Mina Corp.: Kyrgyz Government Moves to Disrupt Jet Fuel Supplies to Key US Military Base Supporting War Effort In AfghanistanBy Mina Corp., PRNE
Thursday, December 16, 2010
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan, December 18, 2010 - Over the past week, Kyrgyz authorities tried to disrupt the operations of
Mina Corp. in Kyrgyzstan by attempting to conduct what the company views to
be an illegal raid and thereby shut down its business. Kyrgyz officials
blocked access to Mina Corp.'s premises on December 10 and continued to bar
entry for several days. The offices were unsealed on December 13 after Mina's
legal team confronted the authorities about the violation of principles of
due process and international law, particularly the U.S.-Kyrgyzstan Agreement
that guarantees the functioning of the Manas Transit Center and protects U.S.
personnel and contractors from interference by local authorities.
On December 17, Kyrgyz authorities returned to Mina's offices to try to
conduct what Mina Corp. felt were unlawful "interrogations" of their
The purported basis for the raid and interrogations is that Mina and
other companies adhered to a tax regime established by the Kyrgyz parliament
under former President Askar Akayev, but which is now disfavored by the
current government. Specifically, the Kyrgyz parliament passed a law in 2005
reducing certain taxes on imported fuel. Mina and several other companies
imported fuel pursuant to that law. However, the current Kyrgyz government
claims that the law was intended to serve the personal benefit of
then-President Askar Akayev rather than the best interests of the Kyrgyz
people. Thus, according to the logic of the Kyrgyz authorities, Mina may have
violated some unspecified criminal law by complying with the existing tax
laws of Kyrgyzstan. The company views this as an abuse of the legal process
which violates, among other things, the U.S.-Kyrgyzstan Agreement, Kyrgyz
law, international law, and United States federal law.
Commenting on these events, Dean Peroff, a partner with Amsterdam &
Peroff and member of Mina's international legal team, said: "The actions of
the Kyrgyz authorities are a clear violation of due process principles
recognized in all countries adhering to the rule of law. Kyrgyz and
international law forbids this type of arbitrary governmental action in
violation of basic rights and fundamental fairness."
William A. Burck, a partner in the Washington D.C. office of Weil,
Gotshal & Manges LLP and also a member of Mina's legal team, added: "The
attempted raid violates the protections accorded to Mina as a U.S. Department
of Defense contractor and amounts to an obstruction of its activities. The
bilateral agreement between Kyrgyzstan and the U.S. government safeguards
U.S. operations at the Manas Transit Center. The continuing harassment of
Mina by the Kyrgyz authorities threatens to disrupt vitally important fuel
supplies for the war effort in Afghanistan."
Mina believes that Kyrgyz officials are using the purported investigation
as a pretext to disrupt and seize the fuel supply chain to the Manas Transit
Center. Leading up to this most recent offensive, Mina claims that certain
Kyrgyz officials have engaged in a campaign of disinformation to undermine
the company's reputation. However, on November 3, the U.S. Department of
Defense confirmed its continuing confidence in Mina by awarding it a new fuel
contract after a competitive bidding process. At the same time, a
subcommittee of the U.S. Congress that had conducted a comprehensive
investigation into alleged improprieties by the companies, saying that it had
not found "any underlying corruption in the Manas fuel contract" and that it
did not find any credible evidence "that the Bakiyev family or their
affiliates owned or received financial benefits from the fuel contractors."
Mina's international legal team, consisting of attorneys from Weil,
Gotshal & Manges, Amsterdam & Peroff, and local Kyrgyz counsel, will continue
to work in Bishkek to defend Mina against the charges made by Kyrgyz
John Lough, +44-203-370-5722, press at minacorp.com
Tags: Bishkek, December 18, Eastern Europe, Kyrgyzstan, Mina Corp.