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Monday, June 9, 2014
Headlines in Italic are ones modified by Cover Mongolia from original
SGQ/1878 closed +3.13% to C$0.66, flat at HK$4.6 Friday. Cover Mongolia broke the news first, here.
Mongolia Miner SouthGobi Resources Filing Indicates Pending Sale
By Michael Kohn
June 6 (Bloomberg) The sale of Hong Kong-listed SouthGobi Resources Ltd. (SGQ), a Mongolia coal miner, may be agreed by June 30, according to a filing by the company on June 3.
PML last traded A$0.017 Thursday
Parmelia Announced Rights Issue of Options to Raise A$160,645
June 6 -- Parmelia Resources Limited (ASX:PML) (Parmelia or Company) is pleased to announce that it will conduct a pro rata non-renounceable rights issue of options on the basis of 1 new option for every 2 shares held as at the record date at $0.005 per new option to raise up to $160,645 before costs (Rights Issue).
The Company will also issue up to 5,000,000 new options to consultants (to be determined by the directors of the Company) at no cost as consideration for services provided to the Company (Consultant Issue).
The new options issued under the Rights Issue and Consultants Issue will be exercisable at $0.05 on or before 5.00pm (WST) on 30 May 2017. The Company has, by lodging the attached Appendix 3B, applied for quotation of the new options issued under the Rights Issue and Consultant Issue on ASX.
The Rights Issue and Consultant Issue do not require shareholder approval. The new options under the Consultant Issue will be issued using the Company's 15% placement capacity under Listing Rule 7.1.
The directors of Parmelia reserve the right to place any shortfall under the Rights Issue at their discretion, provided that the shortfall will be placed at the same price as the new options are issued under the Rights Issue and will be completed not more than 3 months after the Rights Issue closes.
The Rights Issue is only open to Parmelia shareholders with registered addresses within Australia and New Zealand at the record date (Eligible Shareholders). The Company intends to lodge a prospectus with ASIC and ASX on or about 13 June 2014 in respect of the Rights Issue and Consultant Issue (Prospectus), which will be sent to Eligible Shareholders together with a personalised application form on or about 24 June 2014. If the Prospectus is lodged on 13 June 2014, the record date for the Rights Issue will be 19 June 2014.
The funds raised under the Rights Issue will be used for further exploration on the Company's existing projects, general working capital and the costs of the Rights Issue and Consultant Issue.
Shareholders should read the Prospectus in full and seek advice from their professional advisers before deciding whether to participate in the Rights Issue.
The proposed timetable for the Rights Issue and Consultant Issue is as follows.
MNP Petroleum Agrees to Cancel Consulting Agreement
BAAR, SWITZERLAND--(Marketwired - Jun 6, 2014) - MNP Petroleum (TSX VENTURE: MNP) (OTCQB: MNAP) announces that it has agreed with Undiscovered Equities Inc. to terminate, effective June 3, 2014 and for the mutual convenience of the parties, a consulting agreement dated June 18, 2013. The terminated agreement provided for the performance, by Undiscovered Equities, of investor relations services in the United States.
Neither TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.
1733 closed -2.6% to HK$0.375 Friday, -19.35% YTD
Winsway Coking Coal Holdings AGM Approves Name Change to Winsway Enterprises Holdings
June 6, Winsway Coking Coal Holdings Ltd. (HKEx:1733) -- The Board is pleased to announce that at the Annual General Meeting held on Friday, 6 June 2014, all the resolutions as set out in the Notice of Annual General Meeting were duly passed by the Shareholders by way of poll.
The Change of Company Name will be effective from the date of issuance by The Registry of Corporate Affairs in the British Virgin Islands of a certificate of the change of the name of the Company.
TRQ closed -2.32% to US$3.79 Friday
De Facto: Is Rio Tinto our friend?
By Jargalsaikhan Dambadarjaa
June 8 (UB Post) Oyu Tolgoi, Mongolia's biggest copper-gold mine, employs 7,000 Mongolians and 400 expatriates. However, 300 of them were laid off last week. If you count the other 1,700 people who were let go ten months ago, approximately 2,000 people (10,000 people if their families are taken into account) lost their source of income within one year. In a letter that was circulated internally, Craig Kinnell, Oyu Tolgoi's Chief Executive Officer, said that workforce reduction was a part of the lifecycle of a mining business and there was an urgent need to reduce costs. N.Altankhuyag, the Prime Minister of Mongolia, also explained to the media that Rio Tinto was reducing its operational costs by one billion USD globally.
Mongolia is going through an economic recession as the tugrug rate has declined by 30 percent and commodity prices have increased by 50 percent. The government quickly developed a 100-day action plan to revive the economy, support the mining industry, and restart OyuTolgoi's underground development as soon as possible. However, the fact that OyuTolgoi's workforce reduction happened only ten days after the announcement of this action plan shows that Rio Tinto is not our friend, but a partner. A friend is someone who puts his own interests aside to help you, while a partner is someone who prioritizes his interests and only works with you to achieve business objectives.
When the tugrug declines suddenly, there is an increase in the prices of goods and services purchased in Mongolia. Therefore, it is a normal thing for businesses to reduce their workforce so that they can decrease their payroll costs, which comprise half of most operating costs. Rio Tinto operates to generate profits and is obliged to give value to its shareholders. Also, as a company listed on international stock exchanges, their executive management works to achieve those goals and makes final decisions on how many people to employ and whether to carry out a workforce reduction. If the executive management fails to make good decisions about the workforce and produce profits, they get replaced. If required, Rio Tinto will make reductions to its workforce again.
A law was passed to allow the Government of Mongolia to own 34 percent of strategic deposits, and three people from the government were appointed to Oyu Tolgoi's board of directors. The other shareholder who owns 66 percent of the strategic deposit appoints their executive management to be in charge of the implementation of the project. Despite owning one third of the business, our government has been treating Rio Tinto like a friend rather than seeing them a business partner. The government has been asking Rio Tinto to borrow money and used it for political purposes. When doing so, there were times that the government coerced Rio Tinto to do something and begged them afterwards to make up for it. However, there is no room for friendship in business. There is only partnership. The current economic recession and the realization of the difference between a friend and a partner are teaching Mongolians several important lessons.
1. A MARKET ECONOMY HAS CYCLES
Unlike a centrally planned economy, a market economy has its own economic cycles. The economy can grow consistently, diminish suddenly, decline gradually, or improve unexpectedly for the short and long term. We call these intervals "economic cycles". Dependent on internal and external factors of economic development, economic growth can be sustained when there is a balanced ratio between value creation, supply, and demand. Such a ratio is set by government policy and the availability of raw material, labor, and financial resources. After some time, the balanced ratio gets disrupted and economic growth slows down. Unless accurate measures are taken, the decline lasts for quite some time until there is a balanced ratio set again. The pace and extent of economic cycles, such as growth and decline, are found to be different in every country. For example, the annual growth of Mongolia's economy was -9.3 percent in 1992, 6.5 on average in 1995-2010, 17.6 percent in 2011, 12.4 percent in 2012, and 11.7 percent in 2013.
2. DUTCH DISEASE
Our economy has become highly dependent on mining. Mining is an industry where there is a strong likelihood that you will not find anything after spending an enormous amount of money for exploration. If you do find a mineral deposit, a huge, long-term investment is required to purchase necessary equipment, start mining, and commence sales after processing. It is an industry that creates the least number of jobs per million dollars of investment. The end users are heavy industries, thus, the mining industry is directly dependent on the international prices of mineral products. Therefore, nations attempt to develop knowledge, or labor-based industries, rather than becoming dependent on a single industry like mining. Mongolians are talking about it a lot instead of actually doing something. We are currently on the brink of catching Dutch Disease.
3. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A SEMI-DEMOCRACY
Effective cooperation between the government and the private sector is essential to managing economic cycles and diversifying the economy. Holding free and fair elections can be viewed as a job half done to establish a fully democratic society. The job can only be completed when society becomes able to provide oversight on governance and fix it when necessary. A market economy can only be fully applied when there is a true democracy, not a semi-democracy.
