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U.S. lifts most Burma sanctions, shows ‘strong support’ for new government

Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor of Myanmar, The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control amended the Burmese Sanctions Regulations Tuesday to support trade with Burma.

The new regulations will make it easier for U.S. persons to live and work in Burma, OFAC said.

OFAC, working with the State Department, also removed seven state-owned enterprises and three state-owned banks from the list of blocked entities. 

“Taken in concert with the regulatory amendments to allow most transactions with designated financial institutions, this leaves few OFAC restrictions remaining related to banks in Burma,” OFAC said.

The former military junta changed the country’s name to Myanmar. The United States and many other countries continued to call the Southeast Asian nation by its traditional name of Burma.

The junta ruled from 1962 until 2011. During that time, the United Nations and most of the developed economies imposed sanctions.

The generals kept opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi under house arrest for about 18 years until 2010.

Suu Kyi and her opposition party eventually negotiated a full democratic transition with the ruling generals and took control of the government following elections last year.

On Tuesday, Adam Szubin, the Treasury Department’s Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said in a statement:

Burma reached a historic milestone over the last year by holding competitive elections and peacefully transitioning to a democratically-elected government. Our actions today demonstrate our strong support for this political and economic progress while continuing to pressure designated persons in Burma to change their behavior.

OFAC Tuesday added to the list of blocked entities six companies in Burma owned 50 percent or more by Steven Law or Asia World Co. Ltd. Law and Asia World are still on OFAC’s list of blocked people and businesses.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has alleged that Law uses Asia World to launder drug money from Burma.

OFAC puts people and companies on the blocked list to pressure them to change their behavior, Szubin said.

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He’ll be the keynote speaker at the FCPA Blog NYC Conference 2016

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