A Myanmar major private bank owner has been taken action under two domestic laws for being linked with narcotics and money laundering, the local Weekly Eleven News reported Monday.
U Tin Sein, owner of the Universal Bank sealed by the government in August 2005, was charged under the country's Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Law and the Control of Money Laundering law, the report quoted Myanmar Police Chief Brigadier-General Khin Yi as saying.
Two other private banks, Myanmar Mayflower Bank (MMB) and Asia Wealth Bank (AWB), were closed earlier in March 2005 for being judged with linking with money laundering after investigation into the banks was made for the second time by a five-member preliminary investigation body headed by a deputy home affairs minister, Khin Yi said.
The two banks, established in 1994 and 1995 respectively, was first investigated by an eight-member government-formed investigation body in December 2003, the report said, adding that despite 15 months' probe into the matters, no firm evidence was found to prove the offense.
The U.S. Treasury Department, in November 2003, charged the two private banks with being institutions of "primary money laundering concern" and proposed that counter-measures be taken under the USA Patriot Act.
The then U.S. statement also accused Myanmar of taking no remedial action to address deficiencies in anti-money laundering system.
In June 2002, Myanmar promulgated a law to control money laundering, and financial institutions such as banks were set to report to the Central Control Board (CCB) their clients' fiscal activities and report any cashes exceeding 100 million kyats (100, 000 U.S. dollars) and any other suspicious account activities.
Meanwhile, the state-run Myanmar Economic Bank has rejected to offer bank services to deposits suspected as money laundering since December last year.
Private banks were nationalized in Myanmar in 1963 during the previous government but after the country started to adopt the market-oriented economic system in late 1988, private banks were allowed to operate again since 1992, and since then there had been 20 such banks across Myanmar with a total of 350 branches.
With the take-over of the three banks by the government and the merger of three other cooperative banks to become a public-listed bank in recent years, there remained 15 of such banks in operation as of the end of 2005.