Wednesday, 30 July 2008

US clamps down on firms linked to Myanmar


WASHINGTON (AP) - The Bush administration is imposing financial sanctions on companies suspected of being owned or controlled by the military-run government of Myanmar.

The Treasury Department's action Tuesday covers 10 companies including two big conglomerates _ the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited and the Myanmar Economic Corp. _ that each has extensive holdings in gem mining, banking and construction. Those sectors are keenly important to the government, the department said. All the companies are located in Myanmar.

Any bank accounts or other financial assets found in the United States that belong to those named Tuesday must be frozen. Americans also are prohibited from doing business with them.

It marked the latest administration move to financially punish the repressive junta in Myanmar, also known as Burma, and its backers for a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.

The United States last week blasted the Myanmar junta's oft-repeated promise to democratize as a "kind of mockery." The U.S. also renewed criticism of Myanmar for initially refusing international help after Cyclone Nargis in May, when several countries including the United States were sitting offshore with ships loaded with aid.

"The regime's refusal to protect and allow relief to reach the Burmese people as Cyclone Nargis devastated their country is but another example of the regime's heartless neglect of its people," said Adam Szubin, director of Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control, which enforces the sanctions program.

Three mining companies and an export-import firm also were targeted Tuesday. Myanmar Ruby Enterprise Co. Ltd., Myanmar Imperial Jade Co., Myawaddy Bank, and Myawaddy Trading Ltd. also were covered by the department's order.

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