Policies & Issues

In Strongest Move Yet, US Imposes Sanctions on Key Burmese Gemstone Entity

Policies & IssuesApr 09, 2021

In Strongest Move Yet, US Imposes Sanctions on Key Burmese Gemstone Entity

Myanma Gems Enterprise runs the country’s gem emporiums and is responsible for permits, licenses, and marketing jade and other gemstones.

Washington, D.C.—The U.S. Department of the Treasury has sanctioned the state-owned entity responsible for nearly all gem activities in Myanmar, the strongest measure it’s taken against the country’s gemstone sector so far this year.

In an April 8 statement, the department announced its Office of Foreign Assets Control has sanctioned Myanma Gems Enterprise.

“Today’s action highlights Treasury’s commitment to denying the Burmese military sources of funding, including from key state-owned enterprises throughout Burma,” said OFAC Director Andrea Gacki. 

Gems are a key economic resource for the Burmese military, which is behind the recent coup and is brutally and violently repressing pro-democracy protests in the country. 

While this sanction is targeted specifically at the military-controlled gemstone entities, the impact of the designation is very broad. 

Myanma Gems Enterprise (MGE) operates under Myanmar’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation and is a subdivision of the Ministry of Mines.

MGE is responsible for all activities related to gemstones in the country, including permits, licenses, enforcing regulatory framework, developing and participating in joint ventures on behalf of the state, collecting royalties, and marketing jade and other Burmese gemstones.

It also organizes emporiums and special sales three times a year for gemstones and jade, an important event for many in the sector and a major source of revenue for Myanmar’s government. 

“As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the entity named above that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons are blocked and must be reported to OFAC,” the Treasury Department said of sanctioning MGE.

“In addition, any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by one or more blocked persons are also blocked.”

Unless authorized by a license issued by OFAC or otherwise exempt, it added, the regulations prohibit all transactions by U.S. residents, or those within the United States, involving any property of MGE. 

 Related stories will be right here … 
The designation is the latest in a number of U.S. sanctions enacted against Burmese gemstone companies or companies with ties to the Burmese military.

Following the Feb. 1 coup, the U.S. government has sanctioned two of the country’s entities with mining interests, Myanma Economic Holdings Public Company Limited and Myanmar Economic Corporation Limited, and three gemstone companies: Myanmar Ruby Enterprise, Myanmar Imperial Jade Co. Ltd., and Cancri Gems & Jewellery Co. Ltd.
Brecken Branstratoris the senior editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments in the colored stone sector.

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