Myanmar State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi holds talks with George Soros, founder and chairman of the Open Society Foundation, in New York in September 2016. / Ministry of Information
By The Irrawaddy 16 March 2021
The military regime has seized control of the bank accounts of billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Foundation (OSF) in Myanmar and announced that it will take legal action against the foundation, which is accused of violating restrictions on the activities of such organizations.
On Monday, military-controlled MRTV announced that the military had issued arrest warrants for 11 staff members of OSF Myanmar, including its head and deputy head, on suspicion of giving financial support to the civil disobedience movement against the military junta.
The regime also claimed that the world’s largest private funder for justice, democratic governance and human rights had failed to obtain approval from the Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM)’s Foreign Exchange Management Department for a deposit of US$5 million (7.04 billion kyats) with the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank (SMED) in Myanmar in 2018.
The foundation is also accused of illegally withdrawing $1.4 million from its account at SMED a week after the military takeover in Myanmar, as the civil disobedience movement was gaining momentum among civil servants across the country.
The military junta also took control of assets totaling $3.81 million and 375 million kyats in OSF bank accounts at four private banks—Kanbawza Bank (KBZ), Ayeyarwady Bank (AYA), SMED and Co-operative Bank (CB), according to MRTV.
The military said it had begun taking control of all illegal flows of money to OSF Myanmar, saying the foundation had breached the law that lays downs the rules and regulations for organizations in the country.
It said it would take legal action against SMED for allowing OSF to deposit $5 million and withdraw $1.4 million without obtaining approval from the CBM.
On March 12, the CBM notified all international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that they would be required to report all financial transactions involving international organizations or individuals from abroad, with relevant bank account information, since April 1, 2016. The order indicates that the military regime intends to investigate the financial transactions of organizations since the National League for Democracy (NLD) took office in early 2016.