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May 07, 2008 

Treasury Department Issues General License to Speed the Flow of Aid to Burma

As a follow-up to yesterday's post about OFAC's issuance of a general license to assist relief efforts in Myanmar (Burma), the Treasury Department today issued a press release stating:

The U.S. Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), in consultation with the Department of State, issued a general license to help facilitate the flow of funds for humanitarian assistance to the Burmese people in the wake of Cyclone Nargis.
"The American people continue to demonstrate their concern for the people of Burma, particularly as they reel from the devastation of Cyclone Nargis," said OFAC Director Adam J. Szubin. "This license will help to clear the way for additional humanitarian aid to make it to the Burmese people swiftly and efficiently."

This general license is particularly needed in the wake of Cyclone Nargis and the resulting devastation. The issuance of this general license will ease the work of U.S. and third-country nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), as most will no longer need to apply to OFAC for specific licenses or registration numbers in order to transfer funds to Burma to support their humanitarian activities. The general license authorizes the export and reexport of financial services, including the flow of humanitarian funds, to Burma in support of the not-for-profit humanitarian or religious activities in Burma of U.S. or third-country NGOs.

Prior to the issuance of the general license, sending funds to Burma, which is generally prohibited under the Burma sanctions program, would have required the issuance of a specific license by OFAC. NGOs may continue to rely upon outstanding specific licenses and may apply for specific licenses to engage in funds transfers in support of humanitarian activities beyond the scope of the general license.

Existing general licenses already authorize the exportation or reexportation of financial services ordinarily incident to the exportation of goods, technology, or services, other than financial services, to Burma. This action will allow U.S. individuals and entities to send, and U.S. financial institutions to transfer, funds to Burma to be used to support the humanitarian activities of U.S. or third-country NGOs in Burma. Third-country individuals and entities also will be able to transfer dollar-denominated funds through the United States to be used to provide humanitarian assistance by NGOs in Burma. This general license does not authorize the provision of financial services directly or indirectly to the Government of Burma or to persons blocked under the Burma sanctions and such services remain prohibited.

All transfers authorized by this general license may be made utilizing the services of blocked financial institutions in Burma, provided the transfers are made through third-country banks (no debits or credits may be made to any blocked account on the books of a U.S. financial institution).

Please visit the following link to access the general license:
www.treasury.gov/offices/enforcement/ofac/programs/burma/gls/burmagl14.pdf
Editors Note: For those interested in contributing funds to the disaster relief efforts in Myanmar, a list of NGOs can be found at www.interaction.org/burma.

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