By HEIN KO SOE | FRONTIER
YANGON – Anti-corruption officials have reportedly searched the residence of a union minister but officials say they cannot confirm the allegations because the investigation is ongoing.
The Irrawaddy reported that the Anti-Corruption Commission, an independent body chaired by a former minister, U Aung Kyi, had searched the minister’s home. Other news outlets reported that the minister’s home had been searched and his son had been questioned.
Shortly after the reports were published, the ACC on Sunday posted a statement to its official Facebook page saying it was examining 18 cases. All of the cases are at the pre-investigation stage and must remain confidential until they are closed, the statement said.
Commission member U Soe Tint did not confirm or deny reports that the minister’s house had been searched. Speaking by telephone to Frontier on Saturday he said, “According to our commission rules we do not make announcements until a case is confirmed.”
President’s Office spokesman U Zaw Htay said today that an investigation was ongoing, but that he could not provide any further information.
A senior official at the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Bureau of Special Investigation, which investigates economic crimes, denied reports that the bureau had inspected the minister’s house. “We didn’t carry out an inspection, but the Anti-Corruption Commission may have done,” said the official, who declined to be named.
Daw Lei Lei Thwin, another member of the ACC, told Frontier that only commission members have a mandate to investigate complaints sent to the body.
“When we met to discuss the complaints, we did not see anything about [the minister] so I don’t know who would have inspected his residence,” she said.
A third commission member claimed no knowledge of the investigation.
The commission was formed in early 2014 but has been widely criticised for failing to tackle Myanmar’s endemic corruption, although members say they have been hampered by some sections of the 2013 Anti-Corruption Law.
In November 2017, former general and ex-minister Aung Kyi was appointed to head the commission and immediately announced a review of its activities.
The commission has since filed cases against several government officials, including Food and Drug Administration director general Dr Than Htut.
In April, Myanmar’s new president, U Win Myint, met with Aung Kyi and other commission members, and urged them to carry out their duties “decisively and without discrimination”, and to alert him to any “interference” in their anti-corruption investigations.