HM TREASURY RENEWS FINANCIAL SANCTIONS AGAINST THREE INDIVIDUALS LINKED TO HIZBALLAH

On 2 March 2015, HM Treasury issued a notice stating that the final designations for three individuals linked to Hizballah have been renewed for a further year under the Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc. Act 2010.  The individuals named are Mohamed Al-Nasser, Mohammed Al-Yacoub, and Hasan Izz-Al-Din.

UK HIGH COURT REFUSES INJUNCTION TO PREVENT RE-LISTING OF NATIONAL IRANIAN TANKER COMPANY AND GHOLAM GOLPARVAR ON EU IRAN SANCTIONS LIST

The National Iranian Tanker Company and Gholam Golparvar both won applications in Luxembourg (the General Court of the European Union) to annul their inclusion on the EU’s sanctions list against Iran (see previous blogs on NITC v Council and Nabipour & Ors v Council).  The Council of the EU then indicated its intention to re-list them at a meeting on 9 February 2015.  NITC and Mr Golparvar applied to the High Court in London for an urgent injunction to stop the British Government voting in favour of their re-listing, which the High Court has refused in a judgment handed down by Mr Justice Green on 9 February (a link to the judgment is here).

The applicants sought orders from the High Court declaring it unlawful for the Foreign Secretary to propose, support, or participate in their relisting, and prohibiting the Foreign Secretary from taking any action to give effect to an EU decision to relist them.  The Court refused, on the basis that although the applicants raised serious arguments that their proposed re-designations were unlawful, they were the same as the arguments that could be made before the General Court in an application to annul a re-listing decision.  Mr Justice Green also held that the balance of convenience weighed against granting an injunction given what he described as the availability of “the full gamut of remedies” in the European court, and “the acutely political nature” of EU sanctions listing decisions, which are scrutinised by UK parliamentary select committees.

The EU published measures re-listing NITC and Mr Golparvar on 12 February 2015 (Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/230 implementing Council Regulation (EU) 267/2012 and Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/236 amending Decision 2010/413/CFSP).

US TREASURY IMPOSES SANCTIONS AGAINST HIZBALLAH SUPPORT NETWORK IN AFRICA

On 26 February 2015, the US Treasury Department announced that it has designated three individuals and three entities as Specially Designated Nationals (‘SDN’).  The designations are made pursuant to Executive Order 13224 and target individuals and entities alleged to be part of a Hizballah support network based in Africa.

Under the sanctions, listed individuals and entities will have all of their assets within United States jurisdiction frozen and US persons will generally be prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.

The individuals listed are:

  1. Mustapha Fawaz
  2. Fouzi Fawaz
  3. Abdallah Tahini

The entities listed are said to be owned or controlled by individuals 1 and 2:

  1. Amigo Supermarket Limited
  2. Wonderland Amusement Park and Resort Ltd
  3. Kafak Enterprises Limited

Speaking on 26 February 2015, Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Adam Szubin stated that “As these designations make clear, we will track Hizballah’s illicit activities to all corners of the earth”, adding that “Together with our international partners we are tirelessly working to dismantle Hizballah’s financial apparatus.  Wherever this terrorist group may seek to raise funds, we will target and expose its activity”.

EU PROPOSES TO MAINTAIN CERTAIN IRAN SANCTIONS AND AMEND LISTING REASONS

On 25 February 2015, the European Union published a notice stating its intention to maintain restrictive measures against forty-one individuals and one entity, targeted in view of the situation in Iran.  It also announced that it would seek to amend the statement of reasons given for each.

Those concerned appear in Annex I to Council Regulation (EU) 359/2011 and the Annex to Council Decision 2011/235/CFSP.

A list of sanctions in force against Iran can be found in the “sanctions in force” section of this blog.

US TREASURY IMPOSES SANCTIONS AGAINST NETWORK OF SLOVENIAN STEROID TRAFFICKER MIHAEL KARNER

On 24 February 2015, the US Treasury Department announced that it has designated five individuals and fourteen entities as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers.  The designations are made pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act and target individuals and entities involved in the international steroid trafficking organisation led by Slovenian Mihael Karner.

Under the sanctions, listed individuals and entities will have all of their assets within United States jurisdiction frozen and US persons will generally be prohibited from engaging in transactions with them.

Speaking on 24 February 2015, Acting Director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control John E. Smith stated that “With today’s action against the network of Mihael Karner, we are targeting key associates and front companies of a powerful and resilient international steroids trafficking organisation”, adding that “This action emphasises our commitment to target powerful drug trafficking organisations worldwide and their money laundering support networks”.

In addition to these updates, the US Treasury Department has also added three other individuals and three entities to its Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List, removed one individual and one entity, and changed the entries for two individuals.  A full record of the updates to the List is here.

HM TREASURY RENEWS UK FINANCIAL SANCTIONS AGAINST FOUR INDIVIDUALS LINKED TO HAMAS

On 23 February 2015, HM Treasury issued a notice stating that the final designations of four individuals linked to Hamas have been renewed for a further year under the Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc. Act 2010.  The individuals named are Imad Khalil Al-Alami, Usama Hamdan, Musa Abu Marzouk, and Khalid Mishaal.

EU SYRIA SANCTIONS ON MAZEN AL-TABBAA ANNULLED

HM Treasury has published a notice confirming that the EU asset freeze against Mazen Al-Tabbaa has been lifted.

The lifting of the asset freeze follows a judgment of the General Court of the European Union, handed down on 25 August 2014, annulling the EU sanctions listing of Mr Al-Tabbaa on its Syria sanctions (see previous blog). The judgment was not appealed and so the annulment order has now come into force.

Mr Al-Tabbaa was originally listed on the basis that he was a business partner of two people “responsible for the violent repression against the civilian population in Syria”, and the owner of a currency exchange which “supports the policy of the Central Bank of Syria”.  The sanctions on Mr Al-Tabbaa were first imposed by Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 410/2012 and Council Implementing Decision 2012/256/CFSP.

Maya Lester appeared for Mr Al-Tabbaa in the General Court.  A list of EU sanctions in force against Syria can be found in the “sanctions in force” section of this blog.

HOUSE OF LORDS SELECT COMMITTEE REPORTS ON SANCTIONS AGAINST RUSSIA

On 20 February 2015, the House of Lords EU Select Committee published a report “The EU and Russia: before and beyond the crisis in Ukraine” in which it reviewed the EU’s sanctions policy against Russia in response to its actions in Ukraine.

The Committee heard evidence that sanctions were having an impact on the Russian economy (in conjunction with falling oil prices), on the EU economy, and on oligarchs and businessmen, but had not so far changed President Putin’s policies in Ukraine.  An unintended consequence was that the Government was using sanctions to call Russians “to rally around the flag”.  Evidence suggested that they should be called sanctions against ‘the regime’ rather than against Russia.

The report suggests that if the situation in eastern Ukraine continues to deteriorate, “the EU should find ways of targeting individuals close to President Putin and consider broadening sectoral sanctions into the Russian financial sector”. The Committee noted that although EU and US sanctions have broadly been aligned, the US has targeted individuals close to the Russian government which the EU had not done, and welcomes EU Member States “uniting around an ambitious package of sanctions on Russia”. Sanctions “need to be part of an overall strategy of diplomacy and a political process”, which the Committee says is not yet in place, and that there was frustration in the EU that its offer of dialogue was not reciprocated by Russia. It suggests that while sanctions could be renewed in the short term, their progressive removal in return for “genuine progress by Russia in delivering the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine” should be part of the EU negotiating strategy.

A list of sanctions in force against Russia is on the “sanctions in force” section of this blog.