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Bulgarian authorities detain former Centerra Gold CEO

Len Homeniuk, former president and CEO of Centerra Gold.

Tibor Kolley/The Globe and Mail

Authorities in Bulgaria have detained Centerra Gold Inc.'s former chief executive officer in a move the company says was apparently related to the restructuring of its Kumtor project in Kyrgyzstan more than a decade ago.

Len Homeniuk was on vacation when detained, John Pearson, Centerra's vice-president of investor relations, said Monday. His family is still in Bulgaria, Mr. Pearson added.

Details are few and far between, but Mr. Homeniuk, who was acting CEO and president of Centerra from 2004 to 2008, was detained apparently at the request of Kyrgyzstani officials.

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"Centerra is deeply concerned about the detention of Mr. Homeniuk while on a family holiday, and supports his efforts to review the legality of his detention," the mining company said in a statement, adding it has been given no official reasons for the detainment.

"However, the detention appears to be related to claims by the Kyrgyz Republic authorities of alleged improper transactions with Kyrgyz officials in connection with the restructuring of the Kumtor project in the 2003-2004 time period," it said. "Centerra has repeatedly publicly stated that it is not aware of any valid basis for these allegations, which it believes to be entirely unfounded. Centerra has repeatedly requested information from Kyrgyz Republic authorities as to the factual basis for the allegations but such information has not been provided to it."

Centerra has investigated the claims and found "no proof or support," Mr. Pearson added .

"As far as we are concerned, there was no illegal activity, no illegal transactions," he said.

Canadian officials in Bulgaria and Kyrgyzstan could not be reached. Nor could consular officials of the two countries in Canada.

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