Tanintharyi Chief Minister Arrested on Bribery, Corruption Charges

By San Yamin Aung 11 March 2019

YANGON—Tanintharyi Region Chief Minister Daw Lei Lei Maw was arrested on bribery and corruption charges in Dawei on Sunday, according to the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

ACC spokesperson U Kyaw Soe confirmed to The Irrawaddy that the chief minister has been detained at Dawei Myoma Police Station, together with Global Grand Services (GGS) Managing Director U Thein Htwe, Director U Aung Myat and General Manager U Thura Ohn, right after the commission opened cases against the four under the anti-corruption law.

The arrests come after a month-long investigation in Naypyitaw, Yangon and Dawei carried out between Feb. 4 and March 6.

The commission said it has found that Chief Minister Daw Lei Lei Maw misused her position and committed corruption on a number of occasions since April 2016, just weeks after she was appointed as head of the region, in an announcement released late on Sunday evening together with its findings.

The findings include details of the chief minister’s corrupt activities in awarding contracts for the construction of a pavilion for a Myanmar New Year event in 2016 and for the removal of unwanted bushes from Dawei University and outside Dawei Airport in November 2016. It stated that the chief minister allowed a budget of 400 million kyats ($263,000) for the removal of unwanted bushes outside the airport.

She also asked a director from the regional road management department in October 2018 to build a wall around two plots of land in Dawei owned by her husband but didn’t pay the cost until the commission started the investigation against her, the commission said.

The commission reported that she sold her house which was valued at 32 million kyats ($21,000) for 200 million kyats ($131,000) to the GGS company. In return, the company was awarded a number of contracts including for the electricity distribution project in Dawei, the construction of a fish market, a city hall and low-cost housing.

The ACC added that it also found that GGS broke a contract made with the regional government and owes 8 billion kyats ($5.2 million) to the Ministry of Electricity and Energy for natural gas which has led to a loss of public funds.

The case against Daw Lei Lei Maw has been filed under the Anti-Corruption Law’s Article 55 which carries a maximum penalty of 15 year’s imprisonment and a fine if found guilty. U Thein Htwe, U Aung Myat and U Thura Ohn of GGS have been filed under the Anti-Corruption Law’s Article 63.

Article 63 states that any person who instigates, attempts, conspires, manages or abets to commit any offence contained in the Anti-Corruption Law, shall be punished with the prescribed penalty for such offense.

During State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s visit to the region last month, local residents demanded the chief minister be replaced, as well as the region’s planning and finance minister, U Phyo Win Tun, and U Aung Soe, who chairs the Tanintharyi regional committee for the National League for Democracy.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said she would take decisive action against officials who harm public interest.

In January this year, more than 100 local residents of Myeik and Dawei sent a complaint letter about Daw Lei Lei Maw calling for an investigation. In the following days, the regional parliament also sent a report on public complaints to President U Win Myint and Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.