Myanmar junta restricts access to corporate registry database

The military recently restricted access to a database of foreign and local companies registered in Myanmar in an apparent move to limit transparency around businesses post-coup.

The Directorate of Investment and Company Administration (DICA) under the junta’s ministry of planning and finance has begun blocking paid access to information on the Myanmar Companies Online (MyCO) platform.

The MyCO database previously offered detailed information about active and former directors and shareholders, including their ownership stake in and date of appointment to their respective companies, and their ID numbers and birthdates.

Access to a company’s data could be acquired with a payment of 10,000 (US$5) or 20,000 kyat ($10) prior to the recent blocks, with media, transparency monitoring groups, and individuals following investments in Myanmar typically using the platform.

A DICA staff member confirmed the enforcement of the new restrictions to Myanmar Now on Wednesday, saying such information would no longer be available.

Companies’ publicly listed information—including dates of registration, locations, and directors’ names and nationalities—remains unchanged. 

Myanmar introduced the electronic company registry system in August 2018 in accordance with the 2017 Myanmar Companies Law. The initiative was funded by the Japanese government to support user-friendly online registration that would promote investment and private sector growth. 

The move was welcomed by groups that encouraged government-led initiatives around transparency in the economic sector, including the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business (MRCB). MRCB’s director Vicky Bowman and her Burmese husband artist Htein Lin were arrested and jailed by the junta in early September.

Rights group Justice for Myanmar said that the junta’s restrictions on MyCO are part of efforts to seize control of the country’s economy in the aftermath of the February 2021 coup, and to protect military officials’ business interests. 

“This will further help to facilitate their criminal activities, which include asset theft and money laundering,” Yadanar Maung, the group’s spokesperson, told Myanmar Now.

Myanmar Now previously exposed business interests linked to two top generals, Lt-Gen Aung Lin Dwe and Lt-Gen Moe Myint Tun. Both are members of the military council and the latter is the chair of the regime’s Investment Commission.

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