Myanmar’s ousted government has asked the US Federal Reserve to release $1 billion of its frozen funds in a bid to create a new central bank and issue its own crypto, Bloomberg reports.
Since February 2021, a portion of Myanmar’s reserves have been frozen by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in response to the country’s military coup that exiled its democratic government and its leader, Aung San Suu Kyi.
“We just need the US blessing that allows us to use the frozen money virtually,” said the National Unity Government’s minister of planning, finance, and investment, Tin Tun Naing, in an interview with Bloomberg (our emphasis).
The funds would be used to support the deposed government in its attempts to regain control of Myanmar, which has fallen into economic and political turmoil.
While a long shot, Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido was granted access to US-held government funds in a bid to suppress President Nicolas Maduro’s foothold.
It remains unclear how the ousted government in Myanmar would use the funds to support itself, however it has previously raised significant funds.
As noted by Bloomberg, the National Unity Government sold “Spring Revolution Special Treasury Bonds” and raised $53 million through a mock auction of mansions owned by the country’s current junta leader, Min Aung Hlaing.
- In May 2020, Myanmar’s central bank said it doesn’t recognize crypto.
- Controversial stablecoin Tether was labelled an “official currency” by the exiled government in December 2021 as an alternative way to raise funds.
- A month later, the junta sought to ban crypto and VPNs in an attempt to quell revolution.
Myanmar military government 180s on crypto
The junta announced plans to issue its own Myanmar crypto in February this year, just a month after planning to ban it altogether. “A digital currency will help improve financial activities,” Major General Saw Min Tun said.
Myanmar’s currency, the kyat, is down 37% against the US dollar since the coup in February 2021, yet it remains unlikely a digital currency would alleviate pressure. “We are undecided whether we should do it as a joint venture with local companies or by the government alone,” the Major General further stated.
The junta has taken increasingly violent measures to prevent a return of the National Unity Government, recently executing four political activists. Since the coup, over 2,100 civilians have been killed and more than 15,000 have been arrested, the United Nations reports.
Aung San Suu Kyi has been in detention since the military seized power and has since been found guilty for a series of offences she and her supporters deny. She was sentenced to 17 years in total — just last week, the 77-year-old deposed leader was found guilty of election fraud and handed an extra three years in prison with hard labor.
Her treatment has raised serious concerns by the United Nations special envoy on Myanmar, Noeleen Heyzer. “I am very concerned about her health and condemn her sentence for hard labor,” Heyzed said in Singapore on Monday.
The envoy visited Myanmar this month and has said a return visit was possible if a meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi could be promised.