The U.S. Treasury Department is preparing to make it easier for American companies to do business through a port in Myanmar that is owned by a sanctioned company whose reclusive owner has close ties to the ruling military junta.
Since July, U.S. banks have been wary of processing payments for trade through the main port in Yangon, Myanmar, after it was discovered that the port is operated by Asia World, a company that Washington has sanctioned since 2010. Asia World is owned by Steven Law, who is also sanctioned by the U.S. government for illicit activities of aid to the regime. His father, Lo Hsing Han, was known as the "Godfather of Heroin," and was "one of the world's key heroin traffickers dating back to the early 1970s," the Treasury Department determined. He died in 2013. Representatives from Asia World told the Wall Street Journal that the company hasn't received special treatment from either the Myanmar military or government.
But now, following a warming of relations with the Myanmar government and under pressure from the U.S. business community, the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control is set to issue a general license that would in effect provide permission for U.S. businesses and banks to pay fees for the use of the Asia World port in Yangon, even though the money flows into the coffers of Asia World and the Burmese regime, two administration officials who work on the issue told me.
Full story: Chicago Tribune
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