More corruption cases expected after Magway oil scandal: NLD

By NYAN HLAING LYNN | FRONTIER

NAY PYI TAW — Senior National League for Democracy member U Win Htein says he expects further cases involving misuse of state funds under the previous government to emerge.

His comments follow the recent revelation that K7.45 billion raised by taxing oil producers in Magway Region during the U Thein Sein era was unaccounted for – the first confirmed case of misappropriation of state funds to emerge under the NLD government.

“There are some hints [of corruption] in other states and regions as well,” U Win Htein, an NLD central executive committee member, told reporters in Nay Pyi Taw on May 4. “How strong or accurate and how big are those hints? It will emerge gradually.”

Former Magway chief minister U Phone Maw Shwe has offered to repay around K3.25 billion by the end of July and already returned five vehicles to the regional government.

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The offer came following a months-long investigation by the Ministry of Home Affairs’ Bureau of Special Investigations that included interviews with dozens of people.

Based on the findings, the Magway Region government released an announcement stating that K1.7 billion had been allocated to a Magway Region development foundation and K1.5 billion to a microfinance institution, Shwe Thukha. It also said the funds were used to “donate” five vehicles, including a backhoe, to the Union Solidarity and Development Party, of which Phone Maw Shwe was the regional branch chairman.

The USDP has described the allegations as a “political attack” and denied any involvement.

Despite the findings of BSI, the government has indicated it will not take legal action against those involved. Asked whether Phone Maw Shwe or others would face any charges, Win Htein said, “We can always look backward at any time, but we don’t want to as we are focused on national reconciliation.”

The scandal has also engulfed at least one lawmaker from the NLD. As Frontier recently reported, its Amyotha Hluttaw representative for the seat of Magway-1, U Hla San, was listed as the auditor of the regional development foundation.

Hla San, a Magway-based businessman prior to winning a seat in 2015, told Frontier in a recent interview that he only discovered that he was auditor of the organisation when made aware of it during the recent investigation. He said that because he was regularly involved in social work in Magway, some organisations used his name without his permission.

“They [BSI] did not investigate on me because I have nothing to do with this,” Hla San said.

Asked how the party would handle Hla San’s alleged involvement in the foundation, Win Htein responded, “If he was involved [in the case], he will have to take responsibility depending on the extent of his involvement.”

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