George Soros and his Open Society Foundation (OSF) are in the news in Myanmar after the military in in the country seized control of the Foundation’s bank account and issued arrest warrants for its staff members. The military regime in the Southeast Asian nation is accusing Soros’ Foundation of violating multiple financial restrictions which are placed by Myanmar on such organizations.
Myanmar Radio and Television announced it was issuing arrest warrants for 11 of OSF staff members, which includes its head deputy and the head of OSF, accused of giving financial support to the civil disobedience movement acting against the military junta. The reports reveal that the Finance Manager of OSF Myanmar is already in detention and going through interrogation since at least Friday.
The most prominent accusation comes from the military against OSF due to its failure to obtain approval from the Central Bank of Myanmar (CBM)’s Foreign Exchange Management Department for depositing 5 million dollars with the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank (SMED) in Myanmar in 2018. The junta also took control of assets totaling $3.81 million and 375 kyats (Myanmar currency) in OSF bank accounts, across 4 different private banks.
The military junta currently ruling Myanmar accused Aung San Suu Kyi of meeting with George Soros four times between 2014 and 2017, and with the vice president of OSF Alexander Soros six times between 2017 and 2020. The recent move by the junta can also be considered as an attempt to the finances of not only OSF, but of the political party of former leader Aung Suu Kyi.
The Open Society Foundation responded to the junta on Tuesday, and called for the immediate release of OSF staff members. “The Open Society Foundations are deeply concerned about reports that an OSM (Open Society Myanmar) staff member has been detained in Myanmar. We call for her immediate release. We are alarmed by reports that authorities are seeking to interrogate our staff members.”
The Foundation also criticized the accusations made against them by the Myanmar Military, saying “Claims of financial misconduct, including that OSM acted illegally by withdrawing their own funds in local currency from the SMID bank, are false. These funds were used or purposes fully within the objectives of OSM.” the Open Society Foundations told Reuters.
Their words seem carefully chosen, “within the objectives of OSM,” and thereby the accusations of the Military Junta could still stand, if it is within the objectives of OSM to destabilize the Military in Myanmar by financing civil disobedience movements.
The Army in Myanmar is in charge of the nation after staging a military coup in the early morning of February 2021. According to different sources, the intervention came after weeks of unrest and friction between the military – which had previously ruled Myanmar for 5 decades – and the civilian government, after allegations made over 2020 election irregularities in the Asian country.