Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Burmese Official Sacked for Nargis-related Corruption

The Irrawaddy News

Burma’s military junta has sacked the head of one of the key government departments involved in the Cyclone Nargis relief and recovery effort following allegations that he stole money donated for survivors of the disaster, according to reliable sources in Rangoon.

Than Oo, a former colonel who was serving as the director general of the Ministry of Social Welfare’s Department of Relief and Resettlement, was accused of stealing millions of kyat (several hundreds of thousands of dollars) from international donations intended for Nargis-related projects, the sources said.

State-run newspapers did not publish any information about the dismissal of the senior official, who was recently arrested and interrogated by the regime’s Bureau of Special Investigation, according to sources in Naypyidaw.

The Department of Relief and Resettlement cooperates closely with international donors providing aid for humanitarian relief and recovery work in the cyclone-stricken Irrawaddy delta.

“The Department of Relief and Resettlement is responsible for accepting funds and donations from international NGOs,” said a Rangoon businessman who runs a local relief organization for Nargis victims.

“The department is supposed distribute the aid to assist people hit by the cyclone. He was probably taken into custody because materials donated by international NGOs went missing,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Burmese junta is holding a secret meeting in its capital, Naypyidaw, where a number of other officials have also reportedly been reshuffled.

Burma’s top military leader, Snr-Gen Than Shwe, has retired or reassigned around a dozen senior officials, according to military sources. However, The Irrawaddy has not been able to confirm the reports with other independent sources.

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