On October 7, 2016, President Obama signed an Executive Order (E.O.), “Termination of Emergency With Respect to the Actions and Policies of the Government of Burma,” which terminated the national emergency with respect to Burma (Myanmar), revoked E.O.s 13047, 13310, 13448, 13464, 13619, and 13651, and waived financial and blocking sanctions in the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE (Junta’s Anti-Democratic Efforts) Act of 2008.
On the same day, the Department of the Treasury announced that as a result of President Obama’s Executive Order terminating the national emergency with respect to Burma, revoking the Burma sanctions Executive Orders, and waiving other statutory blocking and financial sanctions on Burma, the economic and financial sanctions administered by Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) are no longer in effect. This includes the following impacts, among others:
- All individuals and entities blocked pursuant to the Burmese Sanctions Regulations (BSR) have been removed from OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) List.
- All property and interests in property blocked pursuant to the BSR are unblocked.
- The ban on the importation into the United States of Burmese-origin jadeite and rubies, and any jewelry containing them, has been revoked.
- All OFAC-administered restrictions under the Burma sanctions program regarding banking or financial transactions with Burma are no longer in effect.
- OFAC will remove the BSR from the Code of Federal Regulations.
- Compliance with the State Department’s Responsible Investment Reporting Requirements is no longer required by OFAC’s regulations and is now voluntary.
The termination of the Burma sanctions program does not impact Burmese individuals or entities blocked pursuant to other OFAC sanctions authorities, such as counter-narcotics sanctions. They remain on the SDN List, and their property and interests in property remain blocked. Further, pending or future OFAC enforcement investigations or actions related to apparent violations of the BSR when in effect may still be carried out.
Treasury said that the removal of sanctions “fulfill the announcement made by President Obama during the visit of State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, stand as a testament to the far-reaching changes that Burma has undergone in the past few years, and are intended to support efforts by the civilian government and the people of Burma to continue their process of political reform and broad-based economic growth and prosperity.”
The Executive Order terminates all OFAC-administered restrictions and authorizations under the Burma sanctions program pertaining to banking with Burma. This includes the OFAC general licenses issued in 2012 and 2013 that authorized certain correspondent account activity with Burmese banks.
In 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. As a result, FinCEN issued a prohibition on U.S. financial institutions from maintaining correspondent accounts for Burmese banks. The 2003 finding remains in place, but FinCEN is issuing an administrative exception today to suspend the prohibition so that U.S. financial institutions can continue to provide correspondent services to Burmese banks, subject to the appropriate due diligence requirements. This exception is based on Burma’s progress in improving its anti-money laundering regime and its commitment to continue making progress to address money laundering, corruption, and narcotics-related activities. FinCEN intends to rescind its action in its entirety when Burma has made sufficient progress in addressing these issues.
FinCEN’s administrative exception can be found here.