Junta uses corruption allegations to expand legal case against Aung San Suu Kyi 

The military council announced on March 17 that it would attempt to charge State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, who has been detained since Myanmar’s February 1 coup, with corruption.

The junta’s move is linked to new allegations against Aung San Suu Kyi by businessman Maung Weik. The owner of the Say Paing construction and development company, Maung Weik was formerly imprisoned on drug charges and is known to have close relationships with members of the military’s inner circle.  

Military-run media aired a recorded statement made by Maung Weik alleging that he had given Aung San Suu Kyi more than US$550,000 in cash-filled envelopes on the four occasions he met her between 2018 and 2020. 

“There was no one around when I gave her the money,” he said in the video statement. 

Under Myanmar’s earlier military regime, Maung Weik maintained ties to several generals, including former intelligence chief Khin Nyunt.

He was sentenced to 15 years in prison on drug charges in 2008, but was released in 2014 while the country was led by the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party.  

Upon his release, Maung Weik founded Say Paing–a construction company–and ran various business ventures through his connections to military officials.  

Maung Weik’s wife is also the niece of military-appointed Vice President Myint Swe, who was also the former chief minister of Yangon under the former military administration. 

The coup council announced on March 11 that the now-ousted National League for Democracy’s (NLD) Yangon Region chief minister Phyo Min Thein had given Aung San Suu Kyi $600,000 and more than 11 kilograms of gold. The announcement provided no reason as to why the money and gold were allegedly given to the State Counsellor by the chief minister. 

A top NLD figure told Myanmar Now that the funds in question were donations to build a pagoda. 

“They’re trying to fabricate this and ruin [Aung San Suu Kyi’s] reputation, but the public already clearly knows it’s not true. There’s no need to say anything else,” the official said. 

The junta has also accused the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation and an affiliated project, the La Yaung Taw Academy, of losing public funds. The foundation was founded by Aung San Suu Kyi and named after her late mother. 

According to the military council, the land lease for the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation’s headquarters, located on Yangon’s University Avenue, is not commensurate with the market price for land in the area. It argues that the country had lost more than 1 billion kyat (more than $700,000) in public funds as a result.

The junta declared that from 2013 to 2021, more than $7.9 million in donations from foreign NGOs, INGOs, companies and individual international donors flowed into the foundation’s three foreign currency accounts.

Also under investigation by the junta is the La Yaung Taw Academy in Naypyitaw, which trains young people in environmental conservation and horticulture in association with the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation. The military said the rate at which the land for the project was purchased came at a discount of at least 18 billion kyat (more than $12.7 million), which was subsequently a loss to the state. 

It also reportedly included some plans—such as the construction of a museum—that used funds in a way that strayed from the project’s, and the Daw Khin Kyi Foundation’s, original aims.

“The construction of a building with finance from the foundation for the chair of the foundation has deviated from the foundation’s objective,” the March 17 announcement in the military-run newspaper said. 

Prior to the corruption allegations, the military council had hit Aung San Suu Kyi with four charges at the Zabuthiri Township court in Naypyitaw.

She has been accused of violating Section 505(b) of the Penal Code for incitement, which carries a sentence of two years in prison; Article 67 of the communications law for possession of unauthorized items; an import-export charge for owning walkie-talkie devices; and a charge under the Natural Disaster Management Law for not following Covid-19 measures during the 2020 election campaign period.

The military council has not allowed Aung San Suu Kyi to meet with her legal team. 

“I’ll most likely see her via video conferencing on March 24 for the next hearing,” lawyer Min Min Soe told Myanmar Now. 

The military council has only allowed lawyers Yu Ya Chit and Min Min Soe to take on Aung San Suu Kyi’s case, ignoring the requests of more established legal experts, including Khin Maung Zaw and Kyi Win, to be granted power of attorney.



Related Articles

Back to top button