Myanmar Top Banker Shot and Possibly Killed; Junta Runs Out of Dollars Amid Central Bank's Foreign Money Crackdown?

The deputy governor of Myanmar's central bank was shot outside her home on Thursday morning, and there is no clarity about the official's state of health.

Initial reports said unknown assailants shot Than Than Shwe five times at her doorstep. Later, an anti-regime guerrilla group claimed responsibility for the attack on the central bank official.

There are conflicting reports about the condition of Than, the highest-ranking official in the country to have come under attack ever since the anti-Junta move gripped the country following the deposing of Aung San Suu Kyi.

Who Shot the Banker?

While pro-regime sources said the banker has died of gunshot wounds, the military regime has claimed that the deputy governor was admitted to a military hospital with minor wounds.

Scenes from Myanmar anti-coup protest December 5
Representational: Scenes from Myanmar anti-coup protest December 5 Screen grab - Twitter

While the Irrawaddy News reported her death following the shooting, the international news agency Associated Press also quoted a local official as saying that the official died after being taken to hospital.

The shooting comes amid protest against the central bank's order that foreign money held in the country must be exchanged for the local currency.

According to RFA, the order stipulated that all foreign currency, including the US dollar, must be resold immediately to licensed banks at a fixed rate of 1,850 kyats to the dollar.

The central bank move suggested the Myanmar regime was possibly running out of dollars. "This will make the dollar even scarcer and the buying and selling of dollars will be done under the table ... In that case, the kyat will depreciate further. The situation will just get worse. Imported goods will become even more expensive," said a Myanmar-based economist, according to RFA.

Myanmar government launches thin economic policy
Picture for representation Reuters

Yangon Region Military Command

Apart from crippling finance and trade, the move also affects ordinary citizens, especially those who draw their salaries in dollars. "The bank told me they cannot transfer the money to U.S.-dollar accounts due to the CBM directive. They cannot issue any currency notes or transfer money from one account to another in the same bank or to different banks, until further notice. ... You can no longer transfer using the mobile app either. You can only see the dollars in your account, but cannot get hold of them," said an individual who declined to be named.

Than Than Swe became the deputy governor of the central bank in the reshuffle following the seizure of power by the military in February 2021.

A rebel group known as the Yangon Region Military Command (YRMC), claimed the hit on her, saying she was the "latest target" to be taken down. According to RFA, the YRMC has carried out more than 1,100 attacks against the government following the upheaval of 2021. Some 1,733 civilians are feared to have been killed in the conflict while more than 10,000 have been arrested by the Junta.