Today, Mongolians are not incapable of accomplishing the other half. The government is also reluctant about the idea of having public oversight and has spent too many years avoiding any meaningful actions about it. This is why our economy is facing a recession (To read more, please visit the article "Fake Democracy" on www.jargaldefacto.com/fake-democracy/).
4. NEED FOR MARKET EXPANSION
A country with a small market, such as Mongolia, can enter a larger market by producing some core parts of a product if it is not capable of making end products that are internationally competitive. The only way to achieve great progress is to have high productivity. However, we need to fully understand that higher productivity is created by market competition, not the government.
5. ROLE OF GOVERNMENT
As the government provides more soft loans, sets more prices, and gets more involved in business, the economic recession is lasting longer. The reality demonstrates that more government involvement in the mining industry leads to a longer decline. Would it not be better if the government set operational standards regarding safety and environment, ensured their implementation, and received royalties instead of owning shares in a mining project and using taxpayer money to make investments?
MSE Trading Report, June 6: Top 20 +0.03% to 15,574.89, Turnover ₮8 Million
June 6 (MSE) -- Actively traded securities by value: MATERIALIMPEX (₮3,875,000), BAYANGOL HOTEL (₮1,196,000), SHIVEE OVOO (₮1,181,900), KHUKH GAN (₮744,180), GOBI (₮609,035).
MSE Weekly Review, June 2-6: Top 20 +5.13% to 15,574.89, Turnover ₮132.8 Million
Ulaanbaatar, June 6 (MONTSAME) Five stock trades were held at Mongolia's Stock Exchange June 2-6, 2014.
In overall, 95 thousand and 090 shares were sold of 61 joint-stock companies totaling MNT 132 million 754 thousand and 808.48.
"Mongolia Development" /22 thousand and 340 units/, "APU" /16 thousand and 312 units/, "Remikon" /14 thousand and 180 units/, "Hermes center" /14 thousand units/ and "Khokh gan" /7,020 units/ were the most actively traded in terms of trading volume, in terms of trading value--"APU" (MNT 57 million 731 thousand and 675), "Mongolia Development" (MNT 15 million and 638 thousand), "Darkhan nekhii" /MNT seven million 906 thousand and 800/, "UB-BUK" /MNT six million and 600 thousand/ and "Shivee ovoo" (MNT six million 519 thousand and 040).
BoM MNT Rates: Friday, June 6 Close
June MNT Chart:
Inter-Bank Small Transfers Now Possible at Real-Time 24/7
June 8 (Cover Mongolia) Inter-bank money transfers of less than ₮1 million is now possible to be delivered at real-time, 24/7 from May 23.
Mongolian Economy Headlines, June 2-6
June 6 (Mongolian Economy) --
World Bank: China's Growth Moderates with Continued Economic Transformation
BEIJING, June 6, 2014 (World Bank) China's growth will moderate over the medium term as the economy continues to rebalance gradually. Growth is expected to slow to 7.6 percent in 2014, and 7.5 percent in 2015, from 7.7 percent in 2013, according to the World Bank's China Economic Update released today.
"The rebalancing will be uneven reflecting tensions between structural trends and near term demand management measures," says Chorching Goh, Lead Economist for China.
The slowdown in the first quarter reflected a combination of dissipating effects of earlier measures to support growth, a weak external environment, and tighter credit, especially for real estate. However, economic activity, including industrial production, has shown signs of a pick-up in recent weeks. The recent acceleration, which is likely to continue into the next two quarters, reflects robust consumption, a recovery of external demand, and new growth supporting measures, including infrastructure investments and tax incentives for small and medium-sized enterprises.
The China Economic Update, a regular assessment of China's economy, identifies several risks to this gradual adjustment. First, a disorderly deleveraging of local government debt could trigger a sharp slowdown in investment growth. Second, an abrupt change in the cost of, or access to, capital for such sectors as real estate could significantly reduce economic activity. Finally, the recovery in exports may not materialize if growth in advanced countries weakens.
The Update notes that the policy responses to these medium-term risks should center on fiscal and financial sector reforms, which were part of the government's reform agenda outlined in November 2013. These include effectively managing and supervising rapid credit growth, especially in the shadow banking system, and gradually reducing the local government debt that has been accumulated through off-budget and quasi-fiscal activities.
"The proposed reform measures are structural in nature," observes Karlis Smits, Senior Economist and main author of the Update. "In the medium term, these policy measures will improve the quality of China's growth – making it more balanced, inclusive and sustainable and lay the foundation for sound economic development."
While these reforms may reduce growth in the short run, policies that promote competition, lower entry barriers to protected sectors and reduce administrative burden on businesses will help dampen the impact, and create a more market-oriented economy.
MP B.Bat-Erdene asks President to review lifting moratorium on exploration licenses
June 8 (UB Post) Member of Parliament B.Bat-Erdene sent President Ts.Elbegdorj a letter asking him to review the issue of granting minerals exploration and exploitation licenses stated in the Minerals Law. In his letter, MP B.Bat-Erdene also stated that draft amendments made to the Minerals Law should be discussed through the Civil Hall, hearing the views and opinions of scholars and ordinary citizens.
MP B.Bat-Erdene highlighted that the draft bill to make amendments to the Law on Minerals calls for the re-issue of minerals licenses terminated by the President of Mongolia, and does not mention anything about supporting the participation and control of policy by citizens, local governing bodies and state administrative organizations in the issuing of the licenses, which conflicts with the stated meaning and intentions of the draft bill initiated by the President.
He wanted the President to pay more attention to this issue as the authorities are going to allow mineral exploitation in national parks and borders, and mines included in list of the "Law on Prohibition of Minerals Exploitation and Exploration Near Water Sources, Protected Areas and Forests" will now be identified as strategic mines.
Public surveys hiding the truth
June 8 (UB Post) The value of democracy is listening to public opinion, and solving issues based on the public's decisions. One of the ways to implement this is to conduct surveys.
Over 60 organizations exist to listen to and accept the public's views. Lately, specialists have been appreciative of the method and quality of surveys conducted by the Sant Maral Foundation.
That's why they have been conducting work for internal and external projects.
But it is hard to believe in the standards of survey organizations when their numbers drastically increase as soon as an election is to be held. They may have an agenda to produce survey results that serve the interest of politicians.
We can't deny the possibility that survey organizations can be bought in order to stay in business. So, we will talk about recent two surveys that have raised suspicions.
Even though the city issued trash bags have been distributed for a long time, Ulaanbaatar has not been disposing of the trash. The green plastic bags flutter everywhere and make the environment worse. In recent weeks, the public has criticized the city administration concerning the plastic bags that cost 3.2 billion MNT. The city administration stated they will decide whether the plastic bags will be distributed or not based on surveys. A survey organization was selected and the Ulaanbaatar Governor's Office presented the results.
The survey was said to covered 33 thousand households in 150 micro districts, conducted by researchers from Sor Goo Club and students majoring in society and sociology. It was supervised by the division of Supervision, Analysis and Evaluation of the Governor's Office, the monitoring division of the Ulaanbaatar Governor's Office, representatives from the Asia Fund of the U.S. and a coalition called "New Village to Support City Development". Sixty percent of the participants in the survey supported the distribution of the plastic bags and 40 percent opposed it. So the city decided to distribute them. But some people suspect that the city administration is serving their business interests thanks to the survey. It is doubtful whether or not this is true, considering the organizations responsible for supervising the process.
Another controversy arose over the social, economic, and political survey of the first quarter of 2014, which was conducted by New Era Center. They claimed that the way to collect accurate information was to use sampled surveys, and they spoke with 2,200 random citizens of Ulaanbaatar and eight provinces from March 25 to April 5, 2014. The reason for this survey was to establish the ratings of political parties and politicians and to get to know the public's opinion on problems facing Mongolia.
