Korea denies report on ex-Mongolian President’s exile
“We have not received any requests from Nambaryn Ennkhbayar seeking asylum here,” a Korea Immigration Service (KIS) official said on condition of anonymity. Ennkhbayar, 56, was convicted of corruption by Ulaanbaatar’s highest court in 2012 after serving his four-year presidential term from June 2005 to June 2009.
Seoul’s immigration office added that Ennkhbayar has been living in Korea since August of last year after the Mongolian government granted him a pardon, citing his “health.”
“Our records show he arrived in Korea at that time and has also traveled abroad back and forth since then,” an official at the refugee section of the KIS said.
“We can’t confirm whether he has visited Mongolia or not after staying here. We also can’t reveal whether his family is with him in Korea,” he added.
According to the JoongAng Ilbo, the former Mongolian President was sentenced to two-and-half years in jail in 2012 for illegally acquiring government-owned properties, including plants and hotels. The newspaper said Ennkhbayar and his family members owned these properties under their own names. It added that he and his family sought political asylum in Korea after the Mongolian government granted him a pardon.
Citing Ulaanbaatar media reports in September, JoongAng Ilbo reported that Ennkhbayar’s move is seen as a bid to dodge possible re-investigation over past corruption charges.
In 2005, Ennkhbayar was elected as the third President of the former communist country. He ran for his second presidency in 2009 but failed in his attempt.
The Independent Authority against Corruption under the Ulaanbaatar government arrested him in 2012 for corruption allegations involving government-owned real estate. He reportedly claimed such corruption was practiced as a “custom” among government officials.
He had close ties with former Korean Presidents ― the late Roh Moo-hyun and Lee Myung-bak ― during his presidential years.
As a Buddhist, Ennkhbayar also won prizes awarded by Korean Buddhist organizations in both 2006 and 2007 for his piety.
By Yi Whan-woo