The Myanmar regime’s “kickback king,” Lieutenant General Moe Myint Tun, has been placed under house arrest for corruption after an investigation that saw the arrest of one of his key subordinates and the interrogations of many businessmen who had dealings with the lieutenant general.
As part of a campaign to rein in soaring commodity prices and foreign exchange rates, the junta last week arrested Major General Yan Naung Soe, who led the junta’s Central Committee on Ensuring Smooth Flow of Trade and Goods. Since then the regime has interrogated hundreds of importers, exporters, bankers and officials at military-owned businesses such as Myawaddy Bank and Myanmar Economic Corporation.
The interrogations revealed that Moe Myint Tun has squirreled away millions of US dollars in bribes from businessmen over the past two years. Some of these businessmen told The Irrawaddy they had to pay him at least US$20,000 or the equivalent in gold and gifts—Louis XIII cognac, with a list price of more than US$4,000 for a 750ml bottle, was highly preferred—just to meet him.
Ranked number six in the Myanmar military, Moe Myint Tun oversaw Myanmar’s economic affairs, chairing the junta-controlled Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC) and the Foreign Exchange Supervisory Committee (FESC). The latter was formed by the regime in response to a dollar shortage and has control over the Central Bank of Myanmar.
Maj-Gen Yan Naung Soe was released in order to act as the junta’s plaintiff against Moe Myint Tun, under whose supervision the major general worked on trade and related issues.
Regime boss Min Aung Hlaing has been seriously embarrassed by the corruption scandal involving Moe Myint Tun, whom he had treated as a protégé. There was even speculation that Moe Myint Tun would be Min Aung Hlaing’s successor.
Ten years junior to Min Aung Hlaing, the 55-year-old was known to be a true believer in the junta chief, earning his trust and rising rapidly through the ranks despite lacking an outstanding military or administrative track record. He became the youngest member of the regime’s governing State Administration Council (SAC) and assumed lucrative posts in the junta-controlled MIC and FESC.