N.Altankhuyag, head of the Government for Changes, led in the ratings. It confused the public. He is always being criticized by the public for his statements and actions, but he ranked ahead of President Elbegdorj, and his parliament was selected as the best since 2000. The conclusion of the survey cited that his weekly statements to the public, the initiation of many projects and his open-minded character influenced his ratings.
But there is still doubt around the issue of public surveys. There are questions about survey organizations being able to conduct surveys honestly and expressing public opinion without working for someone's interests.
Mongolia government to spend 2.2 billion MNT on Naadam celebrations
June 8 (UB Post) The total spending budget for the 2014 Naadam Festival, 808th anniversary of the establishment of the Great Mongol Empire, and the 93rd anniversary of the People's Revolution was approved at 2.2 billion MNT. Some 369.9 million MNT of the total funds will be generated from the income made from Naadam Festival operations, 500 million MNT from the city budget, 57 million MNT from the surplus of last year's Naadam Festival earnings, and the remaining 1.2 million MNT will come from the Government's Resource Fund.
Some 921.2 million MNT of the total budget (13.1 percent) is devoted to awards, 946 million MNT (42.8 percent) will be spent on organizing cultural events and ceremonies, 494 million MNT (22.4 percent) will be spent on services and maintenance, 142.5 million MNT (6.4 percent) will go towards event security and emergency services, and the remainder will be spent on management of the Naadam Festival.
Government to Support Banking Sector With Tax Policy
June 6 (infomongolia.com) The irregular Cabinet meeting of the Government was held on Wednesday, June 04 and among the resolved issues was renewed bills on the Law on Corporate Income Tax and Law on Value Added Tax (VAT) to submit to the State Great Khural (Parliament).
When Mongolian commercial banks attract foreign sources of capital market, investors and lenders strongly request not to be deducted any tax from interest income to Mongolia. Therefore, commercial banks increase their costs and pay interest income tax to the state budget in accordance with the law.
Furthermore, it affects as a burden for businesses when borrowing from commercial banks, the added tax cost is included in the loan interest rate. Therefore, amendments to the Law on Corporate Income Tax to support the banking sector in the tax policy was resolved to made and thus the renewed bill is to submit to the Parliament.
Moreover, it was cited in the draft bill to reduce the bond interest income for non-resident taxpayers in Mongolia from 20% to 10% of corporate income tax, who purchased bonds released by Mongolian banks in local and foreign stock markets.
In addition, an amendment in the Law on Value Added Tax is also expected to submit to the Parliament that cites, "Bank and non-bank financial institutions will be exempted from value added tax, who temporary possess and sale some immovable property that aim to accelerate process in order to pay their loan".
June 6 (infomongolia.com) The national IT Zone Company has released for sale its first developed Mogul brand "Sonor" smart phone on June 05, 2014.
The smart phone features a simple use of function, where some applications like photo album and ringtones were developed under intellectual property permission created by Mongolians.
With software developed by Mongolian engineers, the "Mogul Sonor" smart phone with Android 4.2 (Jelly Bean) version is sold on phone market at the cheapest price of 149,000 MNT (Tugrug) and accessible for all cell phone operators in Mongolia such as "Unitel", "G-Mobile", "Mobicom" and "Skytel".
Moreover, it supports Dual SIM (WCDMA+GSM) and pre-installed Mongolia's first App Store that enables to install and update Mongolian contents and applications at once, currently the system runs in English and developers said in near future it would be updated in Mongolian language and being sold at "Mogul" and "Canon" centers in Ulaanbaatar.
Ulaanbaatar, June 6 (MONTSAME) The Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag Thursday legged a cow farm, a "Khishihten Nuudelchin" LLC, which is breeding Montbeliarde cattle.
The farm has been erected under 2.8 billion togrog out of 43 billion from the "Chingis" bonds revenue for the diary production this year. The farm has imported from France 150 heads of the Montbeliarde cattle of dairy and beef products. "The Mongolian cow gives 4.5 liters milk a day, whereas her "French counterpart"--from 20 to 25 liters, with high protein," said the company's executive director J.Battogs. "As we have learned, the Montbeliarde mountainous region has had no animal diseases in the last 20 years," he said, adding that it is fully possible to develop here such farms combining with Mongolian traditional experience.
Cattle farm normally requires good fodder and places, "so we planted all kinds of fodder plants on four thousand hectares and have managed to fully provide our cows with fodder," Battogs said. He wants to import 160 heads soon, he added.
The Premier noted that ten such farms around the capital city would satisfy 50 percent of its need in dairy products, and wished the company big successes.
As of today, 15 companies have received financing of MNT 10.5 billion from the "Chingis" bonds and are ready to start activities son, a Vice Minister of Agriculture and Industry Ts.Tuvaan added.
Mogi: it's a lot cheaper than the custom made Mercedes-Benz Zetros 6x6, of which only two exists, both in Mongolia
Made in Bend — for delivery to Mongolia
MIAT Adds Ulaanbaatar-Haneda to Tokyo Direct Flights from August 1 to October 25
June 6 (infomongolia.com) The National Flag Carrier - MIAT Mongolian Airlines JSC announced to conduct direct flight between Ulaanbaatar and Haneda from August 01 to October 25, 2014.
The MIAT used to conduct such flight in 2009 and due to approaching tourist peak season, they decided to carry passengers twice a week on Tuesdays and Saturdays with its Boeing 737-800 with capacity of 12 business and 150 economy seats.
The national air carrier expects during this period about 70% of passengers would be comprised of Japanese and other travelers and the rest 30% would be Mongolians.
WORLD SOCCER LAUNCHES IN MONGOLIA
June 6 (IPC Media) IPC Media today announces a partnership with Amin Media Group for the launch of World Soccer in Mongolia, aimed at fulfilling the interest that Mongolian fans have in both global leagues and the English Premier League.
With football becoming the most watched sport in Mongolia in the past five years, the magazine will feature content from the UK edition as well as relevant local content such as an introduction to local football clubs, players of the national team and their history, football news, children's clubs and academies and fan club information.
IPC Media International licensing manager Bianca Hamilton-Foster says: "We're really excited to be launching World Soccer in Mongolia ahead of the World Cup and also to have the privilege of being one of the first international brands to launch in this rapidly expanding market. We're looking forward to working with Amin Media Group to deliver great football content to Mongolian fans."
Bayarmagnai Puntsag, CEO of Amin Media Group, adds: "After we aired our first TV commercial, fans were calling from all corners of Mongolia and even from abroad asking us the launch date. Football fans are so excited that we're launching World Soccer in Mongolia. I'm proud to announce that in our launch issue, Mr. Enkhbold Zandaakhuu, speaker of the Mongolian Parliament, delivered a special welcome message to our fans. And on Saturday 7th June we're hosting the World Soccer Mongolia Cup, a friendly tournament between the top 10 fan clubs. The tournament winner will play a friendly match against the Parliament members' team. We're also organising an e-football tournament among professional esport gamers, so everyone can be involved!"
Hamish Dawson, publishing director of World Soccer, says: "This welcome association with Amin Media Group further extends the already global reach of the World Soccer brand, both in printed and digital editions and through our website, www.worldsoccer.com. We're delighted to be working with such enthusiastic partners, and to be serving such a dedicated fan-base in Mongolia."
The first issue of World Soccer Mongolia launches today, June 6, with a cover price of 5,000 MNT. The magazine will be monthly and launches along with a dedicated website, www.worldsoccer.mn.
B.Ankhbayar: Mongolian businesses need to understand the importance of HR management
June 8 (UB Post) The following is an interview with B.Ankhbayar, executive director of UA Consulting Company, highlighting important aspects about human resource (HR) audit services. UA Consulting Company is the first company to offer HR audit services in Mongolia.
