The military junta in Myanmar has detained an official from George Soros’ Open Society Foundations and has frozen the billionaire financier’s bank accounts in the country under the suspicion that the group funded elements opposed to the February coup in the country, according to news reports.
Alleging election fraud, the country’s powerful military, known as the Tatmadaw, seized power and arrested Suu Kyi.
In the immediate aftermath of the coup, during mass civil disobedience in the country, the Global New Light of Myanmar — a military propaganda newspaper — alleged that Open Society Myanmar withdrew $1.4 million from its account at the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Bank, or SMED, according to Reuters.
That money then was exchanged into the local currency, the kyat; the military newspaper said this was done “without following the necessary rules and regulations.”
The newspaper also published a picture of Suu Kyi with Soros from 2016 in New York and claimed she had met several times with the Hungarian-born American left-wing philanthropist, the Financial Times reported.
According to The Irrawaddy, government officials took control of $3.81 million and 375 million kyats in Open Society Myanmar accounts at four private banks, including SMED.
While Soros is a divisive figure worldwide for his activism on behalf of leftist causes and against governments or leaders he finds either distasteful or despotic — and, indeed, he often has trouble discerning the difference between the two — his investments are held by some to be one of the initial causes of the Asian financial crisis of 1997.
As Business Insider notes, the Quantum Fund, which was partially controlled by Soros, bet against Asian currencies generally and the currencies of Malaysia and Thailand specifically that year. His short-selling position on the Thai baht eventually forced the central bank to devalue its currency, which was the first domino to fall in a crisis that lasted until 1998.
Soros has argued that the baht was overvalued and that, if the central bank had just devalued it, “The adjustment would have occurred sooner and been less painful. But the authorities allowed their reserves to run down; the break, when it came, was catastrophic.”