The former chief executive officer of Toronto-based Centerra Gold Inc., who has spent weeks under house arrest in Bulgaria, says a court there has agreed for him to be released on $20,000 (U.S.) bail.
Len Homeniuk, 68, said on Wednesday that he expected to be free to venture outside the Sofia apartment where he has been spending his house arrest as early as Thursday afternoon or Friday morning.
The former CEO of Centerra, which operates a massive gold mine in Kyrgyzstan, was picked up while on a holiday cruise down the Danube by Bulgarian border police in late July.
He was detained after Kyrgyzstan had Interpol issue a red notice calling for his arrest on "corruption" allegations – allegations both Mr. Homeniuk and Centerra dismiss as baseless.
Earlier this week, the Bulgarian court hearing his case demanded more information from Kyrgyzstan about the charges and the country's statute of limitations, and rescheduled a hearing to determine whether Mr. Homeniuk should be extradited to Kyrgyzstan for Oct. 7. Mr. Homeniuk will have to remain in Bulgaria until the hearing, but he will be free to ride a bike or go out for dinner with his wife, who has been staying with him.
"It's the first positive decision we've had," Mr. Homeniuk said in a phone interview. "It was endorsed by the prosecutor. She said that they saw no reason why I should be contained under house arrest and agreed to the bail."
Mr. Homeniuk, a dual Canadian-American citizen who left his post as CEO of Centerra in 2008, dismisses the allegations as nothing more than an attempt by Kyrgyzstan to pressure Centerra as the company and the government continue drawn-out talks over increasing the former Soviet republic's stake in the gold mine.
He denies any allegation that he was involved in corruption. The allegations date back to transactions related to the 2003-04 restructuring of the mine, when it was spun off from its former parent company, Saskatoon-based Cameco Corp.
"I am innocent of these charges and I am going to fight them if it takes my last breath," Mr. Homeniuk said.