A couple has been detained for their involvement in running an illegal syndicate which cheated over 10 billion kyats (US$6.5 million) from its members in Lamine, Ye Township in Mon State, according to the police.
Two families had been running the illegal syndicate operation in Lamine in which loans are gambled as a system of saving money which has become popular with people who take the risk in the hope of earning back the cash plus interest.
Anyone can join the syndicate in which members deposit an amount between 500,000 kyats ($326) and 100 million kyats ($65,000) each. At the beginning, people usually get back the money they deposited plus a healthy interest.
However, in Lamine on Tuesday, a large crowd gathered in front of the houses of the two families behind the syndicate and, on hearing their money would not be returned, proceeded to attack the houses.
A number of people were said to have lost up to 10 million kyats each, while one resident of Lamine told The Irrawaddy on Friday that her family had lost 20 million kyats. She said they were so worried about the money that they couldn’t eat or sleep and she hasn’t been able to work.
“It has been four days already, but we still don’t know when we will get our money back,” she said.
The police did not stop the mob on Tuesday, but when the people returned on Wednesday and attempted to damage more houses belonging to the relatives of the syndicate leaders, police officers and lawmakers had to interfere and facilitate negotiations.
Video footage of the brawl which was uploaded to social media by a local named Min Thu Kha showed some people asking for their money to be returned, while others forced their way inside the houses and damaged the properties. At least four houses were damaged, according to local sources who witnessed the event.
The situation was very tense in the first two days (May 21 and 22), but it became stable since then, U Myint Win, a police officer based at Mawlamyine Police State told The Irrawaddy on Friday.
“Two people were arrested because they are the main persons responsible for the [lost] money,” he said.
The man and woman were both charged under articles 120 and 406. Article 120 describes concealing an offence which is punishable with imprisonment, while Article 406 describes a criminal breach of trust.
The detainees are also filing charges against members of the mob for the damage done to their home and property.
U Myint Win said that the police will soon arrest more people who were involved in damaging the properties.
Aung Naing Oo, vice house speaker in the Mon state parliament worked with the local authorities to help negotiate the case and said they found two women who were responsible for the money lost by the syndicate members.
One of the women vowed to pay back the money, while the other couldn’t guarantee it. The woman who said she could not promise repayment has been detained by police along with her husband.
Aung Naing Oo said the incident became violent when the woman who is now detained tried to pay back as much money as she had to some people who asked for it at her house. Since she didn’t have everyone’s money, the other locals beat her and her husband and looted money and gold they found in her house. Her house was
When the crowd forcibly entered her house she ran away to escape them. However, later, while receiving treatment for her injuries at the local hospital, she was detained.
The way the people wanted to solve the problem wasn’t right. It was the wrong way, Aung Naing Oo said, and that’s why he and the other members of the local authorities interfered in the case to instigate a negotiation.
There are more things that need to be investigated, such as where all the money has gone, and who else was involved in this case, he said.
Online open lending and money-saving syndicates are illegal in Myanmar. People willing to operate any money-lending system have to register it with the government.
“People need a license for the system to be legal,” said Aung Naing Oo.
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