Originally published on The Irrawaddy
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 regime said the opening of the OSF Myanmar office came about after George Soros met ousted Myanmar State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi four times between 2014 and 2017. It said OSF deputy chair Alexander Soros met Daw Aung San Suu Kyi six times from 2017 to 2020.
Military-aligned groups including the Union Solidarity and Development Party have accused Soros of manipulating Myanmar’s politics by supporting civil society organizations in the country. In 2017, lawmaker U Soe Thane, who served as President’s Office minister under U Thein Sein’s administration, objected to a ministerial appointment by the NLD government on grounds that the appointed minister had failed to disclose his previous work for the George Soros Foundation. He said that making the official a national security adviser could hurt Myanmar’s relations with China.
Main Image Credit: The Guardian