Former junta minister under renewed scrutiny for corruption

Lt-Gen Soe Htut, who was formally removed as home affairs minister last month, continues to face charges of using his position to enrich himself

Lt-Gen Soe Htut, one of several senior regime officials forced to resign in recent months over corruption allegations, is still under investigation, according to sources familiar with his case.

Soe Htut, who served as the junta’s home affairs minister until he was placed on “medical leave” in August, was subjected to further scrutiny in the second week of October while under house arrest, a police superintendent from the Ministry of Home Affairs told Myanmar Now.

“It is certain that the former minister is being examined again, for the second time. His wife is bad [for taking bribes]. The people associated with them are also being investigated,” said the police superintendent, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

A confidante of junta leader Min Aung Hlaing, Soe Htut was formally dismissed from his ministerial post in late September. In a statement released at the time, the regime said that he would resume his military duties.

Since then, however, it appears that fresh allegations have been made, said the police superintendent.

“When they were in power, they weren’t liked, but people had to put up with them,” he said, referring to Soe Htut and his wife, Nilar Sein. “Now that they’ve been ousted, more people are coming forward to complain about them.”

Soe Htut is accused of misusing ministry funds, including the budget for police uniforms, and also of taking millions of kyat in bribes for issuing passports, sources close to the investigation said.

Three police senior superintendents, including the Home Affairs Ministry’s spokesperson Kyaw Thiha, are also reportedly being questioned in connection with the case, the sources added.

Myanmar Now was unable to reach the ministry for comment and could not independently verify the information that it has received about the ongoing investigation.

Several other senior officials were also removed from their posts last month, including Lt-Gen Moe Myint Tun, his subordinate Brig-Gen Yan Naung Soe, and deputy commerce minister Nyunt Aung. All three allegedly made millions of dollars from their dealings with traders working in the fuel and cooking oil industries.

Moe Myint Tun, who is regarded as a protégé of Min Aung Hlaing, headed several key economic positions after the coup. He and Yan Naung Soe have both been sentenced to life imprisonment, the regime has said in an announcement released since their arrest.

In addition to his reputation for corruption, Soe Htut is notorious for his role in orchestrating brutal crackdowns on protests in the wake of the February 2021 coup. He also reportedly supervised the execution of veteran activist Ko Jimmy, former MP Phyo Zayar Thaw, and two other regime opponents in July of last year.

Before becoming home affairs minister in 2020, Soe Htut served as judge advocate-general and head of military intelligence.

He is also one of the largest shareholders of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited, a military conglomerate, and has several companies of his own involved in gas extraction, construction, tourism, timber production, manufacturing, engineering works, and retail and wholesale distribution.

His sons, Min Than Htut, Sithu Htut, and Soe Moe Htut, run a company called H Double H that has been contracted to carry out road construction projects in Shan State. 

The junta has not released any information about the latest investigation into Soe Htut’s activities.

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