Myanmar Police Hunt Fugitive Gold Baron in Thailand

Myanmar police are in Thailand hunting for fugitive gold baron Soe Htun Shein, who has evaded arrest on charges of mining without a permit since last year, the President’s Office has said.

The officers travelled to Bangkok over the weekend, around two weeks after Myanmar Now published photos of the mining company chairman taken by a Myanmar national who spotted him at Suvarnabhumi airport.

Soe Htun Shein and several other executives from the National Prosperity Gold Production Group (NPGPG)  were hit with criminal charges after failing to hand over about $80m worth of gold that the National League for Democracy government said the company owed in taxes.

The government revoked NPGPG’s mining license and ordered them to cease operations. When Soe Htun Shein defied the order he was charged with mining without a permit, which carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence.

Myanmar national Tun Maung Nyein spotted and photographed Soe Htun Shein at around 3:30pm local time on October 14. Soe Htun Shein sported a short-sleeved, sky-blue shirt and blue jeans and was accompanied by a Thai woman and two Burmese-speaking women.

“I recognised him right away from the recent news reports,” Tun Maung Nyein, who is a tour company driver in Bangkok, told Myanmar Now. “I followed him and got photos of him and the license plate of the car he got in.”

In one of the photos, Soe Htun Shein and his companions are seen getting into a Toyota HiAce van with the plate number 30-0572.

Initial intelligence suggests Soe Htun Shein fled Myanmar by land, crossing into Thailand at the Tachileik-Maesai border crossing in eastern Shan State, said President’s Office spokesperson Zaw Htay. 

Police have not released an update since arriving in Thailand and could not be reached for comment. 

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