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October 20, 2016

U.S. Terminates Burma (Myanmar) Sanctions Program

On October 7, 2016, President Obama signed an Executive Order terminating the Burma sanctions program.[1] As a result, the economic and financial sanctions administered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) with respect to Burma are no longer in effect, including the ban on importation into the U.S. of Burmese-origin jadeite and rubies (and any jewelry containing them), as well as all other OFAC-administered restrictions under the Burma sanctions program.

Individuals and entities that were blocked pursuant to the Burma Sanctions Regulations (“BSR”) are now unblocked and those designated under the BSR have also been removed from the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN List). OFAC stated that it will soon remove the BSR from the Code of Federal Regulations. Additionally, compliance with the State Department’s Responsible Investment Reporting Requirements with respect to Burma is no longer required by OFAC and is now voluntary. Please keep in mind, however, that the termination of the Burma sanctions program does not impact Burmese individuals or entities blocked pursuant to other OFAC sanctions programs, such as counter-narcotics sanctions. They remain on the SDN List, and their property and interests in property remain blocked.

It is important to note that in November 2003, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) found Burma to be a “jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern” under Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act and prohibited U.S. financial institutions from opening correspondent accounts for Burmese banks. However, in 2012 and 2013, OFAC issued general licenses authorizing certain correspondent account activities with Burmese banks. Due to the termination of the Burma sanctions program, these general licenses are no longer in effect. In order to allow U.S. financial institutions to continue to provide correspondent services to Burmese banks under certain conditions, FinCEN issued an administrative exception to suspend the prohibition, provided that certain due diligence requirements are met.

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[1] President Obama previously announced his intention to terminate the Burma sanctions program in a joint statement issued with Myanmar’s State Counsellor, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, on September 14, 2016.