Ex-SouthGobi workers long stuck in Mongolia get trial date

Three former SouthGobi Resources (TSX: SGQ) employees, long detained in Mongolia, may be a step closer to freedom as a Mongolian court will finally hear their case next week.

The Court of Justice will hear the tax investigation case into SouthGobi and the three on June 30, the company said in a statement dated Tuesday.

Hilarion Cajucom Jr. and Cristobal David of the Philippines and U.S. citizen Justin Kapla have been barred from leaving the country since 2012, when the probe began.

All three deny the charges against them.

"My career has been destroyed and I don't know when I will be able to leave," Cajucom, previously an accountant at SouthGobi, was quoted by Bloomberg as saying.

A storm in the Philippines last year destroyed David's family home, according to Bloomberg. The family had to be evacuated while David, trapped in Mongolia, could do nothing.

The case involves allegations that SouthGobi evaded taxes between 2007 and 2011, allegations the company dismisses.

The Mongolia-focused coal producer, which is 56% owned by Vancouver-based Turquoise Hill Resources (TSE:TRQ), said it has prepared its financial statements in compliance with International Financial Reporting Standards and lodged all tax returns as required under Mongolian tax law.

The case has made Mongolia's legal system, which allows officials to place travel bans on suspects and witnesses, the subject of international scrutiny.

More than 50 foreign miners, bankers, accountants and charity workers are unable to leave Mongolia in connection with investigations of their employers. Some such investigations have gone on for years.