Bus Company Owned by Ex-Dictator Ne Win’s Grandsons at Risk of Lawsuit Over Unpaid Loan

By San Yamin Aung 8 March 2019

YANGON—Two grandsons of Myanmar’s ex-dictator Ne Win may be at risk of being sued by a local bank for failing to repay hire-purchase loans obtained to acquire buses for a transport company they own.

The bus company, Omni Focus, and two of its affiliates—Central Yangon Network Company and Keen Support Company—took out a loan of 56 billion kyats (US$36.8 million) from AYA Bank in 2017 to buy 500 new buses to be operated by Yangon Bus Service (YBS). The loan was sought at the recommendation of Yangon Chief Minister U Phyo Min Thein.

In a statement released on Friday, the bank said it is planning to sue the companies for failing to repay the loans. The bank said it had attempted to communicate with the companies for several months, including sending bank notices and legal notices requesting repayment, as per the bank’s procedures.

U Myint Zaw, managing director of AYA Bank, told The Irrawaddy on Friday that the three companies failed to make at least 50 billion kyats in repayments, including interest and late penalties, over the past 17 months.

“As a bank, we gave them loan within the bank compliance and procedures. And now they have missed the deadline to make the repayment. We would like to urge them to repay the loan,” he said.

U Kyaw Ne Win of the Omni Focus Company and officials from AYA Bank met separately with the Yangon Regional Parliament’s Finance, Planning and Economy Committee on Thursday to discuss the dispute.

Regional lawmaker U Kyaw Zeya, who is a member of the committee, told The Irrawaddy that the loans were provided because the regional government told the bank to do so. He said the bank officials said that while other companies repay their loans regularly, the three companies, which are all under Omni Focus, failed to pay. He added that U Kyaw Ne Win acknowledged receiving notices from the bank.

During the meeting, U Kyaw Ne Win complained of the difficulties that his company is facing, including the fact that the bus lines are losing money; what he described as the Yangon Region Transport Authority’s failure to keep its promise to offer assistance to bus companies operating under the YBS; and a delay in the implementation of a cash payment system.

“He said he doesn’t mind the lawsuit. If he is sued, he will disclose his difficulties to the public,” U Kyaw Zeya quoted U Kyaw Ne Win as saying.

A few hours after AYA Bank released its press statement, the bus company responded, saying it informed the bank on Jan. 31 that it would attempt to meet the repayment deadline.

However, U Myint Zaw said AYA Bank had no knowledge of the company’s claim.