Myanmar Pharmaceutical Factory General Manager’s Corruption Hearing Delayed

By San Yamin Aung 19 September 2019

YANGON—A Yangon court has extended the remand for the general manager of the state-owned Burma Pharmaceutical Industry (BPI) factory, who was detained under corruption charges.

U Khin Maung Myint, the legal adviser to the general manager, Dr. Aung Zaw, said the court extended the remand until Oct. 2 instead of accepting the charges because the prosecution, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), failed to appear in court.

The ACC opened the case on Sept. 6 for alleged improper purchasing of raw materials for the factory, under Article 56 of the Anti-Corruption Law. He was arrested that day.

Following his arrest, the President’s Office also sacked the managing director of the pharmaceutical factory, U Ko Ko Aung, from his post on Sept. 12 over the case.

An official at the ACC told The Irrawaddy that the commission found Dr. Aung Zaw accepted low-quality raw materials for the production of bottles used for intravenous fluids that failed to comply with the company’s tender agreement. The purchase breached regulations and was responsible for the loss of state funds, the source said.

Under the new Anti-Corruption Law, enacted in June last year, the authorities can be prosecuted for wasting public funds, misusing state property or for breaching regulations.

President’s Office spokesman U Zaw Htay told the media in Naypyitaw last week that the ACC had asked for action to be taken against U Ko Ko Aung for negligence in purchasing raw materials.

U Khin Aung Myint said the purchase was to ensure the continued supplies of intravenous fluids for hospitals during a long bidding process.

He said Dr. Aung Zaw had sought approval from U Ko Ko Aung for the purchase.

He added that the case should only be investigated under the Civil Service Act rather than the Anti-Corruption law.

“It is unfair as the managing director was dismissed while Dr. Aung Zaw has been sued with harsh charges [under Anti-Corruption Law],” he said.

Around 100 staff from BPI in Insein gathered at the court to show solidarity with the accused, claiming their general manager was innocent.

Article 56 of the Anti-Corruption Law carries a prison sentence of up to 10 years.

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