Does Myanmar’s ex-junta hold $11b in Singapore?

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Singapore skylineA report by the Banking Information Center (BIC), a Washington-based non-profit organisation that monitors international financial institutions, Myanmar’s government was holding “up to $11 billion” worth of foreign reserves in several bank accounts in Singapore.

The figure was first mentioned by financial researcher Jelson Garcia of BIC, who said that the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) had provided him with estimates of Myanmar’s overseas reserves.

He alleged that the money was siphoned off by the former military regime from natural gas and gems exports at “hundreds of millions of dollars” annually, whereby much of the money came from Thailand.

However, Myanmar’s Deputy Minister of Information Ye Htut on September 12 refuted the allegations.

“The government doesn’t stash away the national budget in foreign banks. Give us the evidence regarding the $11 billion in five accounts. The government is ready to take action on it,” he said in a Facebook post.

Garcia said ADB staff told him that it was encouraging that Myanmar’s government was finally lifting the secrecy surrounding its Singaporean accounts – which at the time were estimated at $7 billion by the ADB.

However, the World Bank issued a statement also on September 12 distancing itself from Garcia. Although it made no mention of the reported claims, the bank said that “It is common for governments to hold reserves in foreign bank accounts in order to facilitate importation of goods and services and management of the exchange rate.”

Analysts say that the foreign money is now looking for ways back into the country’s growing economy, mainly into the booming property market, a reason why prices are currently skyrocketing. The money reportedly has also been used for arms purchases for Myanmar’s military.

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

A report by the Banking Information Center (BIC), a Washington-based non-profit organisation that monitors international financial institutions, Myanmar’s government was holding “up to $11 billion” worth of foreign reserves in several bank accounts in Singapore.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Singapore skylineA report by the Banking Information Center (BIC), a Washington-based non-profit organisation that monitors international financial institutions, Myanmar’s government was holding “up to $11 billion” worth of foreign reserves in several bank accounts in Singapore.

The figure was first mentioned by financial researcher Jelson Garcia of BIC, who said that the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) had provided him with estimates of Myanmar’s overseas reserves.

He alleged that the money was siphoned off by the former military regime from natural gas and gems exports at “hundreds of millions of dollars” annually, whereby much of the money came from Thailand.

However, Myanmar’s Deputy Minister of Information Ye Htut on September 12 refuted the allegations.

“The government doesn’t stash away the national budget in foreign banks. Give us the evidence regarding the $11 billion in five accounts. The government is ready to take action on it,” he said in a Facebook post.

Garcia said ADB staff told him that it was encouraging that Myanmar’s government was finally lifting the secrecy surrounding its Singaporean accounts – which at the time were estimated at $7 billion by the ADB.

However, the World Bank issued a statement also on September 12 distancing itself from Garcia. Although it made no mention of the reported claims, the bank said that “It is common for governments to hold reserves in foreign bank accounts in order to facilitate importation of goods and services and management of the exchange rate.”

Analysts say that the foreign money is now looking for ways back into the country’s growing economy, mainly into the booming property market, a reason why prices are currently skyrocketing. The money reportedly has also been used for arms purchases for Myanmar’s military.

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