Govt, parliament have responsibilities to investigate AGD bank’s share transfer

To investigate whether the share transfer of Asia Green Development Bank (AGD) involves white money is dependent mainly on the government and the parliament. People have urged the executive pillars to inspect this case in line with the Anti-Money Laundering Law transparently.

Such critics have risen following the in-person interview between Kyaw Ne Win – grandson of former dictator Ne Win – and The Messenger Journal featured in its July-20 edition.

On the interview, Kyaw Ne Win said that he has thrived to invest US$4.9 billion in Myanmar business sector and acquired 60 per cent of the AGD bank owned by well-known tycoon Tay Za. He added that he will try to purchase up to 85 per cent of the bank’s share.

“Our business group, including me, have 60 per cent of the share and are planning to buy up to 85 per cent,” he told The Messenger.

In July-22 issue of 7Day Daily, the news with the title ‘The briefings of AGD officials varied with the words of Ne Win’s grandson’ was featured.

The report quoted the remarks of Wai Lin Oo, deputy managing director of AGD bank, ‘only 15 per cent of AGD share has been sold to [U] Kyaw Ne Win’.

‘As the Central Bank allowed 15 per cent of AGD’s share to sell, we have sold only that amount to him,’ Wai Lin Oo continued.

However, Kyaw Ne Win confirmed again that he has acquired 60 per cent of the share and planned to purchase up to 85 per cent in that very report.

An official of AGD replied to Eleven Media that the AGD bank holds more than 610,000 shares and 90,000 of them have been sold out with the permission of the Central Bank.

These shares go mainly to Yin Htwe, Khin Win Maw and Thura Myint of Mikko Group, and the remaining one-tenth (9,000 reportedly) has been acquired by Kyaw Ne Win.

As Kyaw Ne Win said that he has purchased 60 per cent of the share, the value of this amount reached Ks 150 billion ($150 million). Many have questioned over the income that enough to purchase such great amount of share and the tax payment on this income.

From 2002 to 2012, the family of Kyaw Ne Win was not allowed to run any business. After 2012, the family has operated a bus line which shows loss. Kyaw Ne Win also admitted about the loss in his bus line on interview with The Messenger Journal.

Moreover, he said that he has shares in other businesses but failed to mention the type and name of the firms and the amount of tax payment in detail.

“We’re broke,” he said on the interview with The Messenger.

The Mikko Group – which purchased the major portion of AGD bank’s share – has also failed to rank the list of Top-Tax Payers.

The briefings of AGD said most of its share is owned by the Mikko Group.

Kyaw Ne Win said that he owns 60 per cent of AGD’s share and plans to buy up to 85 per cent. On that instance, Kyaw Ne Win had mentioned ‘he and his group’. For this phrase, doubts cast on him and his connection to the Mikko Group.

Another thing that makes the situations more confusing is that he said the China National Corporation for Overseas Economic Cooperation (CCOEC) will assist him to enter the investment sector of Myanmar.

The company will aid him $4.9 billion and sets the repayment date some day in September 2015. If necessary, the repayment date can be extended as well the amount of fund, according to the interview between Kyaw Ne Win and The Messenger.

He added that the CCOEC had made a friendship with his late grandfather, Ne Win, the former dictator.

Currently, between $45-47 billion investment capital has dissolved in Myanmar’s FDI sector and therefore, the Central Bank and the government should check entering of more amounts (nearly 10 per cent of the current FDI), accordingly Dr. Aung Ko Ko, an economic expert.

“They have purchased the shares of AGD. It’s good to know how they did. The rest is up to the Central Bank. As the Central Bank has been reformed, we assume there is no old procedure. Besides the Central Bank, the government is also responsible for this,” suggested Dr. Aung Ko Ko.

“From my standpoint, the Central Bank should carry out inspections in line with their responsibility. It is controversial when the family of the former dictator has been granted $4.9 billion aid from the company that had a friendship with its grandfather. The media have questioned over it dutifully. The Central Bank and the government are responsible mainly to inspect this case,” said Aung Zaw, editor of the Irrawaddy Magazine.

Although Kyaw Ne Win had not cleared how he would show white money for acquiring the shares of AGD bank, he did mention that the electricity generating project will be run by $4.9 billion aid from the CCOEC.

Amidst the families of Ne Win, the former dictator, his son-in-law Aye Zaw Win and his grandsons [sons of Aye Zaw Win] Kyaw Ne Win, Aye Ne Win and Zwe Ne Win were sentenced to death for the treason back in 2002. However, the sentence was reduced to jail statement.

After serving more than 10 years in prison, they have been released on amnesty in 2012 and 2013 respectively.

Sandar Win, the daughter of Ne Win had been put under house arrest while her husband and her sons were in jail.

During their detention and the period after released, the earning from their business did not shock the people considerably.

However, the acquiring of AGD bank shares and $4.9 billion aid from CCOEC under the pretext, ‘for the friendship made by their grandfather, the company believes in them’ did astound the public.

Htin Lin Oo (Wisdom Villa), who writes political features in journals, has foreseen that the actions and words of Kyaw Ne Win [and his group] will bother the citizens seriously.

“Many have been jailed in protecting their country and struggled with deprivation after release. When the ones who seeking advantage released from the prison, they become bankers. This is outrageous. Does money enter to their bank account automatically after they released? There was an act done by their grandfather U Ne Win during the era of Myanmar Socialist Programme Party. In September 1987, he announced that the local cash was illegal. He gave an alleged reason – fake money surged into the country. But the local money flow was the billion-worth property of citizens. This asset had become waste once he announced it illegal. I have been thinking all the time where this cash has gone to. Now I assume that the history gives a comeback,” said Htin Lin Oo (Wisdom Villa).

