Kyrgyzstan detains ex-prime minister in mine corruption case

May 31, 2021, 12:57 PM | Updated: 3:49 pm

MOSCOW (AP) — Kyrgyzstan’s security services have detained a former prime minister in connection with an investigation of corruption involving the huge gold mine that is the country’s largest taxpayer.

A statement from the State Committee for National Security didn’t give details of the potential charges against Omurbek Babanov, who was prime minister in 2011-12.

Kyrgyz media reported that Asylbek Jeenbekov, a brother of the former president, also was detained Monday in the case.

The investigation centers on the Kumtor gold mine, which has long been a controversial operation in Kyrgyzstan because of alleged environmental violations and strong sentiment that the government should nationalize it.

In early May, the parliament passed a law allowing the state to take control of the mine for three months from its Canada-based operator Centerra and a court levied a $3 billion fine for environmental claims.

The mine accounts for more than 12% of the former Soviet Central Asian country’s economy, according to Centerra.

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Kyrgyzstan detains ex-prime minister in mine corruption case