Is Modern History’s Biggest Natural Resource Heist in Myanmar?

FAR EAST CORRESPONDENT — Global Witness has staked its reputation on significant investigations and reports into corruption by corporates and governments on a grand scale, particularly in Southeast Asia where objectivity and honest appraisals about the state of the environment are in short supply.

Its work in the East Malaysian state of Sarawak – where long serving chief minister Taib Mahmud retired with a family fortune worth an estimated at US$20 billion – was widely applauded, as were investigations into land grabbing across Cambodia by Vietnamese rubber companies.

Now the London-based environmental watchdog has set its sights on Myanmar, where it has revised the value of the illegal gem trade substantially higher, at US$31 billion in 2014 alone, almost half of the country’s entire GDP and 46 times government’s spending on health. The result is what one analyst says might be the biggest natural resource heist in modern history.

Read more from Luke Hunt in The Diplomat.

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Luke Hunt is a foreign correspondent, author and occasional photographer who has covered much of Asia fr the last 30 years.

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