As a matter of fact, late dictator Ne Win used the state’s funds like his own money. His acts remain as the country’s historical records.

“In the past, he is a former general. He visited the European countries with the charter flight at a time when the country was mired in the poverty. He toured Germany, Austria and London. He made such kinds of recreations even in such a crucial period. I have talked even with his charter flight pilots about it. He used the State’s funds on a grand scale,” said Aung Zaw, an editor from the Irrawaddy Magazine.

Myanmar’s modern history books always describe the fact that Ne Win himself behaved like a boss whenever he toured the foreign countries and ran the jewellery shops in some foreign countries. The book on “A famous head and his follower in the time of dictatorship” published in July, 2013 written by writer Aung Swan described that Ne Win used to hold the gem emporiums annually during his tenures.

According to hearsay, the emporium was aimed at auctioning his belongings. But half of auctioned gems were sold out and the rest were sent to his friend gem merchants in Switzerland. He got the commissions from his friends. There was no information about the gem sale figures and how much money flow into the State’s fund at the time.

Ne Win’s grandson Kyaw Ne Win told the Messenger the news that Ne Win opened banks account in the Swiss Bank and ran the jewellery shops in the foreign country like Germany, is not true. “He has many evidences of U Ne Win’s bank accounts in the Swiss bank,” Aung Zaw claimed.

“We have yet to know the total amounts in the Swiss bank. I have a handwriting evidence of former Military Intelligence Chief U Tin Oo whom was jailed by U Ne Win. It included in the argument when he was charged by the court. It covers about 20-30 pages in total. There is one line saying that U Tin Oo helped U Ne Win to get his money back from the Swiss bank. This is an example,” said Aung Zaw.

It was questionable that Ne Win could save a large sum of money in a foreign bank even though he passed the matriculation exam in Pyay, attended the university for two years and then became a soldier.

“He did not work for the people. Only the thing he did is the abuse of the public’s belongings. He used to go to the European countries rather than the Asian countries whenever he went abroad for medical treatment. He was on the month-long tours then. He spent the State’s funds during his tour of Austria, Germany, the West Germany and the West London. We can imagine the fact that his involvement in the corruption as a dictator. The new government led by President U Thein Sein must expose the corruption and bribery of his family and check the recent investment of US$ 4.9 billion. The next interesting point is that we have to see the revival of oligarchy in the time of Suharto. Suharto and his family and offspring have been rich ones. It is funny that the revival of U Ne Win’s family at a time when President U Thein Sein frequently calls for transparency and accountability,” Aung Zaw said.

President Thein Sein’s administration has a responsibility to check whether money owned by Ne Win’s families and other corrupt former army generals and their families are black or white. He become familiar with famous bankers, Aung Thet Man, son of upper house speaker Thura Shwe Mann and son of former vice-president Thiha Thura Tin Aung Myint Oo (former general) as well as Tay Za after he has got freed from the jail, Kyaw Ne Win told the messenger.

In 2013, there was a rumour that there are five bank accounts worth US$ 11 billion in the foreign countries. But the government and the parliament were unable to make an investigation into it. Now, there are rumours that Ne Win’s money includes in US$ 11 billion. The government, the central bank of Myanmar and the parliament need to scrutinize the investments made by Ne Win’s family.

“An idea crosses my mind is that there might be links between them. Myanmar could reap 10 billions of dollars in annual revenue from the export of gas in the time of new government. We know such kind of information. They pay back the export of gas at a price of Ks 6 to the banks at a time when one dollar amounted to Ks 1000-1100. At the time, they generated Ks 1000 in profit. In the olden days, Myanmar had funds in the World Bank at a time when Myanmar had a relation with the Common Wealth. Then, Myanmar resigned from the world monetary market. There will be a question of “where Myanmar’s gold is. We have a duty to expose it,” said Htin Lin Oo (Wisdom).

Some are criticizing that the investment and belongings of Ne Win’s family and former army generals and their families and the flow of other untitled money may be linked to the money laundering. There are many forms of money laundering. In most cases, such cases can be seen in the poor countries with less production capacity and the countries lacking the political stability. Anyway, the government and the central bank of Myanmar are responsible for checking and scrutinizing the amounts of white and black money flowing into the country.

Anti-Money Laundering Law was passed by the upper house of parliament on March 14 this year. The investigation team formed under this law will have a mandate to investigate and expose the money laundering cases. The team will have to report responsible persons or organizations when one is found suspicious of committing a money laundering case as quickly as possible and local and foreign partnership associations as their requests.

In addition, the team will have to make cooperation and exchange of information with local organizations that carry out the similar works. Those who mostly involve in the money laundering cases are (1) corrupt dictators’ families, some top leaders of former and current governments and their families, (2) tax-evading cronies and non-crony entrepreneurs (3) those who earn money via the narcotic drug trading.

The government and the central bank would lose the trusts of people and the world countries if they fail to expose the above-mentioned facts. As an example, the government should recheck the purchase of AGD bank’s shares and investment in dollars by Ne Win’s family. Myanmar might face a financial crisis that led to the collapse of banks in 2002 once again if the government and the parliament failed to expose it. People will be in danger of money losses when the banks collapse.

On the other hand, legal experts warned that legal action can be taken against those involving in corruption, bribery and money laundering cases at any time in accord with the anti-corruption law and the constitution. AGD bank case becomes a test for Myanmar’s banking and monetary system to showcase its strength to the public and the world countries.


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