“Hotel owned by blacklisted businessman was only option, embassy says”

August 14, 2014

The Myanmar Times on August 14, 2014 released the following:

“By Tim McLaughlin

The United States Embassy in Yangon said that it failed to recognise early enough that a hotel it was assigned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was owned and constructed by a blacklisted businessman, leaving no option but to use the venue to host Secretary of State John Kerry last weekend.

The Myanmar Times reported on August 10 that Mr Kerry stayed at the Lake Garden Hotel Nay Pyi Taw owned by sanctioned tycoon U Zaw Zaw and constructed by U Zaw Zaw’s company Max Myanmar, which also appears on the US sanctions list.

The spokesperson said that the US delegation was assigned the hotel by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and asked for the hotel to be changed when they became aware of the issue, but other accommodation could not be arranged.

“We recognised late the owner of the hotel assigned to us was on the list, but less problematic alternative hotels that also met our safety and security standards were not available,” the spokesperson told The Myanmar Times on August 13.

Mr Kerry, who was in Myanmar to for a round of ASEAN meetings, did not violate any US sanctions with his stay. The International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which details regulations for dealing with SDN Listed individuals and entities includes, “an exemption for activities related to travel, including hotel accommodations. This applies to the U.S. delegation’s use of the Lake Garden Hotel,” the spokesperson said.

During his visit, Mr Kerry touted the significance of what remains of his country’s sanctions regime against Myanmar on August 10, describing it as a sign that Washington is keen to avoid rushing its engagement with Nay Pyi Taw.

“Sanctions now are very much focused on members of the junta and on key individuals who may still be representing a challenge to achieving some of these [Myanmar’s] goals,” he told members of the media while speaking at the Lake Garden.

Marie Harf, deputy spokesperson at the State Department, was insistent that hotel stay did not send mixed messages about US sanctions against Myanmar when questioned by reporters in Washington.

The US has eased most of its sanctions against Myanmar in response to reforms undertaken by President U Thein Sein, but still maintains targeted sanctions against some individuals and companies as piece of its “calibrated” reengagement that has hinged in part on a commitment to responsible investment in Myanmar.

Most companies and persons that appear on the SDN list are alleged to have profited from close relationships with the previous military junta. Entities and individuals that are SDN listed are barred from engaging in business with US companies and their assets are frozen in the US. A number of Myanmar’s largest and best-known firms are on the list.

US Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Tom Malinowski, met with individuals who are on the SDN list during his visit to Myanmar in June. He said that many appeared “very eager” to take steps to have themselves and their companies removed from the list.

Mr Malinowski, who did not reveal which SDN-listed individuals he met during his trip, said the legal process for getting removed from the list includes demonstrating responsible business practices and showing that an individual or entity has cut ties with the military

The Lake Garden property where Mr Kerry and his delegation stayed is managed by French hotel chain Accor under its MGallery brand. Both U Zaw Zaw and his Max Myanmg group of companies were added to the Special Designated Nationals (SDN) list in 2009, according to the Treasury Department’s website.

Max Myanmar and Accor signed a contract to develop three properties in Myanmar, including the Lake Garden, in 2013. Two other properties connected to U Zaw Zaw – the Max Hotel at Chaungtha Beach and the Royal Kumudra Hotel in Nay Pyi Taw – are on the SDN list.

According to the Lake Garden website, the luxury property has 165 rooms and suites and boasts a cigar lounge and wine cellar. Rooms were advertised as starting at US$115 a night. It was unclear how many rooms the American delegation was occupying. Other US officials in Nay Pyi Taw for the regional meeting stayed at a separate hotel.”

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
OFAC SDN Removal Videos:

OFAC Litigation – SDN List Removal

OFAC SDN List Removal

OFAC SDN Removal Attorneys

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

————————————————————–

International criminal defense questions, but want to be anonymous?

Free Skype Tel: +1.202.470.3427, OR

Free Skype call:

           Office Locations

Email:


“US planned to sanction disbanded border security force, say activists”

July 23, 2013

Myanmar Times on July 22, 2013 released the following:

“By Bill O’Toole

Human rights groups say a controversial border security force that was disbanded last week was about to be sanctioned by the United States Treasury.

