A former deputy governor of Myanmar’s Central Bank detained by the junta for more than a year was formally accused of corruption by the military council on Tuesday—a charge that carries a prison sentence of 15 years.
According to an announcement from the military council’s anti-corruption commission, Bo Bo Nge—who was arrested on the day of the February 1, 2021 coup—is accused of violating Section 55 of the Anti-Corruption Law in a case filed at Naypyitaw’s Phayagon central police station in Ottarathiri Township.
The statement’s allegations center on the junta position that while he was working at the Central Bank under the National League for Democracy (NLD) government, Bo Bo Nge was not properly supervised.
The junta report suggested that he failed to tax a February 8, 2021 withdrawal of the equivalent of US$1.4m in kyat from $5m in funds deposited by Open Society Myanmar (OSM) in their account with the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank in 2018. OSM’s finance manager, Phyu Pa Pa Thaw, was arrested by the junta the following month in connection with the withdrawal.
This oversight resulted in a loss of 360m kyat (some $200,000) for the state, the military claimed. At the time the funds were withdrawn, Bo Bo Nge had already been removed from his post by the military council and was in junta custody.
He was also blamed in Tuesday’s announcement for reportedly failing to take advantage of optimal interest rates when Central Bank funds were deposited in private institutions, and not enforcing reports on all foreign transactions over $10,000.
A budgeting consultant who spoke to Myanmar Now on the condition of anonymity described Bo Bo Nge as a hardworking individual widely respected in the banking sector, and criticised the junta’s corruption case as having been “built out of thin air.”
“The case states that his lack of strict supervision caused the state huge losses, so it’s not about him using the money for his own good—you can barely say that this fits as a corruption charge,” he explained.
A businessperson from Yangon specialising in imports and exports speculated that the military had been looking for a way to build a serious case against Bo Bo Nge for his role in working with the ousted NLD administration.
“They’re just looking for ways to send him to prison,” he said.
He commented that transactions concerning foreign trade became more efficient during the period in which Bo Bo Nge served on the Central Bank’s board of directors.
Bo Bo Nge previously served on the NLD’s economic committee before being appointed as deputy governor of the Central Bank by then President Htin Kyaw in July 2017.
Since the coup, the Myanmar military has been building corruption cases against political leaders including State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi.
The identity of the individual who opened the case against Bo Bo Nge on behalf of the junta’s anti-corruption commission was not known at the time of reporting.