Myanmar’s Htoo Group faces sanction probe

ROME, 11 March 2024: Justice For Myanmar, a covert activist group campaigning for justice and accountability for the people of Myanmar, calls on Italy to take swift action against Htoo Group shareholder and director Rachel Tayza, following a legal submission presented on 4 March 2024 by French lawyers William Bourdon and Lily Ravon 

The submission calls for Italian authorities to investigate Htoo Htwe Tay Za, alias Rachel Tayza, for her alleged “involvement as a shareholder and director of companies that are part of the EU-sanctioned Htoo Group of Companies, and, where appropriate, to freeze her assets and to remove her from Italy.”

The submission alleges that while residing in Italy, Tayza continues to hold shares and act as director of at least seven Htoo Group companies, including ones formed after the military’s coup in February 2021 and those in direct business with the Myanmar army.

It points the finger at the tourism and hospitality company Ayeyarwaddy Resorts and Lodges Company Limited as one of those identified companies. Justice for Myanmar alleges it has build-operate-transfer contracts with the Myanmar army’s EU-sanctioned Office of the Quarter Master General regarding a multipurpose commercial project, including a hotel, luxury residence towers and a shopping mall on 22 acres of land in Yangon. 

The US, UK, Canada, and the EU have extended sanctions against the Htoo Group. On 31 January 2023, the US sanctioned Rachel Tayza for her active role in the Htoo Group of Companies and for being the adult daughter of the Htoo Group chairperson, Tay Za. The EU, USA, UK, and Canada also sanctioned her. Rachel’s brothers, Pye Phyo Tay Za and Htoo Htet Tay Za, are also sanctioned by the USA, UK, and Canada.

In its reasons for sanctions, the EU noted: “Htoo Group of Companies has acted as an intermediary for the provision of military equipment which was used against civilian populations protesting against the 1 February coup, all across the country and in particular in areas with ethnic minorities.”

Justice for Myanmar describes Htoo Group as a “key node in the Myanmar military’s international network of businesses” that provides it with funds through its network of more than 60 businesses in Myanmar and Singapore. 

One of the enterprises, Aureum Palace Hotels and Resorts, operates 11 hotels in Myanmar that are promoted and bookable on various online travel agency websites. International booking websites that accept payments in USD and Euro through credit cards could breach US and EU sanctions.

Another company, Myanmar Treasure Resorts, is under Htoo Hospitality operations, while Htoo Trading closed two airlines, Air Bagan in 2015 and Asian Wings Airlines in 2019. According to a Justice For Myanmar investigation, Rachel Tayza has been residing in Milan, where she recently completed her studies at a fashion school supported by proceeds from the Htoo Group of Companies.

Justice For Myanmar urges the EU to impose sanctions on the whole Htoo Group network of companies and individuals, including Rachel Tayza, as well as all other Myanmar junta cronies and brokers.

Justice For Myanmar spokesperson Yadanar Maung says: “Weak sanctions enforcement by Italian authorities has allowed Tayza to do business in Italy that funds an illegal and illegitimate military junta.   

(Source: Justice For Myanmar)


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