Tough to balance rights and check for corporate fraud

A balance must be struck between investigating business proposals thoroughly for fraudulent intentions and also respecting citizen’s constitutionally stated privacy rights, according to deputy minister for national planning and economic development Daw Thein Thein Htay.

While fraudulent businesses have scammed local people, the process of registering new companies cannot be too investigative, she said.

“There are checking processes that can to some extent be done on the businesses that are presented, but they cannot be unnecessarily strict, and it is a challenge to anticipate their future plans,” she said during a session of the Amyotha Hluttaw on May 19.

Unnecessarily thorough checks can lead to delays for businesspeople who want to contribute to the country’s development, while they are often not productive, as the businesses themselves are not yet set up when only at the stage of registration.

Daw Thein Thein Htay’s remarks came in response to concerns from parliamentary representatives about businesses cheating some of their constituents.

U Hla Swe, a representative of Magwe Region’s No 12 constituency said some companies register locally and then look for capital investment in return for promises of immediate and large profits.

“But then the company is quickly closed and they avoid the people who bought in,” he said.

“In our township of Gangaw, honest villagers throughout the area joined a Thai-based company and contributed money. Then they face a situation where they have to buy low-quality household items, whether they want them or not,” said U Hla Swe.

Many villagers in the township had contributed K110,000 as a shore, with K100,000 for products and the rest as a bookkeeping fee. The company then sent the people items like make-up, lipstick, shampoo and medicinal soap, though it is of low quality, with no company brand, expiration date or guarantee.

In a different case, the owner of an Indian company registered a local business. He managed to book K1 billion (US$910,000) in profits before absconding.

Given these Magway experiences, U Hla Swe said registration bodies such as the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration should conduct thorough checks of all new companies before they are registered.

“These companies register and gain billions of kyats in six months,” he said. “After these cases, government departments need to ask a businessman what business he will do, and need to check the company later to see how it is running.”

It is not only a Magwe concern, according to U Hla Swe. He said there have been similar incidents in Yangon, Tanintharyi and Ayeyarwady regions, as well as Mawlamyine city in Mon State. Educated people like doctors and engineers are also being cheated, along with their less-educated fellow citizens.

Daw Thein Thein Htay said the Directorate of Investment and Company Administration registers new companies in keeping with the Myanmar Companies Act. If, due to a few bad apples, it must make detailed checks, it could lead to delays, wasting time and inconveniencing legitimate businesses.

“For unscrupulousness and cases of abuse, the Ministry of Home Affairs will investigate,” she said.
Investigations usually require complaints to be started, with action to be taken according to existing law. Civil or criminal charges can be handed out, she added.

Source: Myanmar Times

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