Myanmar military files show systemic corruption and implicate international businesses
December 8, 2020
Justice For Myanmar has published significant data on military budgets, revenue and procurement, and names new international businesses that appear in budget requests.
Parliamentary approval of Ministry of Defence budgets fails to meet basic democratic standards. Big budget items do not provide the detail needed for scrutiny. The Myanmar military is protected under the system they themselves created, which enables systemic corruption. For instance, under article 20(b) of the Myanmar Constitution "The Defence Services has the right to independently administer and adjudicate all affairs of the armed forces.”
The Ministry of Defence is also exempt from oversight under the Auditor General of the Union Law. The military’s internal structure of financial and legal oversight is corrupted by the involvement of top officials in military conglomerates, creating a systemic conflict of interest.
The Myanmar military receives funds allocated by the Myanmar parliament, where the National League for Democracy (NLD) holds the majority. By rubber-stamping the defence budgets and failing to reform the political system that the military created to protect their privilege, the NLD has enabled the military to operate with total impunity and failed to address military corruption.
This must change during the NLD’s second term in government. Justice For Myanmar calls for the military to be brought under civilian control. The military cartel must be dismantled.
Justice For Myanmar has obtained Ministry of Defence budget files from 2016-17 to 2020-21. These show budget requests, spending and revenue. Data has been transported into Excel for usability in its original bilingual format. A PDF version based on the Excel spreadsheets is also being made available.
Justice For Myanmar has obtained procurement documents related to the potential purchase of two planes and the refurbishment of one plane, that implicate Myanmar and international businesses.
Aero Sofi C-295 Proposal and Note Sheet (PDF)
Aero Sofi A319 Agreement (PDF)
A319 Air Force Note Sheet (PDF)
XY-AGR Harrison Insurance Certificate (PDF)
XY-AGR Myanma Insurance Certificate (PDF)
XY-AGR Aircraft Specifications (PDF)
MSN1791 Engine Details (PDF)
XY-AGR avionics Fit List (PDF)
Justice For Myanmar has provided copies of all documents to the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), an investigative reporting platform and international media network.
Read OCCRP’s investigation – From Jordanian planes to German software, Myanmar's "genocidal" military stocks up
Read Justice For Myanmar’s feature story – A dangerous use of public funds: Myanmar military Airbus deals for troop transport and luxury travel
Justice For Myanmar’s data release provides new evidence of the military’s misappropriation of revenue from military conglomerates and land leases. Income from military conglomerates Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) and Myanma Economic Holdings Limited (MEHL) are not disclosed to parliament, additional evidence of the scale of the military’s grand corruption. Massive public funds have been lost, which the military can utilise off-budget and to enrich top generals.
These stolen funds belong to the people of Myanmar and could make a real difference in people’s lives, in funding schools, hospitals, jobs and welfare.
Instead of disclosing its real business revenue, the military only disclose a small number of mostly loss-making entities, draining public finance spending.
Unprofitable military factories included in Ministry of Defence budgets
- Tatmadaw Furniture Factory
- Defence Industry
- Tatmadaw Garment Factory
- Tatmadaw Shoe Factory
- Tatmadaw Tarpaulin Factory
- Tatmadaw Textile and Garment Factory (Meiktila)
- Tatmadaw Dried Tea Factory (Namsang)
- Tatmadaw Leather Factory (Mandalay)
- Tatmadaw Metal Products Factory
- Tatmadaw Football Factory
- Tatmadaw Canning Factory
- Tatmadaw Textile and Garment Factory (Thamaing)
- Tatmadaw Paint Factory
- Tatmadaw Shrimp Paste, Fish Paste and Fish Sauce Factory
- Tatmadaw Biscuit and Noodle Factory
- Tatmadaw Wheat Flour Factory
Lucrative “off-budget” military businesses
- Myanmar Economic Corporation, its subsidiaries, joint ventures and associated businesses
- Myanma Economic Holdings Limited, its subsidiaries, joint ventures and associated businesses
- Military build-operate-transfer leases, including for major international real estate development
The biggest items in the military budget lack the detail needed for democratic parliamentary scrutiny. Huge public funds are being rubber-stamped by parliament for the military without the essential democratic oversight. This feeds the systemic corruption within the military and enables the use of public funds to support the military’s off-budget business empire.
An international network of businesses continues to enable the Myanmar military to procure items, despite clear evidence that the military commits genocide, warcrimes and crimes against humanity. Knowing that, international businesses that directly or indirectly supply materials to the Myanmar military may be culpable for contributing to these grave human rights violations, which could include aiding and abetting the commission of international crimes. Items in Ministry of Defence budget requests are dual use goods, which can be used for military purposes, and machinery that may support the military’s business activities.
Justice For Myanmar has identified a number of businesses in budget requests. Technology from Alcatel (France), BizzTrust (Germany), Barret Communications (Australia) and Icom Inc (Japan) are for military communications, which could be used on the battlefield, contributing to international crimes. Items from Heidelberger Druckmaschinen (Germany), Ross Video (Canada), Grass Valley (Canada) and Vizrt (Norway) are requested for the military’s broadcasting and publishing capabilities, part of their psychological warfare program that spreads hate speech, disinformation and incites violence against religions and ethnic minorities, including against the Rohingya. Machinery from Caterpillar (USA), PFAFF (Germany) and FANUC (Japan) can support the military’s business and construction activities.
The UN Fact-Finding Mission has identified the military’s business activities as enabling their criminal conduct. Most of the items below are requested by the office of the Quartermaster General, who also oversees military conglomerate Myanmar Economic Corporation.
Any international business that supplies the Myanmar military may be aiding and abetting the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Justice For Myanmar calls on all international businesses to cut ties with the Myanmar military.