Lifting of Myanmar sanctions

Financial Services Alert


On October 7, 2016, U.S. President Barack Obama issued an executive order lifting U.S. sanctions against Myanmar (also known as Burma) imposed under earlier executive orders and setting aside other statutory blocking and financial sanctions against the country. This action is further to President Obama's announcement on September 14, 2016 that the sanctions would be lifted, and is intended to support Myanmar and its civilian government in their efforts to continue ongoing reforms.

As a result of the new executive order, the economic and financial sanctions targeting Myanmar that have been administered by the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) are no longer effective. In particular:

  • Unblocking of SDNs and property. All individuals and entities that were blocked under the Burmese Sanctions Regulations (BSR) have been removed from OFAC's list of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDNs), meaning that U.S. persons are now generally free to deal with them. In addition, all property and interests in property that were blocked under the BSR have now been unblocked.

    However, the termination of these sanctions does not affect Myanmar individuals or entities who are subject to other OFAC sanctions such as counter-narcotics measures, and those persons remain on the SDN list with their property blocked. A searchable list of current SDNs is available online at
  • Revocation of jade and ruby ban. The embargo on the import of Myanmar-origin jadeites or rubies and any jewellery containing them has also been revoked.
  • Removal of mandatory reporting requirements. Compliance with the State Department's Responsible Investment Reporting Requirements - providing for the submission of periodic reports by U.S. persons with Myanmar investments that meet certain criteria - is no longer mandatory and is now voluntary instead.
  • Termination of OFAC banking restrictions. All OFAC-administered restrictions under the Myanmar sanctions program relating to banking or financial transactions with Myanmar have likewise been terminated.

Further, the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has suspended its 2003 prohibition on U.S. financial institutions maintaining correspondent accounts for Myanmar banks, so long as appropriate due diligence requirements are met. The finding underlying that prohibition which designates Myanmar as a "jurisdiction of primary money laundering concern" under the USA PATRIOT Act remains in effect for the time being, however, so appropriate precautions should be taken as needed.

Finally, even though these Myanmar sanctions are no longer in effect, OFAC may still initiate or continue investigations or other enforcement actions relating to apparent violations of the sanctions while they were in place.