6 June 2024

Singapore-based United Overseas Bank (UOB) will shut down all accounts belonging and relating to Myanmar’s Myanmar Airways International (MAI) by August 15th.

Documents, supposedly leaked from within MAI, show that UOB had sent them a letter declining MAI’s request for the banks to refrain from closing their accounts.

The letter further states that all 5 accounts belonging to MAI will all be closed and the process, such as remitting remaining balances, will be closely monitored.

In response to UOB’s actions, local news media Myanmar Now reported that MAI is now trying to open accounts at DBS, Thailand’s Kasikorn and UAE’s Emirates NBD.

So far, there have been no reasons stated by the parties for the closures.

Many believe this to be a result of the recent sanctions imposed by the US’s treasury department on Myanmar’s main portals of foreign currency payments, the State-owned Myanmar Foreign Trade Bank (MFTB) and Myanmar Investment and Commercial Bank (MICB).

MAI, much like many other major companies within Myanmar, is well-known to have close ties with the military and its top brass, both retired and those still in service.

The airline itself is owned by the 24 Hour Group, which also owns another domestic airline called Air KBZ.

The group had been called out by advocacy groups, such as Justice for Myanmar, for being a crucial tool of the military officials.

It has accused MAI of being a money laundering risk and 24 Hours Group of illegal actions, such as conducting large scale mining of limestone and coal in Rakhine State, on land seized from the Rohingya people.