Former Centerra Gold CEO avoids extradition to Kyrgyzstan as Bulgarian court rejects request – by Peter Koven (National Post – October 8, 2015)

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Len Homeniuk’s long nightmare is almost over.

The former chief executive of Toronto-based Centerra Gold Inc. expects to head home to California later this month after a Bulgarian court Wednesday refused to extradite him to Kyrgyzstan on corruption charges. Homeniuk always maintained the allegations are false.

“The court had a complex issue to deal with, and it dealt with it in the right way,” he said in a phone interview from Sofia. “So I’m very pleased.”

Homeniuk, 68, was arrested by Bulgarian authorities on July 27 while on a vacation cruise on the Danube River with his family. The joint Canada-U.S. citizen spent 11 days in prison, and then spent several weeks under house arrest in Sofia with his wife. He was finally granted bail in mid-September, but could not leave the country until the Bulgarian court ruled on the extradition request.

The ruling was very definitive. The judges noted that Kyrgyzstan did not provide the correct documentation, did not provide evidence that the statute of limitation still applied to the allegations, and did not treat Homeniuk fairly compared to other defendants in the case.

The Bulgarians first arrested Homeniuk because Kyrgyzstan put him on Interpol’s wanted persons list. Homeniuk believes the only reason the Kyrgyz government did that is because it wanted leverage in its current negotiations with Centerra over ownership of the Kumtor gold mine not far from the Kyrgyz-China border. Those talks have dragged on for more than two years with no resolution in sight.

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