Myanmar’s junta has filed corruption charges against one of the country’s top tycoons, U Chit Khine, his managing director and three ousted National League for Democracy (NLD) government ministers for allegedly causing the loss of state funds.
U Chit Khine is the chairman of the Eden Group of Companies, one of Myanmar’s largest conglomerates, with interests in construction, hospitality and oil and gas among other sectors. He was arrested on Monday evening in Yangon upon his return from an overseas trip. U Chit Khine also runs the Myanmar Apex Bank and Denko trading, which operates gas stations across Myanmar and an industrial oil storage facility in Yangon.
Many people believe that the reason for the tycoon’s arrest is his close relationship with detained leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the NLD. U Chit Khine was a member of the NLD and spent time in prison in the 1990s during the former military dictatorship.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit Myanmar in 2020, U Chit Khine was one of the top cronies who donated US$1.5 million to the then NLD government for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines.
His detention on Monday was celebrated by pro-regime accounts on the social media app Telegram, some of which threatened other business leaders who are close to the ousted NLD government.
On Tuesday, the military regime announced that U Chit Khine and six others had been charged under the Anti-Corruption Law for causing losses of around 15.9 billion kyats (US$8.57 million) of state funds in the Tigyit power plant joint venture for the Electric Power Generation Enterprise under the then NLD-run Ministry of Electricity and Energy.
Also charged with U Chit Khine are the former Minister for Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation U Ohn Win, former Minister for Electricity and Energy U Win Khaing and deputy minister Dr. Tun Naing, the former managing director of No. (1) Mining Enterprise U Kyaw San, the ex-managing director of the Electric Power Generation Enterprise U Than Naing Oo, and the Eden Group’s managing director U Win Min Khine.
All of them face potential maximum prison sentences of 15 years each.
Last month, the junta also detained the crony U Khin Shwe and his son U Zay Thiha, following a conflict over a failed building project on military-owned land in Yangon. The pair have been in detention in Insein Prison since then.
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