BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan, Dec. 17, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Over the past week, Kyrgyz authorities tried to disrupt the operations of Mina Corp. in Kyrgyzstan by attempting to conduct an illegal raid on the company 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 gross 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.
However, the Kyrgyz authorities' campaign of harassment and intimidation continues. On December 17, Kyrgyz authorities returned to Mina's offices to try to conduct unlawful "interrogations" of Mina personnel.
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. This abuse of legal process 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, certain Kyrgyz officials have engaged in a campaign of disinformation to undermine Mina'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 false charges made by Kyrgyz authorities and set the record straight.
SOURCE Mina Corp.