Foreign Minister Bob Carr
Foreign Minister Bob Carr

Firm not talking on Aussie woman's detention in Mongolia

THE Hong Kong-based firm behind an Australian woman's detention in Mongolia as part of a corruption investigation has refused to comment on claims she was banned from leaving the country as retaliation for providing information against Mongolian authorities.

Sarah Armstrong, 32, is due to meet again with Mongolian authorites on the weekend.

In July, SouthGobi lodged a "notice of investment dispute" against Mongolia after it refused to honour pre-mining agreements.

The Australian reported the company had concerns about the country detaining executives after the investment action.

On Thursday, Foreign Minister Bob Carr told media an extra diplomat from South Korea would be dispatched to Mongolia to assist Australia's Consul-General to Mongolia David Lawson.

Tasmanian newspaper The Advocate reported Ms Armstrong's mother Yvonne was warned by her daughter that the investigation could last until Christmas.

SouthGobi Resources counts Rio Tinto as a majority shareholder and operates a number of projects in the country's South Gobi province.

SouthGobi external affairs vice-president Dave Bartel told APN he was not sure when Ms Armstrong would next be questioned by Mongolian authorities.

"She has a travel ban preventing her from leaving Mongolia," he said.

"Neither the company nor any employees, including Ms Armstrong, have been charged with wrongdoing.

"She is not under arrest and is free to travel within Mongolia."

He said the Australian was being questioned on investigations being run by the Independent Authority Against Corruption.

As for reports of retaliation from the Mongolian Government, Mr Bartel said SouthGobi could not comment on the speculation and would continue to co-operate with the investigations.



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