Office of Foreign Assets Control – designation for sanction

US and UK Join Canada in Designating Myanmar’s Military Conglomerates, with EU Considering Further Action

April 2, 2021

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On March 25, 2021, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) imposed additional sanctions in response to the ongoing crisis in Myanmar (also called Burma) by designating the country’s two largest military conglomerates:  (1) Myanmar Economic Holdings Public Company Limited (“MEHL”) and (2) Myanmar Economic Corporation Limited (“MEC”).

Because Myanmar’s military controls significant segments of the country’s economy, including trading, natural resources, and consumer goods, through these two companies, these designations are the most consequential sanctions measures that the Biden Administration has taken to-date in response to the situation.  By operation of OFAC’s “Fifty Percent Rule,” the sanctioned status of MEHL and MEC automatically flows to the dozens of their majority-owned subsidiaries that play critical roles throughout the country’s economy, implicating the Myanmar-based operations of numerous foreign companies that have touchpoints with the United States (over which the U.S. Government has enforcement jurisdiction).  Recognizing the far-reaching impact, OFAC has concurrently issued four general licenses (regulatory exemptions) that provide blanket authorization to engage in certain categories of activities that would otherwise be prohibited—including the wind down of any existing transactions involving MEHL, MEC, or their majority-owned subsidiaries.

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