Sixth Suspect Arrested in Currency Manipulation Crackdown

By Myo Pa Pa San 17 October 2018

YANGON—The Bureau of Special Investigation has detained a joint auditor of the Yangon Region Gold Entrepreneurs Association for allegedly participating in attempts to manipulate the kyat-dollar exchange rate.

U Nyi Nyi Oo (also known as Hla Lay Sein) is the sixth person to be detained by the BSI since President’s Office spokesperson U Zaw Htay announced a crackdown on currency market manipulation in late September. The bureau is under the control of the Home Affairs Ministry.

The kyat has weakened against the dollar since June, reaching a record low of over 1,600 kyats per dollar last month.

In the last week of September, the BSI started investigating currency and gold dealers on Yangon’s Shwebontha Street believed to be involved in manipulating the dollar market.

“We have opened a case against U Nyi Nyi Oo under Section 42 of the Foreign Exchange Management Law,” BSI director U Aung Myo told The Irrawaddy on Monday.

The bureau would continue its investigation and track down other currency manipulators, he said.

The bureau has charged five other suspects under sections 38 and 39 of the Foreign Exchange Management Law.

Section 38 relates to engaging in currency trading without a license; Section 39 concerns violations of the terms of the license. A conviction on either charge carries a sentence of three years’ imprisonment and/or a fine.

The bureau has filed complaints against the five at Pabedan, Kyauktada and Pazundaung police stations.

On Tuesday, the kyat was trading at 1,583 to the dollar, while gold remained at over 1 million kyats per tical.