Bangladesh freezes accounts of 2 US-sanctioned Myanmar state banks

Bangladesh freezes accounts of 2 US-sanctioned Myanmar state banks

State lender Sonali Bank freezes $1.4M in accounts of Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank, Myanmar Investment and Commercial Bank

By SM Najmus Sakib

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AA) - Bangladesh’s biggest state lender Sonali Bank froze the accounts of two of Myanmar’s state-owned banks hit by US sanctions earlier this year, an official said on Thursday.

The two sanctioned lenders, Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank and Myanmar Investment and Commercial Bank, held accounts totaling £1.1 million ($1.4 million) at Sonali Bank.

Sonali Bank Managing Director Md. Afzal Karim confirmed the move, local media reported.

“The two Myanmar banks have £1.1 million in their Sonali Bank accounts and the funds will also remain frozen,” Afzal said, according to local Bdnews24. The report added that Bangladesh’s central bank, Bangladesh Bank, would decide on the next course of action in the matter.

Bangladesh Bank spokesman Md. Mezbaul Haque told Anadolu over the phone that central bank officials were examining the matter and would soon announce its opinion.

“We usually immediately freeze any bank account if there is any sanction from the UN. But when it comes from any other country, we examine and analyze and then take official measures,” he explained.

The US Embassy in the capital Dhaka recently forwarded a letter to the Bangladeshi Foreign Ministry requesting that the sanctioned lenders’ accounts in Bangladeshi state banks be frozen.

The Foreign Ministry later sent the letter to Sonali Bank for it to take action.

Meanwhile, Sonali Bank also has now-frozen accounts totaling £170,000 at two US-sanctioned Myanmar banks.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control, an agency under the US Treasury Department, imposed sanctions on the Myanmar banks in June this year.

Bangladeshi officials did not disclose details on the specific grounds upon which they were asked to freeze the accounts.

After the sanctions were imposed, the Office of Foreign Assets Control said in a statement that the military regime in Myanmar relied on state-owned financial institutions that served as foreign currency exchanges.

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