THIRD COUNTRIES ENDORSE EU SANCTIONS AGAINST CRIMEA

The EU has announced that Candidate Countries Montenegro and Albania, EFTA countries Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, as well as Ukraine and Georgia have aligned themselves with the EU’s Decision in June to extend sanctions against Crimea and Sevastopol for a further year until June 2016 (see previous blog). Accordingly, the countries will ensure that their national policies conform to Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/959.

The sanctions were imposed in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol last year. They prohibit importing products originating in Crimea or Sevastopol, investing in or providing financial services to Crimea or Sevastopol, providing tourism services to the region, and exporting goods or technologies to Crimea or Sevastopol for use in the transport, telecommunications, and energy sectors or in the oil, gas, and minerals industries or providing related services.

HM TREASURY ANNOUNCES DELISTING OF 2 PETROPARS COMPANIES

In May, Petropars Aria Kish Operation and Management (POMC) and Petropars Resources Engineering Kish (PRE), two Iranian companies operating in the oil, gas, and petrochemical sectors, successfully applied to have their Iranian sanctions listings annulled before the General Court of the EU (see previous blog). The 2 month and 10 day period in which it was possible for the EU Council to appeal this decision has now passed, and accordingly HM Treasury has published a notice announcing their delisting.

The companies were originally listed by Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 522/2013.

UK GOVERNMENT SURVEYS BUSINESSES ON POST-SANCTIONS OPPORTUNITIES IN IRAN

UK Trade and Investment, jointly part of the Department for Business, Industry, and Skills and the Foreign Office, has issued a survey to British businesses canvassing them on their interest in the Iranian market and what kind of support they think they will require in order to begin operating there once sanctions are lifted (see previous blog). The survey also asks what ongoing barriers to doing business in Iran they have identified, and what they think it would be financially worth to them if those barriers were removed.

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s current guidance on doing business with Iran is here.

NEW OFAC NORTH KOREA LISTINGS

OFAC has listed as Specially Designated Nationals Senat Shipping Company and its President, Leonard Lai, for providing material support to Ocean Maritime Management Company (OMMC), a North Korean shipping company that OFAC has previously designated for attempting to conceal shipments of arms and related material into the DPRK. It has also listed the vessel “Dawnlight” as blocked property of Senat. Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Adam Szubin stated in the Treasury’s press release that “Arms shipments transported by OMMC serve as a key resource for North Korea’s ongoing proliferation activities. Sales from these shipments contribute to North Korea’s other illicit programs”.

In addition, OFAC has updated the existing entries of OMMC and two officials at Tanchon Commercial Bank, an entity said to be the primary financial facilitator of North Korea’s ballistic missile program. The updates add aliases for the listed persons, reflecting the use of front companies and alternative names to evade sanctions.

COURT OF APPEAL REJECTS SARKANDI APPEAL ON CLOSED MATERIAL PROCEDURES

We have previously reported on the Sarkandi case here, a judicial review of a decision by the Foreign Secretary to propose the listing of 5 Iranian people for the EU’s Iran sanctions, in which the High Court granted the Government a declaration under section 6 of the Justice & Security Act that these were proceedings in which an application for a closed hearing may be made.

The Court of Appeal has now upheld that judgment in Sarkandi & Ors v Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs [2015] EWCA Civ 687. The Court found that the judge was right to find that the 2 preconditions for allowing a closed hearing, that the Foreign Secretary would be required to disclose sensitive material in the course of the proceedings and that a closed hearing would be in the interests of the fair and effective administration of justice, were met.

The court rejected the argument that sensitive material could not be relevant because it was legally impermissible for the FCO to rely on it. On the second condition, the court rejected the submission that a declaration ought to be a last resort because of the inherent unfairness of a closed material procedure. The appellants had said that although Parliament has decided that there are some circumstances in which a closed procedure ought to be permitted, it had provided this should only be done where a Court is satisfied that such a course is in the interests of the fair and effective administration of justice in the proceedings, and the assessment of whether it is fair to make the declaration is left to the discretion of the Court, and should be exercised from the starting point that a CMP is itself inherently unfair, and that the Act ought to be read restrictively in accordance with the principle of legality.

