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Anti-Corruption Group Imposes Sanctions on Burma - 2003-11-03

An international anti-corruption group says it is imposing sanctions on Burma for failing to crack down on money-laundering.

The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force criticized Burma for failing to cooperate in the international effort to fight money-laundering. Two years ago, the task force first identified Burma as a "non-cooperative" country. The group says Burma has made little effort to change the situation.

The Financial Action Task Force on Money-Laundering is composed of 31 member nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

It has urged all its members to place strict requirements on their companies that deal with Burma to ensure they are not cooperating with money-launderers. Also, it urged members to require companies to provide detailed reports demonstrating they are not involved with firms or agencies that might be engaging in the practice.

The task force's goal is to eliminate the tactics criminals use to process their money and make their profits appear legitimate. The group has identified nine countries as being non-cooperative, but Burma is only the second to have sanctions imposed. The other is the Pacific island nation of Nauru.

The task force says the situation in Burma is made worse by widespread corruption. It says officials have not enforced a 1993 anti-corruption law. And another group, Transparency International, has identified Burma as one of the world's most corrupt countries.

Burma is ruled by a military junta, which controls major industries and represses political dissent. Burma's economy received a blow in July, when the United States imposed sanctions after the government's detention of pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

The Financial Action Task Force recommended that its sanctions be applied gradually against Burma, and that financial institutions closely monitor their transactions with the country. The task force said it would review Burma's money-laundering record during a meeting next February.