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Treasury Sanctions Officials and Military-Affiliated Cronies in Burma Two Years after Military Coup

January 31st, 2023  •  Author:   U.S. Department of the Treasury  •  7 minute read
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Action Taken in Coordination with the United Kingdom and Canada

WASHINGTON – Today, on the day before the two-year anniversary of the brutal military coup d’état that deposed Burma’s democratically elected government, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is designating six individuals and three entities connected to Burma’s military regime pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 14014. This action will occur in conjunction with actions taken by both the United Kingdom and Canada.

On February 1, 2021, Burma’s military overthrew the democratically elected government and removed the civilian government leaders from power, including President Win Myint and State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi. Over the past two years, the military has continued to use violence and oppression to deny the people of Burma the ability to choose their own leaders. Burma’s military regime has used its military aircraft to conduct aerial bombings and other attacks against pro-democracy forces, killing and displacing countless civilians.

“Two years after Burma’s military forcibly overthrew the democratically elected government of Burma, the United States, along with partner nations like the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia, continue to stand with the people of Burma as they seek freedom and democracy,” said Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Brian E. Nelson. “The United States will continue to promote accountability for those who provide financial and material support to, and directly enable, the violent suppression of democracy in Burma.”

BURMESE GOVERNMENT ENTITIES

Following the 2021 coup, Burma’s military regime appointed new members to the UNION ELECTION COMMISSION (UEC) — including Thein Soe, who was designated pursuant to E.O. 14014 on April 21, 2021 — to oversee a post-coup do-over vote after rejecting the results of the November 2020 democratic election. The UEC is the constitutionally mandated body that is responsible for election-related procedures and activities, including organizing, verifying, and announcing election results.

Additionally, the regime has continued to control and benefit from the extraction and export of natural resources of Burma and has utilized various state-owned entities (SOEs) that are fully owned by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (MONREC) to act as joint venture partners, as well as regulators and policymakers. MINING ENTERPRISE NO 1, which was previously designated by the European Union on February 21, 2022, and MINING ENTERPRISE NO 2 are two such SOEs that play a dominant role in Burma’s mineral sector.

The UEC, Mining Enterprise No 1, and Mining Enterprise No 2 are being designated pursuant to E.O. 14014 for being a political subdivision, agency, or instrumentality of the Government of Burma.

BURMESE ENERGY OFFICIALS

Since the 2021 coup, Burma’s military regime has continued to benefit from the substantial revenue provided by the production and export of oil and gas, which generates over $1 billion in revenue annually and is the single largest source of foreign currency revenue for the regime. Burma’s Ministry of Energy is controlled by the State Administration Council, which was designated on April 21, 2021 pursuant to E.O. 14014; manages the energy sector; and controls the SOEs involved in the production of oil and gas, including the Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE).

Myo Myint Oo is the Union Minister of Energy. The Union Minister of Energy represents the Government of Burma in international and domestic energy sector engagements, while also managing the state-owned entities involved in the production and export of oil and gas.

Aung Min is the Managing Director and Than Min is the Deputy Managing Director of MOGE. As managing director and deputy managing director, both individuals are directly involved in the day-to-day operations and management of the regime’s single largest revenue generating SOE.

Myo Myint Oo, Aung Min, and Than Min are being designated pursuant to E.O. 14014 for being or having been leaders or officials of the Government of Burma on or after February 2, 2021.

FORMER AND CURRENT BURMESE MILITARY OFFICIALS

Additionally, despite the international condemnation of the collateral damage caused by aerial attacks, Burma’s Air Force has continued to launch airstrikes against pro-democracy forces that have killed civilians and caused the displacement of tens of thousands of people. General Maung Maung Kyaw, who was previously the head of Burma’s Air Force and was designated pursuant to E.O. 14014 on February 22, 2021, was replaced by Htun Aung, who was previously the Air Force’s Chief of Staff, on January 12, 2022.

Htun Aung is being designated pursuant to E.O. 14014 for being or having been a leader or official of the military or security forces of Burma.

Hla Swe is an ex-military official and a former lawmaker under the military-associated Union Solidarity and Development Party who has admitted to helping to provide training and secure arms for pro-regime militias. Hla Swe is considered the man behind a pro-regime publication that regularly publishes death threats against members of minority groups.

Hla Swe is being designated pursuant to E.O. 14014 for being responsible for or complicit in, or having directly or indirectly engaged or attempted to engage in, actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, or stability of Burma.

FINANCIAL SUPPORT TO BURMA’S MILITARY REGIME

Htoo Htwe Tay Za is the adult daughter of Tay Za, who was designated pursuant to E.O. 14014 on January 31, 2022. The Tay Za family, including Htoo Htwe Tay Za, are directors and shareholders of numerous subsidiaries and associated companies of Htoo Group of Companies, which was designated pursuant to E.O 14014 on March 25, 2022, including at least one subsidiary developing properties on land leased from the Burmese military.

Htoo Htwe Tay Za is being designated for being an adult child of Tay Za, a person whose property and interest in property are blocked pursuant to E.O. 14014.

On January 26, 2022, the U.S. government issued a business advisory to inform the public of the heightened risks associated with doing business in Burma, “Risks and Considerations for Businesses and Individuals with Exposure to Entities Responsible for Undermining Democratic Processes, Facilitating Corruption, and Committing Human Rights Abuses in Burma (Myanmar).”

SANCTIONS IMPLICATIONS

As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the persons named above that are in the United States, or in the possession or control of U.S. persons, are blocked and must be reported to OFAC. In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked.

Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC, or otherwise exempt, OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons. The prohibitions include the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any blocked person or the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.

The power and integrity of OFAC sanctions derive not only from OFAC’s ability to designate and add persons to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List), but also from its willingness to remove persons from the SDN List consistent with the law. The ultimate goal of sanctions is not to punish but to bring about a positive change in behavior. For information concerning the process for seeking removal from an OFAC list, including the SDN List, please refer to OFAC’s Frequently Asked Question 897. For detailed information on the process to submit a request for removal from an OFAC sanctions list, please refer to OFAC’s website.

For identifying information on the individuals sanctioned today, click here.


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