George Soros Foundation’s Assets Seized by Myanmar Military Junta
News comes following coup amid allegations of election fraud
George Soros' Open Society Foundations' bank accounts have been seized by the military junta in Myanmar as well as freezing the left-wing billionaire's bank accounts after suspicion the group funded the elements opposed to the coup in the country earlier this year, according to reports.
The coup came after pro-democracy campaigner and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi won a victory landslide, Reuter reported in March.
The country’s powerful military, known as the Tatmadaw, arrested Suu Kyi following allegations of election fraud.
According to Reuters, media in the country alleged that Open Society Myanmar withdrew $1.4 million from its account at the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank, or SMED.
The funds were then exchanged into the local currency, the kyat; “without following the necessary rules and regulations," according to reports.
A picture of Soros with Suu Kyi in 2016 in New York was published by the newspaper, claiming she had met several times with the philanthropist, according to the Times.
Government officials took control of $3.81 million and 375 million kyats in Open Society Myanmar accounts, four private banks, including SMED. According to The Irrawaddy.
SMED is also in hot water for letting Open Society Myanmar withdraw the $1.4 million and deposit $5 million without approval from authorities.
The government announced it was looking for 11 other Open Society Myanmar (OSM) officials to interrogate them.
“Claims of financial misconduct against OSM staff are completely false with no legal basis, and we call for the immediate release of OSM’s finance manager Phyu Pa Pa Thaw,” Binaifer Nowrojee, OSM’s vice president for organizational transformation, told the Financial Times.
“The military is wrongfully pursuing staff members who have done nothing wrong and have, in fact, spent years working to improve healthcare, education, and more for the people of Myanmar,” she continued.
“These false allegations are evidently an attempt to distract from what is really happening and to discredit those who wish for a return to peace and democracy in Myanmar.”
The Open Society Foundations insisted none of the transactions were illegal in a statement and demanded its worker's release.
“The Open Society Foundations are deeply concerned about reports that an OSM (Open Society Myanmar) staff member has been detained in Myanmar,” the statement read.
“We call for her immediate release. We are alarmed by reports that authorities are seeking to interrogate other staff members.”
“Claims of financial misconduct, including that OSM acted illegally by withdrawing their own funds in local currency from the [SMED] bank, are false,” the letter continued.
“Claims that OSM used these funds for illegal purposes are false. These funds were used for purposes fully within the objectives of OSM.”
It is not clear if giving aid to demonstrators and opposition forces in Myanmar was in the “objectives of OSM."
Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy, won 396 out of 476 seats, compared with 33 for the military’s party.
The generals seized power in the early morning hours of Feb. 1.
Protests in Myanmar have seen 612 dead as of Thursday morning, The Irrawaddy reported.
In February, the Biden administration warned they would “take action” against Myanmar’s military for the coup.
Joe Biden approved an executive order to impose sanctions if such actions were taken.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said:
“The United States opposes any attempt to alter the outcome of recent elections or impede Myanmar’s democratic transition,” adding that the U.S. “will take action against those responsible if these steps are not reversed.”
“We’re also going to impose strong exports controls."
"We’re freezing U.S. assets that benefit the Burmese government while maintaining our support for health care, civil society groups, and other areas that benefit the people of Burma directly.”
“We’ll be ready to impose additional measures, and we’ll continue to work with our international partners to urge other nations to join us in these efforts,” Biden added.