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John Kerry faces fire for stay at Myanmar hotel owned by blacklisted tycoon

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Secretary of State John Kerry was put on the defensive for his recent stay at a high-priced hotel in Myanmar that is owned by a tycoon who's blacklisted by the United States.

The tycoon reportedly has ties to the country's former military regime, Fox News reported.

U.S. State Department spokesman Jen Psaki said Tuesday that her boss didn't do anything wrong and that it was Myanmar's Foreign Ministry who actually assigned the delegation to stay at the Lake Garden Hotel. The hotel is owned by the Max Myanmar group — a conglomerate that's owned by Zaw Zaw, the blacklisted tycoon, Fox News reported.

But Ms. Psaki said that the International Emergency Economic Powers Act — the law that specifies how blacklisted companies and individuals should be dealt with — "includes an exemption for activities related to travel, including hotel accommodations," Fox News reported.

Most of the sanctions that were imposed by the United States on Myanmar have been lifted. But U.S. companies are still prohibited from doing business with those who are believed to have profited from their affiliations with past and current military officials, Fox News said.

Fox News also pointed that most of the hotels in the country are owned by cronies of the big firms — meaning that Mr. Kerry would have had a hard time finding a place to stay that wasn't suspect. Mr. Kerry was in the country over the weekend for a meeting with Southeast Asian foreign ministers.

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