Police Open Probe into Owner of Disputed Ngapali Beach Resort

By Moe Myint 5 June 2018

YANGON – Mingalardon police have accepted a breach-of-trust case filed by a German businessman against his former local business partner, the current owner of Amara Ocean Resort (AOR) on southern Rakhine’s scenic Ngapali Beach.

The case was opened under Section (408) of the Penal Code, which carries maximum sentence of seven years’ imprisonment and a fine.

The township police chief’s office confirmed by phone on Monday that police are investigating the case and directed The Irrawaddy to call the township police station for details. Philipp Quack, a German national who is acting as plaintiff on behalf of his boss Dr. Jens Ehrhardt, chief executive officer (CEO) of Germany-based DJE Kapital group, filed an initial complaint to Myoma Mingalardon police station in April. Police received a First Information Report (FIR) from the investor at that time.

In 2009, Daw Kalayar Moe and her German husband Gerald Schreiber (they divorced in 2012) launched a project worth millions of dollars to develop a resort on a profit-sharing basis with German investor Eva Feltan on a 17-acre plot of land on Ngapali Beach. The resort is situated in Gaw village, a few miles from Thandwe Airport. Feltan held a 50-percent stake, with Daw Kalayar Moe and Schreiber holding 25 percent each. The three parties agreed to register the company under Daw Kalayar Moe’s name, as foreign investment was highly discouraged at that time, when Myanmar was still under military rule.

Two years later, Feltan sold her 50 percent stake to Ehrhardt. According to Schreiber, Ehrhardt invested a total of USD4.32 million in the resort’s construction; the money was transferred to the couple’s joint account in a Singapore bank. Schreiber now accuses his ex-wife of cheating Ehrhardt of at least USD1 million by providing fabricated financial information about the project.

After Daw Kalayar Moe officially divorced Schreiber in Germany in 2012, she refused to sell her stake or buy out her co-investors. As part of the divorce proceedings she was ordered to declare her assets but failed to do so. In a separate suit brought by Ehrhardt she was fined 15,000 euros and ordered to repay USD437,500 to DJE Group. She has not done so. In May 2018, a Munich court also ordered her unconditional arrest, applicable throughout the EU, for failing to provide information on the resort’s tourist booking numbers and annual income from 2012 t0 2017.

It is unclear whether Daw Kalayar Moe has appealed the fine. She could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

Quack said he was summoned by police last Friday to show that he had a valid visa and to provide witnesses as well as original documents relating to the AOR resort. He said he has a list of seven to 10 witnesses willing to testify on his behalf at the police station. They are mostly former employees of the resort, including both Myanmar nationals and foreigners.

“This is the very initial stage of the case,” he said.

According to lawyer U Nay Win, the case first needs approval from district police, and later from the Attorney General’s Office, before it can proceed to the court. During the investigation period, police can detain the suspect, as Section (408) of the Penal Code stipulates that bail cannot be granted in such cases.

Over the years, Ehrhardt has sought help from both the former government, led by then President U Thein Sein’s Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP), as well as current National League for Democracy (NLD)-led administration, but without success. In early May, Myanmar President’s Office Deputy Minister U Min Thu replied to Schreiber via a brief statement sent to the German Embassy in Yangon. According to the statement, the case is under scrutiny, and the Ministry of Planning and Finance and the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism have been instructed to take “proper action” based on an investigation by the anti-money laundering agency, which wrapped up on March 5. The findings of the probe have not been made public.

The AOR’s hotel license was revoked by the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism in May 2017 but received a temporary operating license for 2018 after senior NLD official U Win Htein spent a couple of days there.