B.Ankhbayar graduated from Humboldt University of Berlin and majored in HR management at the University of Melbourne, Australia. While working in the US for more than ten years, she dedicated her knowledge and capabilities to two major banks and an aviation company.
Can you tell our readers about what HR audit is?
This is a service with the highest demand in the world. Over 20 years have passed since private companies were established here and yet knowledge about HR audit services is very poor. It's actually something as important and necessary as financial audits. For instance, let's say a company has 1,200 employees; as it's common for companies to experience losses from incorrect organizational structure and allocations of personnel, it's important to see if the organization's productivity is as high as it should be. Productivity and efficiency corresponds to salary, rewards and bonuses which then influence the organization's finance. By introducing HR audit evaluation, the organization will be able to supervise and assess how many employees are working in how many department, whether the work is being done by three persons or by one, whether there's appropriate amount of workload and the amount of total workload affecting productivity. Furthermore, an organization can monitor, receive counseling and advisory services for checking and correcting personnel related policies and documents as well as evaluate whether their definition of staff roles is relative with their official position. Extended services include evaluation system, which makes it possible to find out whether an organization is rewarding capable employees or unproductive employees. Currently two big business entities are adopting and starting to know the effects of our services.
Many businesses in Mongolia are not aware of the obligations and functions of a HR personnel. What do these officers of the HR audit do?
Government Issued Guarantees for ₮11 Billion out ₮27 Billion Loans Granted to SMEs
Ulaanbaatar, June 6 (MONTSAME) The Credit Guarantee Fund, together with the United Nations and the Labor Ministry held Friday a meeting themed 'Loan Guarantee: Function and Involvement for Increased Financial Opportunities for SME'.
Some 120 representatives of international organizations, governmental and non-governmental organizations, financial bodies and banks took part in the meeting. At the meeting, an executive director of the Credit Guarantee Fund Sh.Altankhuyag informed the gathered that the Government has granted loan guarantees of 11 billion togrog for lending of 27 billion togrog for 169 borrowers consisting of entities and citizens. The Government has been issuing pledges for loans of SMEs for the last one year in support of their business initiations and operations.
Today, there are some 44 thousand SMEs operating in Mongolia, composing overwhelming 82% of all business entities.
Wolf of Wall Street optimistic about Mongolia
By James Watkins
June 8 (UB Post) Jordan Belfort, former stockbroker, entrepreneur, and fraudster turned motivational speaker, visited Mongolia on Friday, June 6.
The self-proclaimed "Wolf of Wall Street," whose life was dramatized in the award winning Hollywood blockbuster of the same name, visited the Mongolian Stock Exchange and a number of financial companies during the day, and in the evening gave a speech to a room full of business people at Blue Sky Hotel.
Belfort's autobiography received its big-budget film adaptation in 2013, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the rags-to-riches New York stockbroker who made millions out of thin air, before being jailed for 22 months for fraud. The film received criticism for the debauched and often shocking displays of Belfort's indulgences with sex and drugs, however he has said that the reality was "even worse" than what was depicted, telling Friday's assembled crowd that he "was taking enough drugs each day to sedate Mongolia."
Since his imprisonment in 1998, the "Wolf" has moved on from Wall Street. He has been sober for 17 years, and now works as a public speaker, telling audiences about his astonishing life, giving motivational seminars, and explaining the "Straight Line System"—his unique method that earned him his millions and is now used by thousands of companies worldwide. It is rumored that these speaking engagements earn him over 100 million USD per year—he disclosed on Friday that some multinational companies pay him up to 100,000 USD for a one-hour seminar with their sales team. The financial arrangement behind Friday's two-hour event is unclear, which was hosted by CBM LLC along with a host of other sponsors.
Most of Belfort's presentation to the Mongolian audience was about his life story, drawing lessons about how to succeed in sales, as an entrepreneur, or more generally from his life experiences. He emphasized the importance in business of managing risk so you can push boundaries without ever being fully invested—learning to "fail elegantly"—as well as not settling for moderate success by setting high personal standards and "succeeding wildly." His assertion that, "the story you tell yourself about why you can't get what you want in life is what stops you from getting what you want in life," drew applause from the capacity audience.
The business lesson from the Wolf of Wall Street was well received by the assembled audience of around 250 business people, many from the mining sector. His expertise will also be employed by figures from Mongolia's nascent but growing brokerage and investment banking sectors, which he discussed with hope for their future.
Belfort also provided specific advice for Mongolian industry. He argued that despite recent withdrawals of foreign investment and a lack of liquidity in Mongolian markets, "the greatest opportunities come at times like these." With low global resource prices and a tightening Mongolian economy, this period will prove to be a "blessing in disguise" for those "brave" enough to invest big now while the market is depressed. And, addressing the business people who have yet to see the fruits of recent labor, Belfort stressed that their hard work has been building strong roots that will allow for massive growth in the future.
Mongolia's long-term economic outlook couldn't be better, it was argued. With vast resource assets that have undeniable value, combined with crucial proximity to China, a "friendly government that is learning from its own missteps," and a young, educated, and driven population, Belfort was extremely optimistic about the country. The way forward, then, must be to convince investors of the true value of Mongolian assets (and that they are currently undervalued), to continue to ease the sovereign risk of inconsistent government policy, and to "keep telling the story" of Mongolia to foreign investors with enthusiasm.
Mayor of Ulaanbaatar Conducts Working Visit to Beijing
June 6 (infomongolia.com) Governor of the Capital City and Mayor of Ulaanbaatar, Mr. Erdene BAT-UUL, who is conducting a working visit to China, was received by Mayor of Beijing Mr. Wang Anshun on June 05, 2014.
During a meeting, Mayor E.Bat-Uul said, "Our two countries that bordered with mountains and rivers are eternal neighbors. Mongolia's priority policy to develop foreign relations with the People's Republic of China is to boost bilateral beneficial partnership at all sectors.
Therefore, mutual cooperation between the two capital cities is significant in relations of the two countries. Mongolia and the PR of China are commemorating the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, besides 20th anniversary of "Friendship Relations and Partnership Agreement" and the 2014 is announced as the Friendly Exchange Year, where many events are being co-organized in a broad range. In the scope of this Friendly Exchange Year, I am delighted to conduct a visit to Beijing".
In response, Beijing Mayor Wang Anshun emphasized, "A capital city of any state is being a center of economy, education, society and culture. In this regard, our two cities have great opportunities to collaborate and contribute to development of the two countries. Thereby, we intend to support large companies of Beijing by promoting and investigating in Ulaanbaatar city's large scale project and programs. Currently, over 8,000 students from Mongolia are studying in China majored in trade and economy, whereas most of them are in Beijing. Therefore, we wish to expand this collaboration in culture and art fields".
At the end of meeting, Mayor E.Bat-Uul noted, "We will fully support your initiation. Meanwhile, the General Plan of Ulaanbaatar city was recently approved and in the frameworks, we plan to implement "Friendly Ulaanbaatar" program to develop tourism sector with our two neighbors. Furthermore, we expect to partner with Beijing on some projects and programs".
Ulaanbaatar railbus service launched today
June 8 (UB Post) A railbus service will launch today, enabling Ulaanbaatar residents to enjoy traffic free transportation in the city.
The service aims to support mass transit, reduce traffic load and save both time and money for the public.
The 136-seated railbus will run between the two ends of the city, from Amgalan to Tolgoit, in 46 minutes at an average of 100 kilometers per hour for 2,000 MNT.
The authorities said that they will soon decide whether to allow free services to the elderly and students, who receive public transportation for free.
The railbus will stop at eight stations; Amgalan, Tolgoit, Tavan Shar, Bars-2, Ulaanbaatar Railway Station, Dundgol, Narantuul, and Ulaankhuaran.
Mogi: what about the rest of us? Or more importantly, what about focusing getting good treatment here? The new GrandMed (Jiguur Grand), InterMed (MCS/Shunkhlai), the newly Thai-bought Songdo, …?
