|Michael Moe Myint the Energy Tycoon of Burma.|
SUBJECT: BURMA: REMOVAL OF U MOE MYINT FROM THE VISA BAN LIST
¶1. (C) U Moe Myint, owner of Myanmar Petroleum Resources Ltd. (MPRL) and Myint and Associates, became subject to the 212F visa ban in 2008 due to alleged connections to the Burmese regime. While he is a successful Burmese businessman, he did not earn this wealth based on his connections to the regime. U Moe Myint is often at odds with the GOB, particularly the Ministry of Energy and the Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), and has repeatedly declined "offers" to enter into a typical crony relationship. Under Presidential Proclamation 6925, Embassy Rangoon requests that U Moe Myint and his family be removed from the 212F list because he is a legitimate businessman who does not provide or derive significant support to or from the regime. U Moe Myint is also a close Embassy contact, often providing us with valuable information on Burma's oil and gas sector and general economic information. End Summary.
¶5. (SBU) In 1996 Moe Myint, using the funds generated from Myint and Associates, established MPRL, registered in the British Virgin Islands. This company entered into a Performance Compensation Contract (PCC) with American company Baker Hughes and MOGE in 1996 to conduct oil and gas exploration and production at Mann oil field in Magwe Division. Baker Hughes withdrew from Burma in 1999 due to U.S. sanctions, selling its shares in the PSC to U Moe Myint for USD 1. Despite the complexities and expense of working in Burma's onshore oil industry, MPRL continues to produce oil for profit at the Mann Field (Refs B, C, and D). MPRL's operation is one of the most professional in Burma, even when compared to more experienced foreign oil and gas companies, United States Geological Survey (USGS) official Craig Wandrey told us during a recent visit (Ref E).
¶7. (C) U Moe Myint is one of Burma's most successful businessmen, and perhaps the most legitimate. By his own admission, he is the largest single taxpayer in Burma, paying more than USD 30,000 in taxes on individual and company income a year. (Note: Regime crony Tay Za, who allegedly earns more annually, pays far less in taxes, as his companies have a tax holiday, business contacts confirm. End Note.) U Moe Myint readily admits that the Burmese Government places pressure on him to "become a crony," offering him vehicle import permits in exchange for donations to government causes. According to U Moe Myint, he continues to turn down the offers, noting that he does not need to curry favor with the regime to be a success. While he does a substantial amount of volunteer and charity work, he does it on his own terms, choosing to support local NGOs rather than fund government-sponsored projects. U Moe Myint has a reputation in Rangoon for refusing to pay bribes or give gifts to the generals, economic contact Brett Melzer noted. He has paid the price for this practice, as the Ministry of Finance has audited his companies annually for the past three years, only to find that U Moe Myint at times overpays his taxes, MPRL Managing Director Terry Howe told us.
¶11. (C) U Moe Myint is a legitimate and respected businessman, who earned his success through hard work and ingenuity rather than ties to the regime. His sons have pursued degrees in geology and engineering, with plans to eventually come back to Burma and run MPRL. Embassy Rangoon does not consider either U Moe Myint or his family to be regime cronies. In accordance with Presidential Proclamation 6925, Embassy Rangoon requests that U Moe Myint and his family be removed from the 212F list because, to Post's knowledge, he does not provide and/or derive significant support to or from the regime. Moreover, he is a close contact of Embassy Rangoon, providing us with valuable information on Burma's economy in general and more specifically on the oil and gas sector.