President Signs Burma Legislation and OFAC Designates Companies Involved in Burmese Gem Trade
Today President Bush signed two pieces of legislation aimed at Burma that were recently passed by Congress. First, the President signed H.J.Res. 93, which renewed import restrictions on Burma that were contained in the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003.
Second, the President signed H.R. 3890, the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE (Junta's Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act of 2008, a bill aimed at extending sanctions against leaders of the Burmese military regime and the Burmese gem industry, a large source of revenue for the Burmese government. The legislation is intended to prohibits the importation of jewelry from third countries containing Burmese jadeite and rubies and jewelry containing those gemstones. The bill was supported by the Jewelers of America, which has urged its members to seek, on all future orders placed, written assurances from their suppliers that they would not knowingly supply any gems mined in Burma, until the country starts the process of democratic reform.
Shortly thereafter, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced that the agency has added to the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List) ten companies owned or controlled by the Government of Burma or its officials, including companies involved in the gem-mining industry.
Today's action by OFAC targeted two conglomerates, the Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Limited (UMEH) and the Myanmar Economic Corporation, both of which have extensive interests in a variety of sectors critical to the Government of Burma, including the gem, banking, and construction industries. Four of UMEH's subsidiary companies--Myanmar Ruby Enterprise, Myanmar Imperial Jade Company Ltd., Myawaddy Trading Ltd., and Myawaddy Bank Ltd.--were also added to the SDN List.
Also designated by OFAC were the "No. 1 Mining Enterprise," "No. 2 Mining Enterprise," and "No. 3 Mining Enterprise," all of which are owned by the Burmese Ministry of Mines. The Cooperative Import Export Enterprise, a trading company under the Burmese Ministry of Cooperatives, was also added to the SDN List.
As a result of today's designations by OFAC, all assets of the designated persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction must be blocked and no U.S. person may engage in any financial transactions with the designated persons.