Denko and Apex Bank crony charged with graft at China JV power plant, ex-ministers implicated

Denko and Apex Bank crony charged with graft at China JV power plant, ex-ministers implicated

The military has hit seven high-level individuals with historical charges relating to the operation of Taunggyi’s Tigyit coal power plant. 

Former NLD union minister Win Khaing, business tycoon Chit Khine, ex-deputy minister Dr Tun Naing, and former Minister for Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation Ohn Win were among the arrested. The military had filed charges against the group at Payar Gone Police Station in Oattara Thiri township, Naypyidaw, on April 25. 

Sensationally, Chit Khine — the high-profile chair of conglomerate Eden Group, owners of a joint venture company operating the plant in partnership with China National Heavy Machinery Corporation — has, along with the project’s managing director, Kyaw San, been detained and charged under Sec. 55/63 of the Anti-Corruption Law. Ohn Win has been charged solely under Sec. 55.

The military has accused the group of misappropriating K15.9 billion (US$8.5 million) during the purchase more than 23 tons of coal, K1.9 billion (US$1 million) in mineral taxes, and over K14 billion (US$7.5 million) of the state’s 30 percent cut of total mine revenue. The military further alleges that K9.4 billion (US$5 million) in funds allocated for the purchase of coal were lost between 2019 and 2021.

Chit Khine was developing a reputation for donating to the NLD administration before the coup. A top crony, he is the owner of Myanmar Apex Bank, the much maligned (and bombed) petroleum retailer Denko, and operates a number of well-known hospitality businesses, including the Ngapali Hilton and both Yangon’s Fuji Coffee House and Signature Restaurant.

He is the highest profile junta associate to be detained since the arrest of construction king Khin Swe and son last month.