Chinese Banks Freeze Myanmar Nationals’ Accounts

By Lawi Weng 21 June 2017

Myanmar authorities are leading negotiations to reopen 336 accounts belonging to Myanmar nationals frozen by banks in Yunnan Province, China, according to the district administrative officer of Muse Township across the border in Shan State.

Government representatives in Muse sent documents proving the legitimacy of account holders to the banks in question and the local Chinese government, said U Kyaw Kyaw Tun.

At a meeting of bank officials and representatives from China and Myanmar in the Chinese border town of Ruili on Sunday, Myanmar authorities told bank officials that accounts belonged to Myanmar traders who were not involved in money laundering, gambling or trafficking.

“We told [bank officials] our citizens made money from border trade only, and asked them to reopen the accounts as soon as possible,” he said, adding that the officials said they were still checking if the accounts were linked to illegal activity.

Chinese banks have so far reportedly closed 5,000 accounts supposedly linked to illegal activity in Yunnan Province, with more than 100 bank accounts owned by Myanmar nationals frozen by the Agricultural Bank of China.

The Postal Savings Bank of China and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China also reportedly froze accounts.

The Chinese Embassy in Yangon issued a statement on Monday saying Chinese banks had locked accounts in Myanmar border areas, including those belonging to Myanmar border traders.

The move was a crackdown on crime and illegal trade, the statement said, but promised to free legitimate merchant accounts and protect longtime stability with Burma.