The international community can make it harder for the generals in Burma to steal the proceeds of the country’s natural gas exports, EarthRights International Senior Consultant Matthew Smith wrote in an op-ed for the Wall Street Journal (WSJ subscription required; PDF below) last Monday . The article explains that preventing corruption and money laundering can be accomplished through existing but unenforced U.S. legislation, and that steps to prevent this massive corruption are a reasonable response to the serious and growing problem of the looting of Burma’s natural wealth.
Coming on the heals of global asset seizures of the Mubarak family, momentum is building for banks to lift the veil of secrecy that enables the looting of vast sums of natural resource wealth by autocratic leaders. Although banks have a responsibility to know their customers, ultimately, each country’s monetary authorities have a responsibility to ensure their country does not become an country of prime money-laundering concern. ERI is pleased to hear that banks in Singapore have begun refusing some Burmese accounts related to regime cronies, and looks forward to more such action in the near future.