YANGON—The controversial chairman of the United Democratic Party (UDP) has been detained by police as part of an investigation into his escape from prison in the late 1990s, while he was serving a 10-year sentence for flouting Myanmar’s business laws, according to the Union President’s Office.
The arrest in Yangon followed a recent comment by the President’s Office spokesperson that authorities had launched an investigation in the wake of media reports about Michael Kyaw Myint’s shady background, including accusations that he laundered money for a powerful ethnic armed group and fled his prison sentence.
“He was arrested last night under a police warrant, as he is a fugitive,” spokesperson U Zaw Htay said on Tuesday, adding that existing investigations into his activities are ongoing.
Established by Michael Kyaw Myint (or Michael Hua Hu), the UDP is fielding 1,130 candidates in November’s general election—almost as many as the ruling National League for Democracy (NLD). The party is popularly known as the “Red Rose” party, after its logo.
After his escape from prison, he traveled first to the US and then Canada, reportedly with the help of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). In Thailand, he reportedly met US diplomats in Bangkok and provided information about illicit drug activities in Myanmar. He then went to the US.
In a story published by the Vancouver Sun in April 2009, U Kyaw Myint said the DEA helped him to obtain political asylum in the US and he moved to New Jersey. He moved to Canada in 2002, seeking political asylum and residing in Vancouver.
In the same year, U Kyaw Myint made headlines in Canada when trading in Future Canada China Environment Inc., with which he is allegedly associated, was halted by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, when the value of the company’s stock rose rapidly to more than US$1 billion.
Michael Kyaw Myint recently denied all the accusations against him.
Ahead of Myanmar’s general election in 2010, U Kyaw Myint recruited some politicians in Myanmar and established the UDP inside the country.
It is still a mystery how someone with a background as checkered as U Kyaw Myint’s was able to establish and register a political party in Myanmar.
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