Ulaanbaatar Municipal Officials to Get Discounted Treatment at South Korea's Hanyang Hospital
Ulaanbaatar, June 6 (MONTSAME) A cooperation memorandum was concluded between the Capital city Governor's Office and Hanyang University International Hospital of South Korea on June 6.
The memorandum was signed by Yo.Gerelchuluun, chair of the Governor's Office, and Dr Yong Ko, president of Hanyang University International Hospital.
The memorandum enables discounted medical diagnosis and treatment for officers of municipal administrative organizations and their family members. The international care center will render assistance in visa issuing, and will deliver queue-free services for these officers at the hospital.
Russia, Mongolia agree to step up cooperation — Russian official
BEIJING, June 06. /ITAR-TASS/. Russia and Mongolia have determined further ways for developing trusted-based cooperation.
"We tried to formalise the agreements, reached on the sidelines of the Shanghai summit. I'm satisfied that we could resume the dialogue between the Security Councils of our countries," the secretary of Russia's Security Council, Nikolai Patrushev has said.
He commented on the results of his June 3-4 trip to Mongolia that had preceded the visit to China.
"Mongolia is our neighbour and the major strategic partner. This is conditioned by the common economic interests, close relations between people and common positions on key global issues," Patrushev said on Friday.
"Based on this approach we'll be able to determine further ways for cooperation for the sake of regional security and stability," he said.
"Our cooperation within the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is our promising trend," Patrushev said.
Kuwait Investment Authority delegation meets Mongolian Economic Minister
KUWAIT, June 6 (KUNA) -- A delegation from Kuwait Investment Authority (KIA) met Friday with Mongolian Minister for Economic Development Nyamjav Batbayar.
During the meeting, attended by Kuwaiti Ambassador to Mongolia Khalid Al-Fadhli, minister Batbayar presented a number of investment projects to the KIA delegation, said a statement by the embassy.
The Ambassador hoped that the authority would consider long-term investments within mining, road constructions, and energy amongst others.
The two sides also discussed economic issues of mutual concern during the meeting. Moreover, the delegation met with Mongolian officials in the private and public sectors, as part of the KIA's plan to get into the small investment markets.
ILO Director-General invites PM Altankhuyag to speak at Int'l Labor Conference
Ulaanbaatar, June 6 (MONTSAME) The Mongolia's Prime Minister N.Altankhuyag has been officially invited to the 103rd session of the International Labor Conference which is running in Geneva of Switzerland on May 28- June 12.
A Director-General of the International Labor Organization /ILO/ Mr Guy Ryder invited a head of the Government for Reforms N.Altankhuyag to give a speech on Mongolia's experiences carried out in labor and social sectors.
The ILO is a United Nations agency dealing with labor issues, particularly international labor standards and decent work for all. Underlying the ILO's work is the importance of cooperation between governments and employers' and workers' organizations in fostering social and economic progress.
Mogi: funny how both Foreign Ministry and Montsame fails to mention the Honorary Consul's name. The appointee is Mr. Munkhbat Chuluun, a Waikato University graduate, former Deputy Prosecutor General, according to the non-resident NZ ambassador
New Zealand Opens Honorary Consulate in Mongolia
Ulaanbaatar, June 6 (MONTSAME) A ceremony took place to open the Honorary Consulate of New Zealand in Ulaanbaatar on Thursday, in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs L.Bold made the remarks at the ceremony. Present were Mr Carl Worker, the Concurrent Non-Resident Ambassador of New Zealand to Mongolia.
Mongolia and New Zealand established the diplomatic relations on April 8 of 1975.
June 5 (US Embassy) The Mongolian Sitting Volleyball Association organized an exhibition game and presentation in Khan-Uul District of Ulaanbaatar on June 5. The goal was to share with others the experiences of 11 women players and their coach on a Sports United exchange program in the United States.
The group traveled to Oklahoma City in November. While there, they trained with the U.S.A. Sitting Volleyball team at the University of Central Oklahoma. They also took part in alternative activities like archery, golfing, an adaptive rowing and rock climbing sessions, cultural tours, visited a prosthetic development foundation, and interacted with American university students and youth throughout the exchange.
Ambassador Campbell, who played volleyball in high school, attended the presentation and even joined the team to play for a short time.
While the athletes were in the United States, they learned about disability rights, the lessons of Title IX (which ensured equal treatment for women in sports), and the leadership skills that come with sports. Participants were introduced to the history of disability sport and disability rights during session with State Department representative Ann Cody. Participants were also instructed on using sport as a tool to positively impact girls and woman in their community.
In addition to programs related to sport, they group visited the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma where they assisted in boxing food items for those in need in the metro area. They also visited the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, went to a professional ice-hockey game, and experienced southern hospitality over dinner with area residents.
Alcohol Consumption: A Toast to Data
by Brian White
June 8 (The Mongolist) This will be the last post on this blog for an indefinite period as I turn my attention to other projects. I thought it would be fitting for the last post to be inspired much as the first post (here) was nearly two years ago with an interesting question raised by my fellow blogger Julian Dierkes over at "Mongolia Focus." Recently, Julian pointed out that a World Health Organization (WHO) interactive map on alcohol consumption around the world put Mongolia at a relatively low 5.8 liters of "pure alcohol" consumption per person per year (see map here). Given that alcoholism, in popular belief, is one of Mongolia's most acute public health problems, this number seemed remarkably low.
The graph above shows Mongolia relative to other countries using slightly more up-to-date WHO data.1 Mongolia is right in the middle of the pack, just above the world-wide average of 6.2 liters of "pure alcohol" per person per year. "Pure alcohol" meaning the volume of alcohol consumed from low alcohol content beverages like beer to high content beverages like vodka. Drinkers in more economically developed countries like the US, Canada, and South Korea out consume Mongolians by pretty significant margins, and Russian drinkers, who are often used as a companion comparison to Mongolian drinkers, might as well be from a completely different planet. The data represented in this graph is so counter to the popular conception of alcohol consumption in Mongolia that one might challenge its validity.
I decided to test whether the WHO estimate squared with another source of data. The Ministry of Industry and Agriculture publishes regular reports on the amount of alcohol produced and imported in Mongolia.2 Production and imports are not necessarily consumption, but I think it is a reasonable proxy in Mongolia's case. The table below presents production and import data for alcoholic beverages and an estimate of per person alcohol consumption during the same period covered by the WHO estimate. On this basis, the estimate derived from the Ministry data is in the same ballpark as the WHO estimate at 6.61 liters per person.
That does not prove the WHO estimate is correct, of course, because WHO possibly incorporated the same or similar government data in its estimate. But, digging deeper into the issue, I discovered some interesting facts. First, there is a significant difference in consumption between genders. The graph below shows Mongolia compared to the selection of countries highlighted in the first graph above. Men consume over five times as much alcohol than women in Mongolia. Not really a surprising result given my own personal experience, but it is significant to note that women, which make up just over 50 percent of the population, basically don't consume alcohol. The volume of 2.2 liters per year consumed by women is roughly equivalent to 2.5 glasses of wine per week.3 It should also be noted that Mongolian men still consume less than men in the United States, Canada, South Korea, and Russia on average.
Second, a separate WHO survey conducted in 2006 measured the prevalence of alcohol consumption in Mongolia and found that 25 percent of people consumed 86 percent of all alcohol.4 The imbalance in consumption across all consumers and between genders suggests that Mongolia's image as having an extraordinary alcoholism problem is driven by a small, gender specific segment of the population, while everyone else either abstains or consumes insignificant amounts of alcohol throughout the year. Does that mean Mongolia doesn't have a public health problem when it comes to alcoholism? No, of course not. I think what it means is that a huge part of the problem is not cultural but rather a lack of public services supporting prevention and treatment, and maybe this difference is what separates Mongolia from economically developed countries like the US which consume much higher rates of alcohol without having an image of out-of-control and endemic alcoholism.