The decision to abolish the force, which is widely referred to as Na Sa Ka and has been accused of human rights abuses, was announced by the President’s Office in a statement on July 14. “It is hereby announced that Border Area Immigration Control Headquarters has been abolished,” the statement said, referring to the group by its official name.

The statement gave no reason for the decision and presidential spokesperson U Ye Htut declined requests for comment.

But human rights groups based both in and outside Myanmar have told The Myanmar Times that US sanctions against the security force were “imminent” and the decision to abolish the force was likely taken to stop the sanctions from being put in place.

“There were plans afoot in Washington to list the Na Sa Ka on the [Specially Designated Nationals] list maintained by the US Department of the Treasury,” said Phil Robertson, the Bangkok-based Asia director for Human Rights Watch.

“A decision on that was imminent and obviously Burmese leaders in Nay Pyi Taw learned about this and decided to cut their losses by scrapping the unit,” he said, adding that he had been told this by people “in the know” in Washington.

Matt Smith of Fortify Rights International said he was not absolutely certain what the US was planning but agreed that “Na Sa Ka was being looked at closely by the US Treasury due to its abusive record, and was on the verge of being sanctioned”.

“This and other factors undoubtedly influenced Thein Sein’s decision,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Department of Treasury said he could not comment on possible Treasury actions.

Andrew Leahy, a public affairs officer at the US embassy in Yangon, also declined to comment on Treasury operations.

He did say, however, that “sanctions are certainly designed to hold people accountable. The reason they’re in place is to target people who hinder the reform process.”

The allegations raise the question of how the President’s Office learned of the planned sanctions.

In Washington, however, activists say the impending sanctions were relatively common knowledge. In February, rights groups pushed for the sanctioning of controversial government bodies like Na Sa Ka at a Congressional hearing on Myanmar.

“We know this was the discussion because we’ve been pushing sanctions for the Na Sa Ka and regional commanders [to the US Treasury Department],” said Jennifer Quigley, the Washington-based executive director of US Campaign for Burma.

As the recent decision to sanction Lieutenant General Thein Htay for his involvement in arms deals with North Korea shows, the US is more than willing to add new entities to its targeted SDN list even as it allows US companies to invest in and trade with Myanmar.

Na Sa Ka was a unique organisation that brought together officials from the departments of immigration and customs, as well as members of the military.

Its mandate was limited to securing the border with Bangladesh in northern Rakhine State.

Over the past year and a half, the 1200-strong force was implicated in communal violence in Rakhine State, particularly the persecution and exploitation of the Muslim Rohingya, who are commonly referred to as Bengalis in Myanmar.

Ms Quigley described Na Sa Ka as the most “violent and corrupt” armed body in Myanmar.

While sanctions against specific commanders are still possible under US law, several sources said they were concerned that the move to abolish the force would protect the Na Sa Ka from investigation for the alleged rights violations.

“U Thein Sein’s decision was based on … trying to short-circuit investigations of what the Na Sa Ka has done” and limiting public relations damage before his European trip, Mr Robertson said.

The 1200 members of Na Sa Ka have returned to their original organisations and a battalion of police have assumed the group’s duties along the border and at various checkpoints in northern Rakhine State.

It is not clear if the police will permanently take on this role and rights advocates expressed scepticism that the decision to abolish Na Sa Ka would lead to any improvements in the human rights situation in northern Rakhine State.

“In the absence of accountability, there is nothing to prevent the next security force from simply replicating Na Sa Ka’s abusive ways,” Mr Smith said.

Sittwe resident U Aung Win said he had not heard any reports of the police battalion engaging in the exploitation that Na Sa Ka was notorious for.

He said the most people were “very happy” to see Na Sa Ka disbanded, regardless of the motives behind the decision.”

————————————————————–

Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
OFAC SDN Removal Videos:

OFAC Litigation – SDN List Removal

OFAC SDN List Removal

OFAC SDN Removal Attorneys

————————————————————–

To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

————————————————————–

International criminal defense questions, but want to be anonymous?

Free Skype Tel: +1.202.470.3427, OR

Free Skype call:

           Office Locations

Email: