In 2009 Mongolian Government expanded the Small and Medium Enterprises Support Fund /SMES/ to support small and medium-sized enterprises. The fund provided companies with low-interest loans at 3 percent interest per year, up to five years and 2 billion Mongolian tugriks roughly $780,000 at today’s exchange rate. Which has been one of the most favorable conditions to start and develop SME in our country, because average interest on SME loans by commercial banks are from 18-20 percent which is very high for people who are starting just their own businesses. The fund was created in and continues to be overseen by The Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Light Industry.
Small and Medium Enterprises contribute about 17 percent of Mongolia’s GDP and 2.3 percent of exports but struggle with high-profit taxes and fluctuating local currency. About 65 billion tugriks total of 25.4 million US dollars was allocated to the fund in the State budget of 2018.
But over the year there had been rumors and facts that senior government officials may have been channeled to the government money through the companies that were related to their families and friends.
Therefore, the first allegations of \”Small and Medium Enterprises Support Fund embezzlement by Mongolian politicians\” was found and posted on social media among citizens in September of 2018.
Based on those allegations and facts iKon.mn News team used and checked three public databases published and maintained by government agencies. Through comparative analysis and identifying discrepancies wealth and income disclosure report of more than 35,000 public officials in Mongolia, using in-house developed software.
We began to publish first findings of the companies that received loans are tied to prominent politicians through ownership of the Small and Medium Enterprises that benefited in October of 2018. Since then we have published more than 100 articles related to SME and other public fund and still, no one disputed the leaked lists, suggesting that they are genuine.
All published facts were confirmed by SME Fund official numbers, annual wealth and income disclosure report issued by the Independent Authority Against Corruption and public company information of Mongolia\’s Stock Exchange.
As a direct result of our report and findings were published, current 14 members of parliament, including 3 ministers, 1 deputy minister, and other senior government officials like The State General Prosecutor\’s Office, The General intelligence Agency, State Professional Inspection Agency, Mongolian National Audit Office, Police offices are benefited from that very low-interest loans of State Budget. Also, former minister of Food, Agriculture, and Light Industry B.Batzorig offered his resignation. This helped to set a precedent use of data to ensure government accountability while also underlining the importance of transparent reporting from government agencies.
Finally, iKon News team is pleased to announce that we have received “Transparency Award 2018” for Integrity and Anti-Corruption from Transparency International Organization, for reporting SMES Fund embezzlement by Mongolian politicians. Also, iKon News team has been awarded as “The Best website” of the year in 2018 for the second year in a row named by The Union of Mongolian Journalists.
In Mongolia there are 28 special funds like the SME fund, which we are still working on more evidence of malfeasance is yet to come.
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