The Ministry of Information has submitted a complaint to the Interim Press Council after an Eleven Media article accused it of misusing funds in the purchase of printing presses.

The June 2 article in Daily Eleven alleged that the official prices stated for the purchase of the presses were higher than what had really been paid and that the difference had been misused.

But U Win Zaw Htay, director of News and Periodicals Enterprise, told journalists on June 6 that there was no substance to the accusations, which he described as “slander”. He said the Ministry of Information had video and audio recordings of all negotiations that took place before the purchase of printing presses.

“We have no printing presses worth millions of dollars so the article is just false reporting. We all know we should carefully check information before publication and issue a correction as quickly as possible if we have made a mistake in accordance with media ethics. So they should decide whether they are right or wrong,” he said.

But the ministry has also asked the press council to decide, submitting a formal complaint on June 5. U Win Zaw Htay said he was confident the council would decide in the ministry’s favour and hinted that the ministry is also considering legal action if no apology is forthcoming.

“This kind of reporting has caused misunderstanding with the public and is not in accord with media ethics. We assume that they intended to hurt the reputation of our News and Periodicals Enterprise,” he said.

“We hope the Press Council will give us justice. We will also seek justice within the legal framework for their wrongful reporting. But all will be satisfied if they make correction.”

The ministry’s said in a statement it had purchased an India-made colour printing press for US$395,500 and another press valued at $418,367 from Taw Win Myint Mo Company in 2013-14. Another set of presses valued at $700,000 was purchased in 2014-15, it said.

U Win Zaw Htay said these had been purchased transparently and in accordance with rules and regulations for the purchasing of assets issued on April 5 2013 by the President’s Office.

“In addition, we made records during every meeting for the purchased items with four security cameras and one video camera and we kept the movie and audio files so we had concrete evidence in case of any dispute.”

Eleven Media did not respond to requests for comment.

After the press conference, Eleven Media Group released a statement saying it had only been trying to highlight the misuse of public funds that can create losses for the country. It said it had compared the value of printing presses purchased by the ministry with what Eleven Media Group had paid for similar presses.