A simple way to prevent over-consumption among people at risk of alcoholism might be to make pure alcohol more time consuming to ingest. The graph below shows the cost of pure alcohol for various types of beverages. The prices come from a non-scientific survey of my local supermarket. Cheap beers like Borgio with high alcohol content cost roughly the same amount as cheap vodkas in terms of alcohol per Tugrik (the yellow line). Imported beers and wine with lower alcohol content are much more expensive per unit of alcohol. But, if the government were to tax consumption so that the cost of pure alcohol were equivalent across beverage types (the blue bars), vodka would appear much more expensive than both wine and beer. From a consumer stand point, both wine and beer would become more appealing options for getting alcohol into one's bloodstream even though the per unit cost were the same. Consumers would get more for their money in terms of beverage but less in terms of alcohol. There is a limit to how much a stomach can hold at any given time, so the end result would be a decline in overall alcohol consumption even for hardcore drinkers. At the moment, the government makes it way too easy for people with alcohol addictions to over-consume.
This data shouldn't actually come as too much of a surprise when you think about it. Although Mongolians themselves might say they have a pervasive culture of drinking, comparisons with other countries would suggest otherwise. For example, Mongolians do not, as a general rule, consume alcohol at meals like the French or Italians. Alcohol is not a staple for everyday consumption like beer in Germany or the United States. It is reserved for special occasions such as a visit from an honored guest or holiday. Even though home-brewing of yoghurt spirits and fermented mare's milk are common substitutes for manufactured drinks, alcohol is still considered something special to give rather than consume like fancy chocolates or specially cultivated fruit in Japan. Alcohol is sporadically consumed, but when it is consumed, it is often consumed in excess by a certain demographic--I'm thinking of you, Tsagaan Sar and men between the ages of 25 and 50. This behavior is arguably facilitated in large part by the cheap availability of purer forms of alcohol. What the data and WHO reports suggest is that Mongolia's alcohol problem, much like its other health and social problems, is a bit more subtle than the popular image of an ingrained culture of drinking and rampant alcoholism might suggest.
A toast is definitely in order to data for once again challenging and forcing us to rethink our popular images of Mongolia. Or, as people in the US say, "It's Miller time!"
1. See WHO Global Alcohol report here: http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/publications/global_alcohol_report/msb_gsr_2014_3.pdf?ua=1.
2. See Ministry of Industry and Agriculture regular production report here: http://www.mofa.gov.mn/mn/images/stories/busad/tsagu12.pdf.
3. Based on 175ml glass of wine at 10 percent alcohol by volume.
4. WHO, "Epidemiological Study of Prevalence of Alcohol Consumption, Alcohol Drinking Patterns and Alcohol Related Harms in Mongolia", http://moh.mn/moh%20db/Healthreports.nsf/ecb18f03b32fae434825768500144b6e/1380506cf1d8d8e1c825718c0012c0ed/$FILE/Final%20draft%20for%20WHO1.pdf, (2006), pg. 26.
Mongolia Elected to UNESCO Committee on Intangible Cultural Heritage
June 6 (infomongolia.com) Mongolia has been for the first time elected a member of UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage for 2014-2018 at the Fifth Session of the General Assembly of the States Parties to the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage convened in Paris, France on June 02-05, 2014.
Mongolia endorsed the Convention for Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2005 and placed in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity:
- Morin Khuur (two stringed horse head fiddle),
- Mongolian Long Song,
- Mongol Naadam Festival,
- Khuumii (Khoomei or throat singing),
- Eagle Hunting,
- Traditional Craftsmanship of the Mongol Ger and its Associated Customs.
In the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding:
- Biyelgee (traditional folk dance),
- Mongolian Tuuli (oral tradition comprising heroic epic, ballad)
- Mongolian Tsuur (traditional music instrument),
- Traditional technique of playing long songs with Mongolian Limbe - circular breathing,
- Mongolian Calligraphy.
A total of 12 member-states were elected as UNESCO committee-member for 2014-2018 including Algeria, Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Congo, Ivory Coast, Saint Lucia, South Korea, Turkey, Hungary, India, and Ethiopia.
Mongolia elected as member of UNESCO Committee – Montsame, June 6
World Bank Approves Package of Projects to Support Livelihoods, Education, and Service Delivery in Mongolia
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 6, 2014 (World Bank) Today the World Bank's Board of Executive Directors approved a total of US$93.7 million in credits from the International Development Agency (IDA) to the Government of Mongolia to support four projects:
· Education Quality Reform Project (US$30 million)
· Third Sustainable Livelihoods Project (US$24.8 million)
· E-Health Project (US$19.5 million)
· SMART Government Project (US $19.4 million)
These projects will be implemented after they are approved by Mongolia's Parliament.
The Education Quality Reform Project aims to improve the quality of education for primary school children in Mongolia. The project will create a results focus within the education system and strengthen the country's capacity to provide classroom-level support for teaching and learning in every primary school in the country. The project will extend access to high quality learning materials, establish a national assessment system, improve teacher professional development, and implement a school grants program.
The Third Sustainable Livelihoods Project aims to benefit the rural citizens throughout Mongolia with improved local governance through the implementation of Local Development Funds and to support the further development of the Government's Soum Program for local economic development. This will be the third phase of the Sustainable Livelihoods Program, which began in 2002 and has demonstrated and scaled up new approaches to livelihood support focusing on community development funds, pastoral risk management and microfinance outreach. The project will support capacity building for local government and communities and provide performance-based financing for good governance. The project will be co-financed with a US$11.4 million grant from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.
The E-Health Project will take advantage of Mongolia's vast broadband infrastructure to ensure faster access to more integrated health information systems across the country to process referrals faster, avoid duplication of tests and procedures, and provide follow-up care, as the information can be shared among hospitals and healthcare providers, even in remote areas.
The SMART Government Project aims to use Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to improve accessibility, transparency and efficiency of public services in Mongolia. The Project will support the Government in achieving its vision and leveraging the ICT sector as a key driver of growth, competitiveness, and improved governance. The project seeks to advance Mongolia's commitment to an accountable, transparent and responsive government, leveraging open data and ICT innovations.
New device to cut tuberculosis diagnosis in Darkhan to two hours from 76 days
June 8 (UB Post) Darkhan-Uul Province Health Center received GeneXpert automated diagnostic test device, laptop and related tuberculosis software as part of Mongolia's central tuberculosis project, with the support of the Global Fund earlier this week. The equipment were purchased at the total cost of 32 million MNT.
Minister of Health N.Udval said that early tuberculosis diagnosis has increased 13 percent which is a sign that more people are gaining a chance to be treated and cured.
"Previously, it took 76 days to diagnose tuberculosis, while it is now available in only two hours with the device," she added.
The medical staff that will utilize the equipment will be trained and the equipment will be installed according to standards at the center by professionals.
Once the device is fully operational, the province residents will be able to receive diagnosis for early stages of tuberculosis, HIV, and other illnesses that are caused by tuberculosis.
Border guards arrest three smuggling crystal meth, hashish from China
June 8 (UB Post) Zamiin Uud soum border guards arrested three Mongolian citizens at Zamiin Uud-Erenhot border checkpoint who were smuggling ice and hashish from China to Mongolia in the morning of June 4.
A large quantity of illegal drugs were hidden inside the suspects' vehicle.
The smugglers are currently under interrogation at the Authority Against Organized Crimes (AAOC) in Ulaanbaatar.
Drug smuggling cases have been rising in recent years, reported officials of the Border Guard Unit 0108.
A case where a son of an official who works at the General Authority for Border Protection was caught carrying illegal drugs was exposed last winter, while a tradesman was caught smuggle illegal drugs to Mongolia recently. The resolutions of the cases still remain unclear as authorities have yet to release reports on the cases.
According to a study by the AAOC, cases surrounding drug smuggling, dealing, consuming and storing have risen by 60 percent this year as of May compared to 2013.
Wheat sowing completed
June 8 (UB Post) Crop farmers have completed wheat sowing, which will supply next year's flour demand, at 315,000 hectares of land.
