Myanmar's Junta-Linked Cronies and Firms Donate to Armed Forces Day
By Hein Htoo Zan 25 March 2023
Myanmar’s junta-linked cronies and companies have donated heavily towards Monday’s Armed Forces Day parade.
Junta media reported that 163 companies and individuals donated 1.13 billion kyats (around US$400,000) ahead of the Naypyitaw parade, which marks the defeat of the Japanese during the Second World War.
Sources at the Quartermaster General’s Office in Naypyitaw told The Irrawaddy the identities of around 20 of the firms making donations.
These include Shwe Taung Development Company Limited run by Aik Tun and Yuzana Group of Companies owned by Htay Myint.
Aik Tun and Htay Myint are long-established cronies with military links since the 1990s.
The US sanctioned Aik Tun’s now-defunct Asia Wealth Bank in 2003 for having links to the drugs trade. Htay Myint faced US sanctions in 2008 and was a Union Solidarity and Development Party MP from 2011 to 2016. Recently, junta boss Min Aung Hlaing visited his fishery firm in Ayeyarwady Region.
The military-owned Myawaddy Bank, Dagon Win Win Company Limited, Lo Tine Ya Taung Tine Ya Gems Company Limited, Star Sapphire Group of Companies, Authentic Group of Companies Limited and Khant Shwe Pyi Co Ltd have made donations.
Myawaddy Bank is owned by the Myanma Economic Holdings Limited, one of the military’s conglomerates, giving the junta access to international finance. The conglomerate has been under US and UK sanctions since the 2021 coup.
Dagon Win Win is the key distributor of the military’s Dagon Beer and Star Sapphire is an arms broker for the junta.
Other donations came from International Gateways Co Ltd, Myint Tat Co Ltd, Aung Myin Thu Group of Companies Ltd, Victory Myanmar Group Co Ltd, Ah Yone Oo Construction Co Ltd, Aye Chan Nyein Kyaw Ltd, Miya Win International Co Ltd, Sky Aviator Co Ltd and King Royal Technologies Co Ltd.
Star Sapphire, International Gateways and Miya Win have been sanctioned for supplying arms to the regime.
Star Sapphire boss Tun Min Latt was arrested in Thailand in September and charged in December with money laundering, drug trafficking and transnational organized crime. Min Aung Hlaing’s daughter Khin Thiri Thet Mon is a Star Sapphire director.
Naing Htut Aung, director of International Gateways, is a key arms trader, supplying the air force and navy, mainly from China. The firm was sanctioned by Canada last year.
In March last year, the UK sanctioned arms supplier Miya Win, which has links suppliers in Austria and Germany. It has supplied drones from Austria’s Schiebel Corporation and received parts since the 2021 coup.
In July 2021, the US sanctioned King Royal Technologies, a telecommunications company providing satellite services to the junta. In November the US took action against Kyaw Min Oo and his Sky Aviator firm over junta arms deals, including for aircraft parts.
Sources said International Gateways, Miya Win and Sky Aviators are the largest contributors to the junta.
The Irrawaddy could not independently verify the reports.
A donation also came from the Aung Myin Thu Group of Companies, which also has links to Min Aung Hlaing’s family.
The company was founded by Saw Nyein. Until July 2020, Min Aung Hlaing’s daughter-in-law, Myo Yadanar Htike, was a director of Apower Co. Ltd, and his former son-in-law, Lin Myint Phwe, was a director of Minn Pyae Tagon Industrial Co. Ltd, which are both Aung Myin Thu subsidiaries.
Former army captain Htet Myat, who refused to serve under the junta, said those who support the revolution should not forget the businesses which support the junta.
“We all shall keep a record and take deserved revenge,” Captain Htet Myat said.