New Commission Formed to Investigate Alleged Gems Association Embezzlement

By Htet Naing Zaw 9 June 2016

A new investigation commission will be formed to look into the Myanmar Gems Traders Association’s financial scandal, involving allegations of more than US$100 million that went missing from their bank account, according to the organization’s chairman.

At a press conference at the association’s headquarters on Wednesday, chairman Yone Mu told reporters that the decision to form a new commission to further investigate the unexplained loss was made during a meeting of the gems traders on Tuesday. A previous review was conducted and finalized this week by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation but complainants still want to know who is to blame.

“Actions will be taken against anyone who misappropriated funds,” said Yone Mu.

The new commission will consist of experts, complainants and defendants of the alleged embezzlement, according to the Myanmar Gems Traders Association.

Aung Gyi, chairman of the Sagaing Division Gems Traders Association, said the probe would mainly look into the supposed misappropriation of $10 million transferred from the Myanmar Jade and Gems Emporium Central Committee to the Myanmar Gems Traders Association.

“The central committee consists of the Myanmar Gems Traders Association chairman, ten vice-chairpersons and secretaries. It is impossible that they don’t know where the money has gone. If they know, they should tell,” said Aung Gyi, adding, “We want a new transparent chairman who is dedicated to serving the interests of the association.”

However, Yone Mu said he does not know anything about the alleged transaction because the former Ministry of Mines had managed the expenditures of the central committee, adding that he would not take responsibility for the as yet unexplained loss.

“The funds of the Gems Emporium Central Committee and the Myanmar Gems Traders associations are different. There is no connection and I have no idea [about the missing money],” said Yone Mu. “It has been said that former President U Thein Sein took $7 million and U Soe Thein took $5 million. We don’t know; it has nothing to do with us. It was all managed by the central committee,”

Vice chairman of the Myanmar Gems Traders Association Myint Han told reporters that since 2006 there has been a 1 percent annual tax levied on gems traders who sell their products at the emporium. He said he has told the central committee that association members deserve to know where their money was allocated.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.