Flour produced from harvested wheat last year didn't meet domestic demands, therefore Mongolia planted wheat on additional 15,000 hectares of land this spring. A total of 426,400 tons of wheat is expected to be harvested this fall.
Crop farmers are sowing seed potatoes at 15,500 hectares, vegetables at 8,300 hectares, livestock fodder at 10,000 hectares and rapeseed at 24,000 hectares of land nationwide this spring.
Vegetable sowing is at 70 percent completion as of Wednesday.
Women legislators from Mongolia exchange experiences with Swedish counterparts to advance gender equality
June 5 (OSCE) Strategies for strengthening women's role in parliament and to advance gender equality were the focus of a study visit to Stockholm by women parliamentarians from Mongolia from 3 to 5 June 2014.
THE BLACK MARKET FOR DINOSAURS
June 7 (The New Yorker) On the morning of October 17, 2012, a cadre of federal agents and sheriff's deputies in Gainesville, Florida, went to the home of a suspected fossil smuggler named Eric Prokopi and arrested him.
As I reported in The New Yorker in January, 2013, the case against Prokopi was unusual and aggressive: it included several counts of felonious smuggling, and characterizations of the defendant as a "one-man black market." Two months after his arrest, Prokopi pleaded guilty to smuggling the bones of a Tarbosaurus bataar, a Tyrannosaurus rex cousin that lived seventy million years ago in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia, which prohibits the commercialization of natural history.
Facing a possible seventeen years in prison, Prokopi started talking. In the seventeen months since he pleaded guilty, he has helped to widen the U.S. investigation into fossil smuggling, providing details about specific specimens, dates, and locations. "There is probably not an active fossil investigation at this point that doesn't owe, on some level, to information that Mr. Prokopi has furnished law enforcement," Martin Bell, an assistant U.S. Attorney, told the U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein last week, when Prokopi returned to the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan for sentencing. The case has pushed federal authorities to get their "act together" with respect to "the policing of this admittedly obscure area," Bell said, adding, "The government's only recently realizing the contours of that black market, and what it is."
Prokopi's cooperation with authorities has led to the recovery and repatriation of not only the T. bataar but also other Mongolian fossils—enough to populate a new dinosaur museum in Ulaanbaatar. In court on Tuesday, Bell reported that "over eighteen largely complete, if not fully prepped, dinosaur fossils will be returned as a result, indirectly or directly, of Mr. Prokopi's information, to Mongolia, a country which is not only enthusiastic about the possibility of dinosaur tourism based solely on the haul from this case but which badly seems to need it." The returned specimens included "a second Tyrannosaurus skeleton; a dinosaur called an oviraptor, which is an egg-eating thing," Bell said. "I think a number of them stampeded in the 1996 movie 'Jurassic Park.' It might have been 1992. I was young and awestruck in any event, Your Honor."
"I missed the movie," the judge said. "Maybe I should go back to see it."
"Every now and then it airs on TNT."
Fossil poaching is neither new nor especially rare, and mostly happens in fossil-rich countries such as China, Argentina, and the United States. A fossil that is removed and sold into private hands, without correlating data, loses its scientific importance, and so paleontologists are bitterly opposed to even the legal trade in fossils. Prokopi and his like-minded colleagues—"commercial paleontologists"—argue that, if not for them, fossils would turn to ash. It's an old feud, unresolved.
Fossil-poaching and smuggling cases usually end in plea bargains. A Prokopi trial might have revealed more than has ever been publicly known about how the international market works: the siting of digs, the excavation methods, the middlemen, the shipping routes, the buyers, the motivations, the money. "It was never just about the money," Prokopi's attorney, Georges Lederman, told the court last week. "He never had any expensive boats, expensive cars, expensive planes, jewelry, jewels, watches, never took expensive trips. The little money he did make"—Prokopi would have netted about three hundred and fifty thousand dollars from the T. bataar sale—"he then would reinvest into subsequent fossil projects because of the love of his craft."
Prokopi grew up hunting shark teeth and other fossils on the shores and in the rivers of central Florida. Now forty, he's tall, with the broad-shouldered build of a swimmer, and he doesn't talk a lot. He easily might have put his University of Florida engineering degree to better use—and he did, to the extent that he used his education to renovate and flip houses—but what really captivated him was hunting prehistoric animal treasure. He got interested in Mongolian dinosaurs through the huge fossil-and-mineral show that takes over Tucson each February, attracting many thousands of dealers, buyers, and browsers from around the world. Illicit materials often turn up at the Tucson show and at a smaller one in Denver; the events are rarely policed. A novice could get the impression that selling fossils from Argentina or China or Mongolia is legal, when it isn't.
Working with a Mongolian guide whom Prokopi trusted (and who has since died), Prokopi moved fossils that had been extracted from the Nemegt Formation, a fruitful expanse of Late Cretaceous sandstone and mudstone. He believed that he had permission to do so; once the bones reached a business associate in Great Britain, Prokopi realized that he was dealing with contraband—yet, according to last week's hearing, imported it to the U.S. anyway, largely describing it on customs forms as "reptiles."
The dinosaur arrived in Florida via U.P.S. Prokopi uncrated the nearly three thousand pounds of bones in his back-yard workshop, behind his saltwater swimming pool. Using techniques that he had learned from half a lifetime of hunting and prepping fossils, he cleaned and restored the remains, and reassembled a creature—eight feet tall, twenty-four feet long. Many months later, he sold the specimen at auction, in New York, to an anonymous bidder, for just over a million dollars. The buyer was Coleman Burke, a Manhattan real-estate developer, lawyer, and adventurer who wanted the T. bataar as a showpiece for his office building, on the West Side Highway. (Burke, who is in his seventies, had hunted fossils in Argentina.)
The sale did not go through. The government of Mongolia heard about the auction and, through Robert Painter, a Houston lawyer, sued for the recovery of the T. bataar. Prokopi tried to save his investment by brokering a quiet deal with the Mongolians. Just four days after the sale, in an e-mail exchange with the company that had handled the auction, Prokopi wrote, "If the Mongolian president is indeed only interested in getting to the bottom of the [fossil] sources, and wants to look good for his people, I think I can help him do that if he is willing to cooperate and compromise. If he only wants to take the skeleton and try to put an end to the black market, he will have a fight and will only drive the black market deeper underground." Prokopi advised that he knew "just about all of the people involved in the business of central asian fossils, and could offer ideas and help to make permanent changes that would nearly eliminate the black market."
The offer became leverage after Prokopi's legal troubles grew from a civil action to a criminal one. His "substantial assistance" generated greater knowledge about the black market in fossils, a market that Bell said "was sufficiently ignored for a time" and "able to hide in plain sight." TheT. bataar case is "part of what you might call … a law-enforcement renaissance when it comes to this particular field of dealing in stolen fossils," the prosecutor said. Investigations are now pending in Wyoming, California, and New York, based on information that Prokopi gave the federal government.
In April, a fossil dealer who sold pieces through By Nature Gallery shops in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Avon, Colorado, pleaded guilty to conspiring to smuggle fossils from China. The plea agreement called for Rick Rolater, who is sixty-nine, to surrender fossils that included aTyrannosaurus skull from Mongolia. Prosecutors described some shipments as intentionally mislabelled to pass inspection. A federal judge ordered Rolater to serve two years of supervised probation and to pay a twenty-five-thousand-dollar fine, but expressed skepticism that the punishment would have an impact. "He knew better, but he liked the money," Judge Scott Skavdahl reportedly said in court.
In court in Manhattan, Prokopi wore a dark suit and a silver tie. His parents were there, along with his ex-wife, Amanda. After the civil suit and the criminal charges, the Prokopis lost their home in Florida and moved to Amanda's hometown of Williamsburg, Virginia. The stress of the changes ended the marriage. Eric is now bankrupt. "He's in debt six figures," Lederman told the judge.
