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Uzbek Officials Say Deal To Help British Mining Group

(RFE/RL) December 5, 2006 -- Uzbek officials say a decision by the U.K.'s Oxus Gold to sell part of its Amantaytau Gold Fields (AGF) joint venture to a Swiss-registered company with alleged government ties may help the British group sort out its troubles with regional tax authorities.

Uzbekistan's state-controlled media today quoted government officials as saying authorities "are ready to help solve [Oxus Gold's] tax problems within the framework of the existing legislation."

An Uzbek court in October ordered AGF, a 50-50 joint venture between Oxus Gold and the Uzbek government, to pay $224 million in tax arrears.

The British company on November 30 said it had agreed to sell 16 percent of its share in AGF to Zeromax GmbH, a Zug-registered subsidiary of the U.S.-based Zeromax Group.

Zeromax is owned by a Tashkent businessman, Miradil Jalalov, with suspected connections with President Islam Karimov's entourage.

Uzbekistan in August stripped Oxus Gold of its license to develop an ore deposit in southeastern Surkhandariya region.


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