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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