USDA officials accused of embezzlement

Nov 27, 2008 (DVB), A Union Solidarity and Development Association clerk appeared in court in Myin Chan on Monday and confessed to misappropriating 900 million kyat from public funds, according to locals.

USDA clerk Ma Kyu admitted in court in Myin Chan township, Mandalay division, that she and the local group secretary had misused the funds.

About six weeks ago, workers and bus drivers from the Myin Chan state industrial zone and the All Bus-lines Control Committee reported that 900 million kyat was missing from their welfare funds.

A resident of Myin Chan said the labourers and drivers had accused local USDA secretary Hla Than, who is also head of the industrial zone and the ABCC, of misusing the funds, but it was ABCC clerk Ma Kyu who was facing trial for the theft.

Ma Kyu was arrested after the two groups reported 200 million missing from ABCC funds and 700 million from the industrial zone.

A Myin Chan resident said Ma Kyu was unlikely to have been solely responsible for the embezzlement.

"Ma Kyu is only a clerk at the ABCC and she has nothing to do with the industrial zone," the resident said.

"During the trial, she confessed to the misuse of funds by herself, the USDA chief and the secretary."

The resident said USDA secretary Hla Than held the bank account books for both the industrial zone and the ABCC.

The 200 million kyat missing from the ABCC fund has now reportedly been replaced by the committee’s financial director U Shein from his own account, the resident said.

Sources close to the workers said the township Peace and Development Council office, who hold a grudge against Hla Than for his arrogant behaviour, encouraged the workers to report the case to the authorities.

But Hla Than, who is known to have close ties with Industrial (1) minister Aung Thaung, escaped punishment.

"Hla Than was accused by the ABCC and also the industrial zone but he was not punished in the end," the resident said.

"Now he going around town boasting that he’s untouchable and acting like he’s the son of Aung Thaung."

Reporting by Aye Nai

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