Myanmar

US targets Myanmar’s state oil and gas enterprise with form of sanctions

Reuters

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US targets Myanmar’s state oil and gas enterprise with form of sanctions

MILITARY RULE. Myanmar's junta chief General Min Aung Hlaing, who ousted the elected government in a coup on February 1, presides an army parade on Armed Forces Day in Naypyitaw, Myanmar, March 27, 2021.

REUTERS/Stringer

(1st UPDATE) 'Today’s action ... maintains our collective pressure on Burma’s military and denies the regime access to arms and supplies necessary to commit its violent acts,' says the US Treasury's under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence

WASHINGTON, DC, USA – The United States on Tuesday, October 31, imposed a form of sanctions on Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), the U.S. Treasury Department said, but stopped short of imposing full blocking sanctions on the ruling junta’s main source of foreign revenue.

The action, first reported by Reuters, prohibits certain financial services by Americans to the state oil and gas enterprise starting on December 15, the Treasury said in a statement, in the first direct action against the state-owned enterprise. Washington has previously targeted its leadership.

Financial services include loans, accounts, insurance, investments and other services, according to Treasury guidance.

Washington held back from adding the enterprise to the Specially Designated Nationals list, which would effectively kick it out of the US banking system, ban its trade with Americans and freeze its American assets.

Washington also slapped sanctions on three entities and five people whom the US Treasury Department said were connected to Myanmar’s military, according to the statement, in action coordinated with the United Kingdom and Canada.

“Today’s designations close avenues for sanctions evasion and strengthen our efforts to impose costs and promote accountability for the regime’s atrocities. We continue to encourage all countries to take tangible measures to halt the flow of arms, aviation fuel, and revenue to the military regime,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a separate statement.

Myanmar’s embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Reuters was unable to reach MOGE for comment.

Myanmar has been in crisis since a 2021 military coup and a deadly crackdown that gave rise to a nationwide resistance movement that won the backing of several ethnic minority armies.

Rights groups and United Nations experts have accused the military of committing atrocities against civilians in its efforts to crush the resistance. The junta says it is fighting “terrorists” and has ignored international calls to cease hostilities.

“Today’s action … maintains our collective pressure on Burma’s military and denies the regime access to arms and supplies necessary to commit its violent acts,” the Treasury’s Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Brian Nelson, said in the statement, using the Southeast Asian nation’s former name.

“We remain committed to degrading the regime’s evasion tactics and continuing to hold the regime accountable for its violence.”

The UN human rights expert for Myanmar in September called on the United States to further tighten sanctions on the country’s military rulers to include the state oil and gas enterprise.

Human rights advocates have repeatedly called for sanctions on MOGE, but Washington had so far held back.

Washington in June issued sanctions against state-owned Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank (MFTB) and Myanma Investment and Commercial Bank (MICB), which allowed the junta to use foreign currency to buy jet fuel, parts for small arms production, and other supplies.

Myanmar military officials have played down the impact of sanctions.

MOGE provides hundreds of millions of dollars each year to the junta, according to the Treasury statement.

Washington also imposed sanctions on three entities it said have assisted the junta in importing arms, dual-use goods and other materials, including from Russian entities under US sanctions, according to the statement.

Sky Royal Hero Company Limited, a Myanmar entity that the Treasury said contracted repair work from sanctioned Russian entities and has a relationship with a Myanmar defense procurement company already subject to US measures, was among those targeted.

Five officials, including the Chief of General Staff for Myanmar’s Army, Navy and Air Force, were also targeted. – Rappler.com

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