Myanmar business tycoon, Malaysian tried on drug-trafficking charges
Jul 10, 2008, 6:20 GMT
Yangon – A Myanmar billionaire business tycoon and a Malaysian national are standing trial on drug-trafficking charges and face lengthy prison terms if found guilty, media reports said Thursday.
Maung Weik, 35, the managing director of Maung Weik and Family Co Ltd, which is involved in trading and real estate, was arrested May 31 on charges of trafficking in ecstasy, amphetamines and ketamine that were distributed at company parties and birthday celebrations, the Myanmar Times’ Burmese-language edition reported.
Malaysian national Peter Too Huat Haw was also arrested and is standing trial along with five other Myanmar nationals – Aung Min, Nay Tun Lwin, Kyaw Phone Naing, Kyaw Hlaing and Kyaw Kyaw Win – for engaging in drug trafficking, reported the newspaper, which is privately owned but censored by the government.
The trial of Maung Weik, who like most successful Myanmar businessmen has close ties with the military junta, started June 10, police said.
If found guilty, he faces a 20-year jail sentence, lawyers said.
Maung Weik was known to be close friends with Aung Zaw Ye Myint, the son of retired lieutenant general Ye Myint, who was recently asked to retire by junta supremo Senior General Than Shwe.
Aung Zaw Ye Myint is reportedly undergoing drug rehabilitation.
There was speculation that Than Shwe launched the investigation into Maung Weik’s drug dealing after his 17-year-old grandson Nay Shwe Thway Aung was found to be using drugs, said the Mizzima News, a news organization established by exiled Myanmar journalists.
Drug addiction is rife in Myanmar, once one of the world’s main suppliers of opium and its refined derivative heroin. Although Myanmar’s opium production has fallen over the past decade, the country is now a major producer of methamphetamines.
Maung Weik Charged with Trafficking Drugs
|By MIN LWIN||Thursday, July 10, 2008|
One of the richest men in Burma and a powerful friend of the country’s ruling military elite has been charged with drug abuse and involvement in trafficking, according to a police sergeant from Lanmadaw Township police station in central Rangoon.
The senior policeman told The Irrawaddy that Maung Weik, 35, was charged at Lanmadaw Township police station along with Nay Tun Lwin, Aung Min, Kyaw Phone Naing, Kyaw Hlaing, Kyaw Kyaw Win and Malaysian national Peter Too Huat Haw.
The Myanmar Times weekly journal also reported that the seven named suspects had been charged with engaging in drug trafficking from Malaysia to Burma since 2003.
Maung Weik, a founder of the Maung Weik & Family business group, which is involved in trading and real estate, is accused of importing ecstasy and ketamine to Burma. It has been reported that he catered to wealthy Burmese youths and sons of leading generals.
“They often held parties at their offices or homes and invited celebrities,” a close friend of Maung Weik said. “They got people hooked on drugs and then kept on selling the stuff to them.”
Sources said that ecstasy pills generally sold for as much as 60,000 kyat each (US $50) in upper-class circles in Rangoon, a relative fortune in a country where the average salary is little more than $30 per month.
“Maung Weik used drugs with family members of the ruling generals and distributed drugs to movie stars,” said his former business partner.
According to sources, Maung Weik and his cronies forced young actresses and models to have sex with them after giving them drugs.
“If some military officials or their family members want to have sex, they come to Maung Weik and he arranges one of these celebrity girls,” one of his friends said.
“He is very happy to serve up anything for Burmese officials and their families,” she said. “Whatever they want—drugs, drink, sex—he is always ready.”
“Drug trafficking crimes carry a ten-year to life sentence,” a Rangoon businessman told The Irrawaddy. “I don’t know what the government will do for Maung Weik, but he is close to the military generals and their families.”
According to several journalists, Burma’s chief of police denied that any celebrities had been arrested or detained and said they had not charged any businessmen with drugs offences or trafficking on June 26.
Meanwhile, a source close to Than Shwe’s family said that Nay Shwe Thway Aung, the favorite grandson of Burmese head of state Snr-Gen Than Shwe, was also involved in the Maung Weik drug scandal.
“I heard Than Shwe was angry at Maung Weik because he got his grandson addicted to ecstasy,” the source said. “So he ordered the crackdown on Maung Weik and his drug gang.”
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