Some companies are operating illegally through investments and loan programs with giving 10-25% interest for shares. Having a incentive by the high return rates, the public who are not financially literate fall victims to such scams. The Myanmar News Agency met with officials from Bureau of Special Investigation, the Ministry of Home Affairs to talk about how to avoid the traps the cheaters.
- By Nanda Win
U Aung Myo (Director), Bureau of Special Investigation
Q: Can you tell us about the investigations on financial crimes?
A: We’ve been investigating illegal financial companies that have popped up since 2017. There were two branches under SCL Myanmar Co. Ltd in Pyay Township, Bago Region that was selling high return shares illegally in the region. The Bago Region administration reported the activities of the company to us. Subsequent to further investigation, we were able to prosecute a Myanmar and Thai national in the case. Similarly, we were also able to shut down several illegal financial activities online and offline that were scamming the hard earned money of our citizens.
Q: How can people protect themselves from such crimes?
A: I would advise people to not be easily swayed by high returns on investments and spot for illegal loans. You have a high risk of losing the investments especially if the company goes under investigation or is shut down. If you encounter or are aware of any illegal operations, report to respective authorities.
U Aung Min Oo (Deputy Director)
Q: How do you prosecute criminals on financial crimes?
A: In the case of SCL Myanmar Co. Ltd, we found that the Thai national put the Myanmar national in the front and worked behind the scenes to launder the money. It was structured as of pyramid scheme. They managed to have the initial “investors” who were put into teams with the incentive to recruit more “investors”. These were further organized into pods that continue to recruit with different bonus schemes for the number of new members for that particular person/pod can manage to add into the pyramid. There are also systems that the more you “invest”, the higher the return was going to be. By the time the company was investigated with the responsible persons prosecuted, the company had over 40,000 members with more than kyats 30,000 million. There are warrants for their arrest being put out at this moment with the money yet to be recovered.
Another company was the Malaysian JJPTR Investment Co., Ltd. They practice investments and small loans from those investments. Under the company name Royal JJ Co., Ltd in Myanmar, JJPTR was operated by Daw Tuan Pi Kyaing. Royal JJ Co., Ltd was registered in Myanmar but the parent company wasn’t registered here. How it worked was that people can invest from US$25 to US$1000 or more. They have to register and open an account on www.jjptr.com and then transfer the money via Daw Tuan Pi Kyaing. The interest is around 20% and people can look into their accounts online. This business wasn’t registered with the Myanmar Central Bank. We were able to prosecute Daw Tuan Pi Kyaing and confiscate company vehicles and Kyats 7900 million of investments.
Q: Where can citizens report such cases?
A: You can send letters to our department as well as lodge complaint online.
U Soe Myint Lay ((Deputy Director)
Q: How do you prosecute illegal financial services?
A: There is the Financial Institutions Law for the financial sector passed in 2016. According to section 159 of the law, no other institution is allowed to form a creditor entity without the approval of the Central Bank of Myanmar with a minimum of 2 years to maximum 5 years of imprisonment and up to 500 million Kyats in fines if the law is broken. There are also other notifications and trade laws that restrict certain activities by various ministries.
Q: How do you recover the money that was lost?
A: We try our best during the time of prosecution to make sure that people who lost money are able to recover this amount.
This is either done through the judge who acts as a third party to redistribute the money through the proper due process. They can also sue the culprits with due process according to civil law.
Translated Myat Thu