Maya Lester acts for the appellants.

ADDITIONAL PANELISTS FOR MONDAY’S IRAN SANCTIONS DISCUSSION

I am pleased to say that the panel will now be joined by Sam Evans, Deputy Head of sanctions at the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, and Qudsi Rasheed, External Relations Counsellor, UK Representation to the European Union.

The event will now be in the Great Hall, Lincoln’s Inn, so there is plenty of room for you and your colleagues to come, please do rsvp to renee.quarrie@brickcourt.co.uk.  The new details are:

Monday 27th July at 5.30pm in the Great Hall, Lincoln’s Inn, London WC2A 3TL. Speakers:

Lord Lamont of Lerwick, Chairman of the British Iranian Chamber of Commerce

Sam Evans, Deputy Head of sanctions at the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Maya Lester, Brick Court Chambers and co-author of this blog

Nigel Kushner, CEO of W Legal

Qudsi Rasheed, External Relations Counsellor, UK Representation to the European Union

Erich Ferrari, Ferrari & Associates, Washington DC

Fleur Cowan, First Secretary at the US Embassy in London

Chaired by David Anderson QC, Independent reviewer of terrorism legislation

NEW OFAC LISTINGS TARGETING HIZBALLAH

OFAC has added 3 people linked to Hizballah to its list of Specially Designated Nationals, against whom there is a US asset freeze and prohibition on doing business with them. It has also amended the listing of Mustafa Badr Al Din, originally listed as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist, to reflect his support for the Syrian regime under Bashar Al Assad.

The 3 newly listed people are:

  1. Ibrahim Aqil
  2. Fu’ad Shukr
  3. Abd Al Nur Shalan

Aqil and Shukr both serve on Hizballah’s highest military body, the Jihad Council, and have played vital roles in Hizballah’s military campaign in Syria, providing support for pro-regime troops. Shalan is a businessman said to have close ties to Hizballah’s leadership, and has been critical in keeping the group supplied with weapons since the start of the Syrian conflict as its point person for the procurement and transhipment of weapons for it and its Syrian partners for at least 15 years. In 2014, he is said to have used his business to hide weapons-related material in Syria for Hizballah.

The US Treasury’s press release is here.

UN SC ADOPTS RESOLUTION ENDORSING IRAN NUCLEAR DEAL

The United Nations Security Council has endorsed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreed between the E3/EU+3 and Iran on 14 July (see previous blog) by unanimously adopting Resolution 2231. The Security Council’s press release states that the resolution sets out a “rigorous” monitoring mechanism and timetable for implementation of the deal, while opening the way for UN sanctions on Iran to be lifted. On receipt of a report from the IAEA verifying Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA, the Security Council will terminate all of the sanctions set out in resolutions adopted between 2006 and 2015, and after 10 years of compliance it will remove the Iranian nuclear issue from its agenda. The resolution also outlines the process for reinstating sanctions in the event of non-compliance (the so-called “snap back”).

The Council of the European Union has endorsed the JCPOA and UN Resolution 2231, committing to abide by the deal’s terms and follow the agreed implementation plan and timeline for lifting sanctions. In its statement, the Council noted that sanctions relief agreed under the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) in November 2013 has been extended for a further 6 months to cover the period up until the IAEA has verified that Iran has met its commitments. It also requested that the High Representative of the EU continue to play a coordinating role during implementation of the JCPOA, and called upon all countries to support the IAEA, including financially, in its role of verifying Iran’s compliance with the deal.

US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power hailed “the unity of the Council in the process leading to the agreement”, but stated that the United States would be maintaining many of its own sanctions (including a general trade embargo) in view of Iran’s “support for terrorism, destabilising activities in the region, and human rights violations”, and highlighted the “snap-back” mechanism that triggers the reinstatement of sanctions if Iran does not comply with the JCPOA.