Myanmar Economic Holding Limited (MEHL) and Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC). Both were established in the 1990s when the country was ruled by a previous iron-fisted military junta. They are run by both active and retired military personnel, operating in the shadows without any independent oversight.
The Tatmadaw, as Myanmar's army is called, has built a vast business empire. Business interests span gem production and mining, oil and gas extraction, banking, tourism and telecommunications. Dozens of companies across diverse sectors of the economy are owned by the two holdings, many others are affiliated with MEHL and MEC.
A 2019 UN Fact-Finding Mission identified more than 100 businesses fully owned by MEHL or MEC, noting that it was certain that it had not been successful in identifying all subsidiaries. The authors concluded that "MEHL and MEC and their subsidiaries generate revenue that dwarfs that of any civilian-owned company."
The two holdings do not openly declare their revenue, making it impossible to gauge the extent of their revenues.
As the country carefully transitioned to democracy in 2010, the Tatmadaw and high-ranking military officials further built and consolidated vast business empires through the acquisition of capital, land and assets. In numerous cases, analysts say, state assets were sold to favored companies, including those controlled by high-ranking officers and their families.
The children and spouses of many military leaders own and run numerous personal economic ventures. In some cases, they were awarded lucrative contracts and joint ventures with MEHL, MEC, and their subsidiaries.
Many of the Tatmadaw's business interests are domestic — and so potentially less impacted by any international sanction. Those that rely on exports, namely the country's natural resources, including oil, gas and gems, are to a great extent traded with its Asian neighbors. And they have, so far, shown little appetite to sever ties with Myanmar. International sanctions had been imposed on the Burmese military junta for many years and such measures have failed to rein in the regime.