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Myanmar Crisis

Key Singapore bank UOB moves to cut off Myanmar

Clampdown seen as response to U.S. pressure, reputational risks

Singapore's United Overseas Bank is clamping down on business with Myanmar, a move one Yangon-based foreign financial sector expert said could have a "huge" impact. (Source photos by AP and Reuters) 

BANGKOK -- A key Singaporean bank is cutting off counterparts in Myanmar, ending correspondent bank relationships in a move that could significantly restrict the military regime's access to the global financial system.

In a confidential note sent to Myanmar banks last week, United Overseas Bank said it would restrict all incoming and outgoing payments to and from Myanmar accounts, allowing funds to be moved only between accounts held with the bank. It also announced tough new curbs on Visa card and Mastercard transactions for Myanmar individuals and banks, which would restrict their dealings only to accounts within UOB. In addition, UOB said it would close Myanmar banks' "nostro" accounts at its Hong Kong branch -- foreign currency accounts banks hold at overseas counterparts to facilitate trade.

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