Hellerstein expressed concern about Prokopi's level of remorse. Prokopi stood and said, "What I did was wrong, and I failed to appreciate the gravity" of the crimes. "My life has been devastated by these mistakes, but I have not lost my love for paleontology, and hope to rebuild my business with more emphasis on proper documentation." Prokopi added that he regretted any damage he may have caused to the relationship between commercial and academic paleontology. "I hope I can repair that.… I have never and will never condone destruction of specimens merely for profit."
The judge stepped out to consider the sentence. Returning, he said, "Mr. Prokopi is an unusual person. He is following a discipline that not very many people follow. The fact that he's following it and helping to create a market for it is important in the study of fossils, and the study of fossils is important in our understanding of life on Earth." (Science would refute the judge's comment that it's important that a market be created; the market for fossils is what drives poaching.)
"He's clearly not a bad person, but he's done a bad thing," Hellerstein went on.
Prokopi could have been sentenced to several years in prison. Hellerstein sentenced him to three months, followed by three months in community detention, which Lederman described as "a sort of halfway house." Court adjourned; the Prokopis drove back to Virginia. "This past year and a half has been devastating to our family," Amanda told me in an e-mail. "I'm still Eric's biggest fan, and we will continue to deal with this situation in the coming years."
Prokopi has the summer to spend with his children. He will report to prison at 2 P.M. on September 9th. Through Painter, Mongolia's President, Tsakhia Elbegdorj, told me that Prokopi's sentencing "sends a strong message to smugglers that they will be prosecuted, and that there is a serious price that will be paid for their crimes."
The dinosaur, meanwhile, is home. Korean Air flew it back to Mongolia "first class," gratis. (Authorities from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement division of the Department of Homeland Security called the T. bataar "clearly one of the most exceptional, if not the most exceptional," pieces of cultural property ever returned to a foreign government.) Prokopi had named the specimen Ty, but its mother country calls it Mongol Baatar—"Mongolian hero." It went on temporary display in Ulaanbaatar, the capital, where some seven hundred thousand of the nation's three million people saw it. Mongol Baatar is now on display in a provincial museum in Darkhan, and can also be seen in and on a proliferating number of paintings, T-shirts, coffee mugs, and paperweights throughout the country. One day, Mongol Baatar will return to Ulaanbaatar as the star of a new tourist destination: an old Lenin attraction that's being transformed into the nation's first museum of dinosaurs.
Mogi: at least tell who took 1st and 2nd, UB Post
Mongolia takes 3rd at FILA Junior Asian Championships
June 8 (UB Post) The Wrestling FILA Junior Asian Championships 2014 kicked off at Buyant-Ukhaa Sports Venue on Thursday and concluded on Sunday. The championships featured 230 junior wrestlers from 14 countries.
After Day 3, Mongolia ranked third in provisional medal count with a total of two gold, three silver and six bronze medals.
On Day 1, Greco-Roman qualification rounds, repechages and the finals took place. Mongolian Greco-Roman wrestler P.Erdenebileg of Aldar Sports Committee competed in the men's 55kg and was crowned a champion after beating Maleki Behrooz Irvan of Iran with the final score of 9:0 in the gold medal match.
In the semifinals, P.Erdenebileg wrestled against Risin Mzong of North Korea and won 9:3. He beat Chinese wrestler Shaletanate Yeerenbike and Zarlykhanov Damir of Kazakhstan in his previous matches.
In the men's Greco Roman 66kg category, Mongolian wrestler N.Amarsaikhan of Khargant-Tsamkhag sports club won a bronze medal after defeating Hung Ying Hua of Chinese Taipei.
In last year's FILA Junior Asian Championships, Mongolian Greco-Roman wrestlers brought home only one bronze medal, while this year, they showed a brilliant performance and seized gold and bronze medals on Day 1 alone.
On Day 2, women's 44kg, 51kg, 59kg and 67kg freestyle matches were organized.
In the women's 44kg category, Mongolian wrestler L.Battogtokh beat Otamurodova Zuhra of Kyrgyzstan in the seminal and qualified for the bronze medal match in which she had a bye and seized the medal.
In the women's 51kg, T.Munkhtuya secured a bronze medal after beating Japan's Sakagami Fubuki on Day 2.
In the women's 59kg, S.Tserenchimed wrestled against Yui Sakano of Japan in the final, but unfortunately lost the match 5:6 and settled for a silver medal. She beat Pooja Dhanda of India in the semifinal, while South Korean wrestler Lim Hu Yeong was her opponent in the quarterfinal.
In the 67kg category, O.Oyungerel displayed an outstanding performance and won a silver medal. She lost her final match to Japan's Ayana Gempei with 1:5, but won against Kozhamberdi Ulbossyn of Kazakhstan 6:0 in the semifinal.
On Day 3, Ts.Mandalsuren beat Yun Min Hyeok of South Korea in the bronze medal match in the men's freestyle 50kg.
In the men's freestyle 120kg, E.Munkhbaatar also secured a bronze medal after beating Tao Qiang of China.
In the women's freestyle 55kg, A.Battsetseg became champion after winning the match for gold against Rumi Hirose of Japan. She defeated Zhao Miaomiao of China in the semifinal.
In the women's 63kg, B.Nyamgerel advanced to the gold medal match against Yekaterina Larionova of Kazakhstan but lost the game, settling for a silver medal. She beat Chen Wen Ling of Chinese Taipei in the semifinal.
In the women's 72kg, P.Nomin-Erdene competed against Park Chae of South Korea for bronze and won the match, raising the number of Mongolian medalists.
Ulaanbaatar, June 6 (MONTSAME) Young violinist O.Baigali and pianist B.Oyu are to give a concert themed "The Tunes of Mongolia" at the showroom of MSM Company, on June 28.
At the concert, young musicians will play Mongolian best music compositions by great composers B.Damdinsuren, L.Mordorj, B.Sharav, Z.Khangal, E.Choidog, J.Chuluun and N.Jantsannorov.
In 2013, our artists performed a joint concert themed "The Best of World Classics" in Ulaanbaatar and Hong-Kong.
Golden Reel International Film Festival, Ulaanbaatar, June 21
The Film Festival was successfully organized by the art-film NGO Golden Reel under the name of "Underground Film Festival Mongolia" in 2013.
During the Golden Reel International Film Festival organizers will promote the local film industry and screen foreign underground, avant-garde films to Mongolian audience with the official rights and display Mongolian film makers` and the art-film NGO`s film makers` short films.
Anyone who is a citizen of Mongolia, aged over 18 will be welcomed to the Golden Reel International Film Festival to submit their short films.
Organizers set no limit on subject or uniqueness of the short films.
Video footage for the film festival will be received at the Red ger gallery between June 9th and 13th.
MONGOLIA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
6 June 2014 - Submission Now Open!
The 5th Mongolia International Film Festival will be held in:
· 24 October, Auckland, New Zealand
· 15 - 16 November, Los Angeles, USA
Submissions for 2014 are now open! Submit your films here.
We look forward to seeing cinema from all walks of life!
Mongolian Academy Awards 2014 to be organized on June 13
June 8 (UB Post) The highest movie awards of the Mongolian National Film Academy, the Academy Awards, is scheduled to take place at Mongol Shiltgeen on June 13.
Mongolian films produced and screened between June of 2013 to June 8 of 2014 will compete in this year's Academy Awards.
The Mongolian National Film Academy was founded in 2008 with the purpose to select best artists, to introduce newly screened works and to register movies, documentary films and short films in the Mongolian film archive.
This year's Academy Awards will award artists and film makers in 18 categories:
• Best picture
• Best male protagonist
• Best supporting actor
• Best female protagonist
• Best supporting actress
• Best director
• Best cameraman
• Best art director
• Best music
• Best song
• Best montage
• Best sound engineer
• Best writer
• Best visual effect
• Best make-up
• Best documentary film
• Best investor
• Best short film
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