China freezes bank accounts of Myanmar companies

Three banks in Yunnan Province, China froze the bank accounts of over 100 Myanmar companies engaged in border trade last week over possible links to illegal internet gambling and smuggling, prompting swift action from the Union Minister for Commerce to try and reopen the accounts, according to officials in China and Myanmar.

The frozen accounts were from three banks, the Agricultural Bank of China, China Construction Bank and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, all located in Shweli, Yunnan Province, on the border of Shan State. A delegation led by the Union Minister for Commerce met with the Consulate- General of China on Thursday to negotiate the reopening of the accounts. The Ministry also contacted the Chinese Embassy in Myanmar to talk about possible solutions when more bank accounts were frozen on Friday.

The Ministry also contacted the secretary of the political party in Shweli and an official from Shweli’s Foreign Affairs Department for an official explanation as to why the bank accounts were frozen and made negotiations to reopen the bank accounts as soon as possible.

A meeting was held on Saturday at the Myanmar Pulse, Beans and Sesame Seeds Merchants Association at Muse 105-mile trade camp to discuss the frozen bank accounts. The meeting was attended by Hluttaw representatives, officials from NGOs, the chairman and 180 members of the association.

On Sunday, the Director of the Muse 105-mile trade camp and the Deputy Commissioner of Muse met with a delegation led by Shweli’s Deputy Mayor in Muse. The Deputy Mayor of Shweli said 349 bank accounts were frozen to investigate possible links to internet gambling and smuggled goods from users in Lwaw MonKoo, Anwei Township and Inner Mongolia in China. He said 132 bank accounts owned by Myanmar citizens were among the accounts frozen.

The Deputy Mayor said it will take some time to finish the overall inspection of all the frozen bank accounts, but said they will do their best to reopen bank accounts not connected with alleged criminal activity.

In a phone call made by the Ministry of Commerce to the Chinese Embassy on Sunday, it was learnt that a special committee headed by the Deputy Mayor of Shweli was formed to investigate the criminal allegations. It was learnt that the actions were made without the knowledge of the Yunnan Government.

The Ministry of Commerce said it will continue negotiations to reopen the accounts.

Source: The Global New Light of Myanmar