REFILE-Mongolia jails American, 2 Philippine citizens in tax evasion case

Sun Feb 1, 2015 11:47pm EST
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(Refiles to fix location in dateline, adds Mongolia story code)

By Terrence Edwards

ULAN BATOR Jan 30 (Reuters) - Resource-rich Mongolia on Friday jailed an American and two Filipinos for more than five years after finding them guilty of tax evasion, ending a three-year case that deterred investors.

Perceived resource nationalism in Mongolia, fed by suspicion at foreigners taking control of some of the world's largest coal and copper deposits, has led to an annual decline of 71 percent in foreign investment in the year to November 2014.

Prosecutors said a panel of judges levied a fine of $35 billion tugrik ($18 million) on Toronto-listed SouthGobi Resources Ltd., besides the prison terms for the men, former employees of the firm.

The "verdict was guilty," the general prosecutor's office said in a brief statement.

The three men were U.S. citizen Justin Kapla, and Philippine citizens Hilarion Cajucom Jr and Cristobal David.

U.S. Ambassador Piper Campbell and some embassy staff attended the trial, where they noted "several interpretation problems", the U.S. embassy in Mongolia said in a statement.

"Because of these problems, the defendants stated during the trial that they could not understand the interpretation, nor could they express themselves clearly," the embassy added.   Continued...