Banks Face Scrutiny Over Myanmar Ties

Leaked documents, obtained and published online by self-described transparency collective Distributed Denial of Secrets, indicate that major international banks have continued to do business with Myanmar's military-owned Innwa Bank after the 2021 military takeover.

Banks Face Scrutiny Over Myanmar Ties
Image credit: AFP/Getty Images [via Myanmar Now]

Facts

  • Leaked documents, obtained and published online by self-described transparency collective Distributed Denial of Secrets, indicate that major international banks have continued to do business with Myanmar's military-owned Innwa Bank after the 2021 military takeover.
  • Australia's ANZ and Singapore's UOB banks are among those that have transacted with the lender even after its parent company Myanmar Economic Corporation was sanctioned by the US, the UK, and the EU in response to alleged human rights violations committed by the military junta.
  • According to the Justice for Myanmar (JFM) group, Hong Kong-based insurance corporation AIA and Malaysia tower company "edotco" have used ANZ to transfer funds to Innwa Bank accounts while UOB has facilitated transactions between China's Cosco Shipping Lines and Myanmar Economic Corporation.
  • Innwa reportedly plays an important role in sustaining the military's economic interests. It does this not only by supporting regime-affiliated economic activities and transferring funds to units and officers but also by providing international financial access to its conglomerates and owners.
  • When asked about the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force's recent decision to blacklist Myanmar due to its alleged failure to take measures to counter money laundering and the financing of terrorism, spokespersons for ANZ and UOB stated that they would follow the recommendations.
  • Myanmar's regime has been accused of murdering over 2.4K, arresting at least 15K, and displacing 1M people since Feb. 1, 2021. Australia and Singapore have so far haven't sanctioned the junta.

Sources: Al Jazeera, mizzima, justiceformyanmar, Irrawaddy, and Myanmar-now.

Narratives

  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by Nikkei. As some nations have yet to impose sanctions on Myanmar's military junta, a few banks like ANZ and UOB remain legally allowed to transact with it. The West has and should keep building hurdles to increase reputational risks for those who insist on maintaining relations with the country's terrorism-funding regime.
  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by BNI. While some claim that financial sanctions won't affect humanitarian assistance in Myanmar, it's evident that the country's people will suffer the most from it. The economy has already faced a dire situation and being added to the Financial Action Task Force's blacklist can only shrink foreign investments, job opportunities, and trade.