The fallout surrounding the arrest of arch-crony Khin Shwe and son Zay Thiha continued today after the pair were yesterday sent to Yangon’s Insein Prison.
Security forces are believed to have seized properties in Yangon and Kyaiktiyo, Mon State, with a number of others under investigation, sources close to Khin Shwe’s Zaykabar company told the Ayeyarwaddy Times.
An officer source yesterday claimed the pair had been arrested at their home on University Avenue, and had been taken into custody due to a complaint made by a lieutenant colonel from Yangon Region Military Command concerning property owned by the Ministry of Defense; the army filed a case against Khin Shwe at Bahan Township Police Station under Sec. 24 of the Archaeological Preservation Law on Feb. 11.
It has emerged that the pair may have been arrested due to non-payment of monies owed on leased government land; documents purportedly relating to the pair’s lawsuit today spread across social media. The telegrammed documents show that the Attorney General’s Office rented 13.794 acres of land and property owned by the Ministry of Defense on Pale Road, Yangon, to Zaykabar in January 2014 with an agreement that Khin Shwe would operate a hotel business.
It further states that Zaykabar agreed to pay US$1.2 million annually plus a sum of US$41.382 million in rent to the Attorney General’s Office; despite signing a memorandum of agreement, Khin Shwe is alleged to have paid just US$16.88 million, and failed to come up with the remainder despite being formally reminded on eight occasions.
The pair are also accused of demolishing four heritage buildings — including what was the 1920’s built, colonial era Mayor’s Residence and Guest House — without permission last month. The buildings are said to have been demolished to make way for a US$500 million high-rise project led by Chinese developer, Hunan Land Oversea Real Estate.
The most high-profile crony to be arrested since the coup, the detention of Khin Shwe comes as a shock to many. Despite the legal case laid out by the junta, the pair’s downfall more likely comes as a result of internal power struggles in Yangon and Naypyidaw. Khin Shwe’s daughter is married to the son of Shwe Mann, a former general and close aide of ex-dictator Than Shwe, who in 2015 was purged by the USDP — a party that Khin Shwe himself represented between 2011-2016.
Mizzima today reported that 12 employees from Khin Shwe’s Zaykabar Museum — a private collection of extremely rare and valuable Burmese antiquities in Yangon’s Mingalardon township — were also arrested yesterday and are yet to be released. “I heard they were beaten during questioning,” a source told Mizzima. Upon Khin Shwe’s arrest, netizens had been quick to speculate that, aside from the requisition of cash and land, charges may be motivated by the military’s desire to lay claim to his enviable collection of antiques.