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
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: Transportation Contracting Manager

£33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

Recruitment Genius: Experienced PPC Search Marketing Executive

£19000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: PR and Press Executive - Beauty

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A leading cosmetics group is lo...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Applications Engineer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Applications Enginee...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue