Dirty Secrets #2: Sr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing’s family selling FDA and Customs clearance for profit
August 14, 2020
Min Aung Hlaing’s family medical business, A&M Mahar, is offering Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approvals and customs clearance for drugs and medical devices, in a shocking conflict of interest, damaging the integrity of Myanmar’s FDA system and raising new corruption concerns within the Customs Department. Aung Pyae Sone, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing’s son, is an A&M Mahar director and shareholder.
According to FDA notifications, A&M Mahar received approval for at least two products in 2019 and 2020: Multi-Gyn Activegel, a vaginal cream from Sweden’s Karo Pharma and Hemo Block, a hemostatic dressing from South Korea’s Incore Co. Ltd. A&M Mahar is importing these items, as well as handling marketing and distribution. The A&M Mahar website describes the organisation as “a well-established partner of the FDA … We have successfully supported all regulatory activities for our products from our partners in Korea, Netherland, Thailand, Vietnam and China.”
Other products sold by A&M Mahar include Dehecta, a diarrhea treatment licenced by Daewong Pharma Co. Ltd.,which is listed on the Seoul Stock Exchange; and Nature Hugs baby diapers.
Conflict of Interest
A&M Mahar claims to “possess the capability to efficiently import and clear customs for much-needed pharmaceutical and medical products.” Myanmar’s Customs Department is headed by retired Brigadier General Kyaw Htin, a former director of military conglomerate Myanma Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL).
The government recently announced that Brigadier General Kyaw Htin has resigned from the MEHL board due to an unlawful conflict of interest. However, he remains the head of the Customs Department, where he is in a position to support military conglomerates and the family businesses of top generals, like A&M Mahar.
In 2017, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing opened Kan Thar Yar International Specialist Hospital, a private for-profit facility under military conglomerate Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC). Despite being built on public land and at public expense, profits from Kan Thar Yar are off-budget and the hospital operates without civilian oversight.
In a June 2020 press conference, Brigadier General Aung Kyaw Hoe claimed that MEC is a military-owned private company. The company operates with zero civilian oversight, and denies the people of Myanmar access to MEC profits and public assets.
At this time, there is no evidence of business links between Kan Thar Yar Hospital and A&M Mahar.
Enriching the Military Cartel
The family businesses of military generals feed corruption – as can be seen in the conflict of interest involving A&M Mahar’s sale of FDA approvals and customs clearance. As long as the Myanmar military remain in business and outside of any democratic controls, the power abuse and corruption will continue.
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing is on a US public designation list for “gross violations of human rights.” The designation bans Senior General Min Aung Hlaing’s immediate family, including Aung Pyae Sone, from travel to the USA. In July 2020, Senior General Min Aung Hlaing was added to the UK Sanctions List and is subject to a travel ban and asset freeze for “unlawful killings, including through systematic burning of Rohingya houses and buildings, massacre, torture, forced labour, systematic rape and other forms of targeted sexual violence, and enforced labour”. Doing business with Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and his family enables his continued criminal conduct.
It is time for change.
What Happens Next?
Justice For Myanmar calls on Karo Pharma, Incore Co. Ltd., Daewong Pharma Co. Ltd., and all other businesses to cut ties with Senior General Min Aung Hlaing and his family. Doing business with Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, and other top generals, enables them to maintain their grip on power, block democratic reforms and commit grave human rights violations against ethnic communities.
Justice For Myanmar calls on the Myanmar government to thoroughly and systematically investigate all FDA approvals to A&M Mahar and other businesses controlled by military generals.
The people of Myanmar deserve a government that serves them and is accountable to them.