• Myanmar gem firms say $100M ‘missing’ from industry fund

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    YANGON: An embezzlement probe has been launched after nearly $100 million vanished from a fund set up by Myanmar’s gem companies, a trade body said on Thursday, raising corruption fears in an industry notorious for its shady dealings. Mining—especially for jade—was firmly in the hands of the military and their ‘crony’ elites during the final years of junta rule, but remains cloaked in secrecy despite reforms under a quasi-civilian government that came to power in 2011. The fund, drawn from a 1 percent levy on profits from the multibillion-dollar extractive trade, has $7.8 million left from a high of $104 million, according to the Myanmar Gems and Jewellery Entrepreneurs Association. The group, which includes major mining companies that dominate the country’s trade in jade, sapphires and rubies, say the fund was set up to help develop local gem markets and associations. A parliamentary commission is probing the whereabouts of the cash and will soon publish its findings.

    AFP

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