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Min Aung Hlaing’s family assets caught in Thai drug raid

January 11th, 2023  •  Author:   Justice For Myanmar  •  6 minute read
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January 11, 2023

Thai police discovered the title of a luxury condo belonging to Aung Pyae Sone and bank passbooks belonging to Khin Thiri Thet Mon, the children of junta head and war criminal Min Aung Hlaing, during the drug raid on Myanmar crony arms dealer Tun Min Latt. The items were in Tun Min Latt’s possession when he was arrested.

Justice For Myanmar understands the physical items were confiscated but the assets have not been seized, and that Thai police have not expanded their investigation to Min Aung Hlaing’s children, despite the evidence linking them to Tun Min Latt’s alleged criminal activities.

The financial links between Min Aung Hlaing’s children and Tun Min Latt were identified by Justice For Myanmar in the seizure record.

Tun Min Latt was arrested in a dawn raid in Bangkok on September 17, and was indicted on December 13 on charges of drug trafficking, money laundering and transnational organised crime, with maximum penalties ranging from 15 years to death.

Following Tun Min Latt’s arrest, Thai police seized assets worth approximately USD 50 million, including real estate, cash, cars, luxury watches and brand-name handbags.

Among items listed as being in Tun Min Latt’s possession was the title deed for a four-bedroom unit in Belle Grand Rama 9, a luxury condominium in Bangkok belonging to Aung Pyae Sone, according to the seizure record. The condo was purchased in 2017, as Aung Pyae Sone’s father was committing genocide against the Rohingya, for which he has yet to be held accountable.

Comparable four-bedroom units are currently being advertised for around 33 million baht, close to USD 1 million. Belle Grand Rama 9 is the same condominium where Tun Min Latt was arrested and owns three units, both in his own name and jointly with his wife, Win Min Soe.

Thai police also listed two Siam Commercial Bank passbooks belonging to Khin Thiri Thet Mon. The account specified in the seizure record was opened at the Q House Lumphini branch, a luxury Bangkok condominium and office complex. Justice For Myanmar understand that Thai authorities did not freeze the account but cannot confirm if it remains active.

Tun Min Latt formerly had a shared company with Khin Thiri Thet Mon, which Justice For Myanmar exposed in 2022.

Min Aung Hlaing’s son and daughter, like their father, are sanctioned by the US and Canada.

The revelations are significant in linking Min Aung Hlaing’s family to the ongoing criminal proceedings against Tun Min Latt and raise questions over the source of funds for the assets listed.

The case demonstrates that senior Myanmar military family members have access to Thai banks and more broadly to Thailand as a destination to hide their illegal gains from the military’s systemic corruption. This is despite sanctions and other measures that seek to restrict the junta’s access to the international financial system.

It is unsurprising that Min Aung Hlaing’s family sees Thailand as a safe haven for their stolen wealth. Min Aung Hlaing has a close relationship with Prayut Chan-o-cha, who became Prime Minister after leading a military coup in 2014. Following the Myanmar military’s coup attempt, Prayut and Min Aung Hlaing maintained contact through back channels and Thailand’s Special Envoy on Myanmar has spoken out against sanctions. Thailand bankrolls the junta’s terror campaign through the import of natural gas.

Justice For Myanmar calls on Thai authorities to seize the assets and investigate whether Aung Pyae Sone and Khin Thiri Thet Mon have benefited from the proceeds of Tun Min Latt’s alleged criminal activities in violation of Thai law, and to block junta members, their families, and enablers from accessing Thai banks and purchasing assets. Allies of Thailand also need to apply pressure to ensure Thailand is not a destination for Myanmar war criminals to hide their loot with impunity.

Justice For Myanmar urges Thai banks to close accounts held by individuals sanctioned in other jurisdictions, including Aung Pyae Sone and Khin Thiri Thet Mon. Siam Commercial Bank did not respond to questions from Justice For Myanmar about Khin Thiri Thet Mon and the provision of banking services to junta families.

Governments must urgently sanction financial enablers of the junta to cut its access to funds and block opportunities for generals and their families to profit from the illegal coup attempt and steal public assets from the people of Myanmar.

To date, only the UK has sanctioned Star Sapphire Group of Companies, which is Tun Min Latt’s conglomerate. The US, EU, Canada and Australia need to join the UK in sanctioning Star Sapphire Group, while the five allies should coordinate to sanction Tun Min Latt and all individuals and entities in his network.

 

Who is Tun Min Latt?

Tun Min Latt, 53, is a crony with a long track record of providing support to the Myanmar military, including brokering the supply of arms from China and Israel. He is the son of a retired lieutenant colonel who was a senior Ministry of Hotels and Tourism official in the former Than Shwe regime. Tun Min Latt has business partnerships with the Myanmar Army’s Office of the Quartermaster General and the military conglomerate, Myanma Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL).

The Office of the Quartermaster General is sanctioned by the USUK and Canada, while MEHL is sanctioned by the USUKCanada and the EU.

Tun Min Latt conducts his business activities through the Star Sapphire Group of Companies, which he leads together with his wife, Dr Win Min Soe, and his associates, Dr Htet Aung, Sithu Maung and Khine Wint Mon.

The linked Allure Group operates a casino in Tachileik on the Myanmar side of the Golden Triangle through its Myanmar subsidiary, Myanmar Allure Group, in partnership since November 2017 with the Office of the Quartermaster General.

The Allure casino is part of a money laundering and drug trafficking network that injects illegal funds into the Thai financial system through the cross-border purchase of electricity, involving the Thai company, Allure Group (P&E), which Tun Min Latt is a director of. Thai authorities indicted Allure Group (P&E) together with Tun Min Latt.

The Allure casino was established by Upakit Pachariyangkun, which he has controlled with Tun Min Latt. Pachariyangkun is currently serving as a senator, appointed by the Thai military. In October, a warrant was issued for Pachariyangkun’s arrest on drug and money laundering charges, but retracted within hours. In 2019, Pachariyangkun transferred his stake in Allure to his son-in-law, Dean Gultula, who was indicted with Tun Min Latt.


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