US sanctions Myanmar’s state energy company

Two government ministers and the chief of staff of Myanmar’s military have also been sanctioned.
By Alex Willemyns for RFA
2023.10.31
Washington
US sanctions Myanmar’s state energy company Myanmar activists call on the United States to sanction Myanmar's state-run Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise ahead of US President Joe Biden's visit to Japan, in Tokyo on May 22, 2022.
Philip Fong/AFP

The U.S. Treasury Department on Tuesday announced new sanctions against Myanmar’s state energy company – the military junta’s main source of foreign revenue – that will ban American companies from providing it with certain financial services starting from Dec. 15.

The limited sanctions against Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise will be carried out in concert with the United Kingdom and Canada, a press release said, and aim to “degrade the regime’s ability to purchase weapons to carry out atrocities against the people of Burma.”

From Dec. 15, U.S. companies and individuals will be banned from “providing, exporting, or reexporting, directly or indirectly, financial services to or for the benefit of” Myanma Oil and Gas, it says.

The move will “further restrict the regime’s access to U.S. dollars, which it uses to procure weapons and other equipment from abroad,” the announcement said, adding that the action “will limit the regime’s ability to carry out violent attacks against its own citizens.”

Research released last year by the Institute for Strategy and Policy (Myanmar) estimated that Myanmar had attracted some US$3.8 billion in foreign investment to its energy sector since the February 2021 coup, a figure worth more than two-thirds of all foreign investment.

Other sanctions

The announcement said five individuals and three companies from Myanmar are also being sanctioned, blocking American individuals and companies, including banks, from doing business with them.

The individuals sanctioned include Maung Maung Aye, the chief of general staff for the Burmese Army, Navy, and Air Force, as well as two government ministers: Charlie Than, the minister of industry, and Kan Zaw the minister of investment and foreign economic relations.

Also sanctioned are Swe Swe Aung, the director of the Legal Ministry’s prosecution department, and Zaw Min, the director of the Home Affairs Ministry’s prisons department, who stands accused of “torture.”

“Under his leadership, detainees in Burma’s prisons have been subject to torture, beating, and other inhumane treatment,” it says.

ENG_BUR_MyanmaOilSanctions_10312023.2.jpg
Maung Maung Aye, the chief of general staff for the Burmese Army, Navy, and Air Force, has been added to the U.S. sanctions list. (Lynn Bo Bo/Pool/AFP file photo)

The companies sanctioned are Sky Royal Hero Company Ltd., Suntac Technologies Company Ltd. and Suntac International Trading Company Ltd., which are accused of working with the Myanmar military on repair and procurement work.

“Today’s action, taken in coordination with Canada and the United Kingdom, maintains our collective pressure on Burma’s military and denies the regime access to arms and supplies necessary to commit its violent acts,” Treasury Under Secretary Brian E. Nelson said.

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