan apartments for a total of $14 million in 2012 and 2015.

They said the money came from a $68 million mining contract awarded to Hong Kong-registered Catrison Limited in 2011 to buy copper concentrates from the Erdenet copper mine in Mongolia, one of the biggest in Asia.

Catrison had no mining experience and was controlled by Batbold through trusted intermediaries, prosecutors said.

“Batbold used the profits from his illicit corruption scheme to purchase high-end real estate in violation of United States federal law,” Breon Peace, the top federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, said in a statement.

Batbold served as Mongolia’s prime minister from 2009 to 2012 and is currently serving in the country’s parliament.

His lawyers said in a 2020 court filing in a separate civil case that Batbold had no property in New York.

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

Batbold has not been charged with a crime.

The U.S. Treasury Department in February formally proposed a long-awaited plan aimed at curbing the flow of illicit funds through American real estate markets. Officials say as much as $2.3 billion was laundered through U.S. real estate between 2015 and 2020.

Prosecutors said shell companies controlled by a member of Catrison’s board bought an apartment at the Park Imperial building on West 56th St. for $3.9 million in 2012. Batbold’s son used the apartment as his mailing address when opening a U.S. bank account the following year, prosecutors said.

Batbold’s son is also listed as a “co-owner” of an apartment in Carlton House on East 61st St., which was bought by another company controlled by the Catrison board member for $9.9 million in 2015, according to prosecutors.

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