New Criminal Case Opened Against Rogue Businessman

By Htun Htun 7 December 2018

YANGON—Police have begun an investigation into the complaint of a private bank against a company for their failure to repay a 1.5 billion kyats ($644,000) loan, said officials of Pabedan Township Police Station in Yangon.

The Global Treasure Bank, a public company which was first established as a semi-government bank in 1996 under the name Myanmar Livestock and Fisheries Development, filed a complaint on Monday against U Soe Tun Shein, executive director of Asian Prosperity Export Import Co. Ltd., and its three other directors.

“We opened a civil case against them regarding the loans some six years ago. We won the lawsuit, and as we were working to sequestrate the factory [owned by U Soe Tun Shein], another person came up with documents and claimed that he is the factory owner,” said U Htin Aung, deputy general manager of Global Treasure Bank.

“[The court] is still investigating. The process took longer [than we expected] and we therefore decided open a criminal case against them,” he said.

According to the Global Treasure Bank, U Soe Tun Shein applied for loans, submitting a recommendation from the Fisheries Department and a list of the company’s assets including its accounts receivable. He received separate loans of 1 billion kyats and 500 million kyats from the bank in 2006.

Despite the company’s accounts showing marine exports totaling around $3.8 million, U Soe Tun Shein never gave back the borrowed money, according to the bank.

For this reason, the bank opened a civil case through Yangon Region High Court against the company in 2013.

Police have previously issued a warrant for the arrest of U Soe Tun Shein, who is also chairman of the gold mining company National Prosperity, for allegedly violating mining laws.

National Prosperity was granted permission to mine for gold in Moehti Moemi, Mandalay Region in 2011 under the agreement that they would pay 5.57 tons of gold to the government in tax over an initial five-year term.

In 2013, the company was allowed to revise the payment period adding a three-year extension and was given permission to continue mining in the area for another 17 years under a production-sharing contract once it paid the full 5.57 tons.

According to the No. 2 Mining Enterprise overseen by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, the company has failed to pay monthly installments totaling 2,032 kilograms of gold since 2013. As a result, the ministry ordered the company to suspend operations at the end of 2017.

Despite the order, the company continued mining in the area. The ministry therefore revoked its mining license in February this year and terminated agreements with the company in May.

In March, the ministry filed a case against the company’s chairman U Soe Tun Shein at the Yamethin Township Police Station in Mandalay Region under the Mines Law for continuing to operate after being ordered to stop and for failing to hand back their mining license.

Punishment for these offenses can be up to seven years’ imprisonment, a 50,000 kyats ($32) fine, or both and the company will never receive permission to mine any minerals in the future.

U Soe Tun Shein was last seen in Yangon in July, and has been banned from traveling outside the country.