New Crony Brokers Israeli Aircraft Parts for Myanmar Air Force

By The Irrawaddy 19 October 2021

Among Myanmar’s emerging cronies with deep business ties to the country’s military is Dr. Tun Min Latt of the Star Sapphire Group of Companies who brokered drones and aircraft parts for the Myanmar Air Force.

The company is in partnership with military-owned business conglomerates — Myanma Economic Holdings Ltd (MEHL) and the Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) — in numerous ventures, according to sources.

The Star Sapphire Group of Companies made a large donation to Myanmar’s military following its clearance operations against the Rohingya in Rakhine State during 2017, according to a 2019 United Nations fact-finding mission report.

The military operations caused the exodus of over 700,000 Rohingya and led to accusations of genocide by the international community.

Dr. Tun Min Latt was named in the UN mission report on the military’s economic interests as a significant shareholder in Star Sapphire. He has been important in securing imports of Israeli reconnaissance drones and aircraft parts for Myanmar’s air force, according to sources.

The report said the conglomerate was one of 45 companies, together with MEHL and MEC, that made donations to the military after the brutal Rohingya “clearance operations”.

He also brokered land-lease agreements between Hong Kong-listed firm VPower and MEHL to run a liquefied natural gas (LNG) power plant on military land in Thanlyin Township in Yangon, Nikkei Asia reported in May.

The deal was one of the projects invited in 2019 under emergency tender by the National League for Democracy government. The US$297-million, 350-megawatt LNG plant in Thanlyin halted operations in July due to uncertainties over its commercial viability.

Dr. Tun Min Latt is the son of a retired air force lieutenant colonel, U Khin Maung Latt.

U Khin Maung Latt served as a director-general at the Ministry of Hotels and Tourism after 1996 under the previous military regime of Senior General Than Shwe, according to a tour operator who asked for anonymity.

U Khin Maung Latt was known as the longest-serving director-general among tour operators in Myanmar, the source said.

In partnership with Thai investors, Dr. Tun Min Latt runs several hotels in Tachileik, a casino city in Shan State on the Thai border, the tour operator said.

Tachileik is dubbed the capital of the “golden triangle”, where Myanmar, Laos and Thailand meet and is infamous as the world’s largest heroin and meth hub.

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