Szubin and Fini speaking at JCPOA London sanctions breakfast event

Please come to the Parliament Room at Inner Temple on 10 December 2015 for “Transatlantic Perspectives on the Iran Nuclear Deal and Sanctions Compliance”, an event on the Iran JCPOA sponsored/organised by Brick Court Chambers and Steptoe & Johnson.

There will be keynote addresses from Adam Szubin, US Treasury Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence and former OFAC Director, and Franceso Fini, head of the European External Action Service Sanctions Team, and panelists discussing the JCPOA and compliance issues.

The event is on 10 December 2015, 7:30am-11:30am in the Parliament Room, Inner Temple, EC4Y 7HL.  Details here. Chatham House rules apply; the event will not be recorded or reported.

North Drilling Co wins 2nd EU case

We noted on this blog here that the EU re-listed North Drilling Company for amended reasons after it had won its application for annulment in the European court challenging its original listing (on which see previous blog here). The European Court has now annulled that re-listing too, on the grounds that the EU Council had no evidence to support its revised reasons that North Drilling Co either provided financial support to the Government of Iran or provided support for its nuclear program. A link to the judgment is here, not yet available in English.

Oil Turbo Compressor’s 2nd EU case is inadmissible

The General Court Court has dismissed as inadmissible a 2nd annulment action brought by Oil Turbo Compressor Co. (Private Joint Stock) against its re-listing on the EU’s anti-nuclear sanctions concerning Iran. A link to the judgment is here: Case T-552/13 Oil Turbo Compressor Co. v Council [2015].   Oil Turbo won its 1st application (see previous blog here), but the Court held that its 2nd (and accompanying damages claim) was brought out of time.

Western leaders agree 6-month extension of Russia sanctions

A senior European diplomat has suggested that western leaders meeting at the G20 summit in Turkey have agreed to extend sanctions imposed on Russia for its role in the Ukraine crisis for 6 months until July 2016.  The EU’s economic sanctions on Russia are currently due to expire at the end of January (see previous blog).  The diplomat said that leaders, including the US President, German Chancellor, Italian and British Prime Ministers, and the French Foreign Minister, concluded that it was important to maintain pressure on Russia before scheduled elections in eastern Ukraine.

The EU’s sanctions regime on Russia prohibits (inter alia) financial transactions with major Russian state banks, bans the export to Russia of certain energy-exploration equipment, and prevents the sale of arms and some dual-use civilian goods to the country.  A separate regime, currently due to expire on 15 March 2016 and not part of the reported agreement, imposes an EU-wide asset freeze and travel ban on people and entities said to be responsible for undermining the territorial integrity, independence, or security of Ukraine.

New HM Treasury policy on licences for law firms

In recent communications between HM Treasury and Peters & Peters LLP, HM Treasury confirmed that it is updating its sanctions policy in respect of the information required from law firms seeking a licence to be paid by a designated party. Previous practice required law firms to complete a template application form that requested information on  the reason for the licence being sought, the legal basis for doing so, the transactions concerned, and details about the firm and the designated party.

The new practice will require law firms to outline each task that they envisage undertaking in respect of a sanctioned client in advance of a licence being granted for transactions with them.  The Treasury has stated that this is to allow them to assess the reasonableness of the licence request from an early stage.  EU sanctions regimes contain a derogation to allow for unfreezing of funds “intended exclusively for the payment of reasonable professional fees”.

EU court rejects post Kadi (2) terrorist sanctions challenge: Faqih & Ors

The Sanabel Relief Agency Ltd and 3 people connected with it (Al-Faqih, Abdrabbah, & Nasuf) have lost their annulment application based on grounds very similar to the Kadi (2) case (on which see previous blog) in Case T-134/11 Al-Bashir & Ors v Commission [2015] (General Court judgment of 28 October 2015).  A link to the judgment is here.

The General Court has held that the Commission had complied with its Kadi (2) duties of independently assessing the evidence for EU implementations of UN terrorist sanctions listings; the applicants had been sent narrative summaries, the EU had assessed their responses and the UN’s reasons, and they had eventually been de-listed.  The Sanabel Relief Agency had ceased to exist so the Court also held that it had no continuing interest in the proceedings.

HMT report on terrorist asset freezing

The UK Treasury has published its quarterly report on the Operation of the UK’s counter-terrorist asset freezing regime, for 1 July to 30 September 2015.  It reports that, as of 30 September 2015, it has frozen £39,000 of assets held in 45 accounts in the UK by 30 people under the Terrorist Asset-Freezing etc. Act 2010 powers.  1 new account was frozen in the previous quarter, and no new Terrorist Act designations.  £11,000 was frozen under EU counter-terrorism sanctions (Council Regulation EC 2580/2001) and £50,000 under the UN’s Al-Qaida sanctions regime.

EU Scrutiny Committee urges debate on JCPOA

The House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee has urged the UK Government to hold a parliamentary debate on the JCPOA nuclear deal as soon as possible.  The Committee had said in early September that since 2 months had passed since the agreement of the JCPOA there should be a debate on its possible repercussions, but that debate had not been arranged.  In the meantime, the committee did not take issue with the Minister for Europe David Lidington having agreed to the EU’s measures introduced to implement the JCPOA.