November 1, 2023

US, UK, and Canada impose coordinated sanctions targeting the Myanmar/Burma military regime

On October 31, 2023, the US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control announced that it coordinated with the governments of Canada and the UK to designate members and supporters of Myanmar’s military regime in an effort to prevent the regime from purchasing weapons to repress civilians in Myanmar.  OFAC reports that, following the 2021 military coup in Myanmar, the regime has used weapons to carry out atrocities against the people of Myanmar, including in airstrikes that have repeatedly harmed civilians and efforts to suppress pro-democracy movements.  As part of this joint effort, OFAC designated 3 entities and 5 individuals with ties to Myanmar’s military regime pursuant to Executive Order 14014, which targets the Myanmar military, its supporters, and leaders and officials associated with the regime.  Among the new designees is Charlie Than, the Union Minister of the Ministry of Industry in Myanmar, and Maung Maung Aye, the Chief of General Staff for the Myanmar army, navy, and air force since the February 2021 military coup.   As a result of the OFAC designations, all property and interests in property of these designees within the United States or within the possession or control of a US person are blocked, and US persons are generally prohibited from engaging in transactions involving the designated persons.  In addition, entities owned 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked.

On the same day, OFAC issued Directive 1 under EO 14014 to further diminish Myanmar’s ability to obtain weapons to be used against civilians.  Directive 1 was issued to prohibit US persons from, directly or indirectly, providing financial services to or for the benefit of the Mayanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (“MOGE”), Myanmar’s state-owned oil and gas enterprise that, according to OFAC, remains the largest single source of foreign revenue for Myanmar’s military regime.  The prohibitions in the directive will take effect on December 15, 2023.  OFAC also published two new Frequently Asked Questions to provide the public with a general overview of the prohibitions in the directive (FAQ 1138) and to confirm that the 50 Percent Rule will apply to the directive (FAQ 1139).

On October 31, 2023, the UK also announced new coordinated sanctions that target arms dealers and financiers of Myanmar’s military that were imposed in response to the ongoing and worsening aerial attacks against civilians.  According to the UK government, more than 600 airstrikes were reportedly perpetrated by the Myanmar military in 2022 alone.  The UK designated 5 individuals and 1 entity under the Myanmar (Sanctions) Regulations 2021 (SI 2021/496), which subjects designees to asset freezes and travel bans.  Among the new designees is Kyaw Min Oo, the director of Sky Aviator Company Limited, and Myo Thitsar, the Head of Department, Procurement and Supply of Dynasty International, both of whom are allegedly responsible for the repression of Myanmar civilians by supplying the Myanmar military with restricted goods or technology.

Also on October 31, 2023, Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Melanie Joly announced that, in coordination with the UK and the US, Canada designated 39 individuals and 22 entities under the Special Economic Measure (Burma) Regulations, in an effort to apply “coordinated, sequenced and targeted pressure on the Myanmar military regime” and lessen the adverse impacts on Myanmar civilians.

US Department of Treasury Press Release | Directive 1 under EO 14014 | FAQs 1138 and 1139 | UK Government Press Release | OFSI Financial Sanctions Notice | Government of Canada News Release