Kanbawza Bank (KBZ), one of Myanmar’s most lucrative private banks, has tapped U.S. litigation firm Williams & Connolly to represent it after a recent United Nations (UN) report suggested that its holding company was involved in the funding of a “genocidal” campaign against the Rohingya minority.

According to CNBC, Williams & Connolly was hired in case U.S. or other sanctions arise following the publication of the report.

In the report, UN investigators urged world leaders to impose targeted financial sanctions on companies linked to the military in Myanmar, and said foreign firms doing business with them could be complicit in international crimes, according to Reuters.

A panel of human rights experts identified scores of companies tied to the army, which controls vast swathes of Myanmar’s economy through holding firms and their subsidiaries, and is accused by the UN of executing a campaign with “genocidal intent” against the Rohingya minority, Reuters added.

More than 730,000 Rohingya, members of a persecuted Muslim minority, fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state into neighbouring Bangladesh amid a military-led crackdown in August 2017 that the UN and Western countries have said included mass killings and gang-rapes.

According to Reuters, the report noted that KBZ's holding company donated $2.5 million for the construction of a border fence that has prevented Rohingya Muslims from returning to Myanmar since the crackdown, “knowing that it would contribute to the suffering and anguish associated with preventing the displaced Rohingya population from returning to their homes and land.”

CNBC reported that the law firm sent a letter to the bank’s CEO, Michael DeNoma, earlier this month that describes the agreement between the two parties, including a $250,000 retainer.

 

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