The Straits Times
Published on Feb 26, 2013

US gives banking green light to Myanmar tycoons


YANGON (Reuters) - Two banks owned by tycoons associated with Myanmar's former military regime will start to do business with US companies and investors in the latest reward for the Southeast Asian country's rapid political transformation.

The US Treasury Department said on Friday that it would issue a general licence for four of Myanmar's biggest banks - Myanma Economic Bank, Myanma Investment and Commercial Bank, Asia Green Development Bank and Ayeyarwady Bank - allowing US companies and citizens to deal with them.

The easing of sanctions on Asia Green Development Bank and Ayeyarwady Bank underlines how politically connected capitalists of the old regime - whom the United States once castigated - are re-inventing themselves and retaining a strong foothold as foreign investors race to enter Myanmar.

The US Treasury's latest move also helps to remove uncertainty among US companies over lingering restrictions on their dealings in Myanmar and is expected to increase the domestic reach of US credit card firms Visa Inc and MasterCard Inc.