US slaps more sanctions on Myanmar regime backers
WASHINGTON (AFP) — The United States slapped additional sanctions against alleged key financial backers of the Myanmar military regime Thursday, citing the country’s imprisonment of democracy advocates.
The US Treasury Department announced its Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) had added two people and 14 companies to its lists of sanctions targets for Myanmar, which the US government identifies by its pre-junta name of Burma.
“Congress and the administration have made clear the need to apply vigorous sanctions against the Burmese junta as long as it continues to suppress democratic dissent,” said OFAC director Adam Szubin in a statement.
“The junta’s imprisonment of prominent democracy advocates confirms Burma’s unwillingness to abide by international commitments and underscores the need to maintain pressure against one of the world’s worst violators of human rights.”
OFAC has now imposed sanctions on 100 people and entities, “targeting key state-owned enterprises, senior junta officials, regime cronies and their business networks,” the Treasury said.
The action freezes any assets the designees have under US jurisdiction and bars any US citizen from having any financial and commercial transactions with the sanction targets.
The latest move targets “regime cronies” Zaw Zaw and Win Aung and their business networks, as well as the business networks of two already-designated cronies of the Burmese junta, Tay Za and Steven Law, the department said.
Zaw Zaw was identified as the managing director of the Max Myanmar Group of Companies, a Burmese entity with interests in the gem, timber, construction, and tourism industries.
The Treasury targeted eight companies of the group and Zaw Zaw’s Singapore-based company, Max Singapore International.
Win Aung allegedly made large financial donations to the Myanmar junta and has been a major support on construction projects. He was designated along with two of his companies, Dagon International Limited and Dagon Timber Limited.
The financial network of Tay Za, “a notorious regime henchman and arms dealer,” was hit with a third round of sanctions.
Thursday’s action targeted Espace Avenir, a Rangoon hotel owned or controlled by Tay Za, the Treasury said.
Also targeted were Sentosa Treasure Pte. Ltd., a Singaporean firm owned by Cecilia Ng, who was designated on February 25, 2008, along with her husband, Steven Law.
Nine firms that previously had been identified as being owned by Ng were also designated.
OFAC targeted Myanmar Ivanhoe Copper Company Limited (MICCL), a joint venture owned or controlled by the state-owned No. 1 Mining Enterprise, which was designated on July 29, 2008.
MICCL controls the Monywa copper project, the biggest of its kind in the country, located in Myanmar’s northwestern Sagaing division, the department said.
The action came in the waning days of President George W. Bush’s administration. President-elect Barack Obama is to be sworn into office Tuesday as the 44th US president.
The military-ruled Myanmar has been under international fire for years over human rights abuses and many citizens had fled the impoverished nation to neighboring countries, where they mostly stay illegally or apply for refugee status and seek resettlement in the West.