John Kerry checks into hotel in Burma that is blacklisted by US government

Naypyidaw's Lake Garden hotel is owned by Burmese businessman Zaw Zaw, who has long been seen as being close to Burma’s military and who remains on a US sanctions list

The rooms look comfortable, the reviews appear good and its location 25 minutes from the airport must have made Naypyidaw’s Lake Garden hotel seem like a more than adequate place for John Kerry and his delegation. The only trouble is that it turns out the hotel is owned by a once-notorious businessman who remains on a US's blacklist.

The US Secretary of State stayed at the hotel in Burma’s capital on Saturday night while taking part in a meeting of foreign ministers organised by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

But today it was revealed that while the property is operated by the French Accor SA group, it is owned by Burmese businessman Zaw Zaw, who has long been seen as being close to Burma’s military and who remains on a US sanctions list.

Along with the UK and Europe, the US began suspending many of its decades-old sanctions against Burma in 2012 as a newly-civilian government started releasing political prisoners and moving the country towards democracy.

But the Wall Street Journal reported that Mr Zaw, who heads the Max Myanmar group, is one of around 200 companies and individuals who remain on the US Treasury Department’s list of so-called Specially Designated Nationals (SDN). Sanctions on doing business with them remain in place because of their links to the generals who until recently directly ruled the country, and who still retain great influence.

Mr Zaw Zaw, whose interests include cement factories, bottling plants and jade mines, formerly owned a football team, Delta United, since renamed Ayeyawady United FC, which plays in the national league.

In 2010, a US diplomatic cable published by Wikileaks, reported that Mr Zaw Zaw had made the football-mad grandson of military leader Than Shwe – he once tried to persuade his grandfather to try and purchase Manchester United - a player on the team.  The cables describe the businessman as an “up and coming crony”.

With no small irony, Mr Kerry had talked of the importance of the SDN blacklist remaining in place when he spoke to reporters on Sunday in the grounds of the hotel. 

“Some of the sanctions have been reduced, [but] not all,” the Wall Street Journal reported him as saying. “Sanctions are now very much focused on members of the junta, and on key individuals that may still be representing the challenge to achieving some of these goals.”

The US has claimed Mr Kerry has not breached any rules. The Associated Press quoted State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki as saying the US’s International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which governs such black-listed nationals, “includes an exemption for activities related to travel, including hotel accommodations”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: SEO Manager

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are looking for a white-ha...

Recruitment Genius: Operations and Administration Support Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading Solar P...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Support Specialist

£18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organisation is changing the way at...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Web Designer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Web Designer is required to join a f...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor