Two former prime ministers of Mongolia arrested for alleged abuse of power
(FILE) Mongolian Prime Minister Sanj Bayar during his meeting with Russia's President Vladimir Putin (not pictured) in Moscow, Russia, Apr. 11, 2008. EPA-EFE/VLADIMIR RODIONOV RIA NOVOSTI/KREMLIN POOL
(FILE) Chimed Saikhanbileg, Prime Minister of Mongolia, delivers a speech during the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting Finance Ministers' Meeting (ASEM FinMM12) in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, Jun. 10, 2016. EPA-EFE/DAVAANYAM DELGERJARGAL
(FILE) A photograph made available Sep. 30, 2010 shows a detonation at the Oyu Tolgoi copper mine in the South Gobi desert in Mongolia Sep. 27, 2010. EPA-EFE/ADRIAN BRADSHAW
China, Apr 11 (efe-epa).- Two former prime ministers of Mongolia have been arrested for alleged abuse of power for agreements signed between the Central Asian country and foreign mining firms for the exploration of the Oyu Tolgoi mine, one of the country's biggest mines, official news agency Montsame said Wednesday.
Bayar Sanj, who was prime minister between 2007-2009, and Saikhanbileg Chimed, who was head of government between 2014-2016, were detained by the authorities on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Mongolian prosecutors asked for their period of detention to be extended.
The two former leaders were arrested during an investigation by the country's Independent Authority against Corruption into negotiations conducted by the government in 2009 and 2015 for the exploration of the mine.
These negotiations ended in agreements for the exploitation of copper mines by Anglo-Australian mining company Rio Tinto with financing by Canadian company Ivanhoe Mines.
Former finance minister Bayartsogt Sangajav and former Director of the Mongolian Tax Administration B. Ariunsan were also arrested as part of the probe, among other senior officials.
The Oyu Tolgoi mines, located in the Gobi Desert, were discovered in 2001 and their exploration began in 2010.
They are estimated to contain 2.7 million tons of copper reserves and 1.7 million ounces of gold reserves.