OFAC adds 3 to N Korea sanctions for alleged human rights abuses

US Treasury Building2OFAC has sanctioned 3 individuals, pursuant to Executive Order 13687 (asset freeze and travel ban), in response to the “North Korean regime’s ongoing and serious human rights abuses and censorship”. The individuals are: Choe Ryong Hae (Director of the Workers’ Party of Korea Organisation and Guidance Department), Jong Kyong Thaek (Minister of State Security), and Pak Kwang Ho (Director of the Propaganda and Agitation Department). See OFAC Notice and US Treasury Press Release.

EU extends DRC sanctions for 1 year

DRC1The EU has extended its Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) sanctions for 1 year until 12 December 2019. The measures comprise an arms embargo, as well as a targeted asset freeze and travel ban on 14 individuals “engaging in or providing support for acts that undermine the peace, stability or security of the DRC”. See Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/1940, Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/1931, and EU Press Release.

US-designated man pleads guilty to evading sanctions via money laundering

US DoJLebanese businessman Kassim Tajideen, who was designated in 2009 as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) under Executive Order 13224 (asset freeze) for being an “important financial contributor to Hizballah”, has pleaded guilty in the DC District Court to conspiracy to launder money to evade the US sanctions imposed on him. The US Department of Justice Press Release states that Mr Tajideen, after his sanctions designation, had “conspired with at least five other persons to conduct over $50 million in transactions with U.S. businesses that violated [sanctions against him]. In addition, [Mr] Tajideen and his co-conspirators knowingly engaged in transactions outside of the [US], which involved transmissions of as much as $1 billion through the [US] financial system from places outside the [US].” Sentencing is scheduled for 18 January 2019.

EU Court upholds EU re-listings where no factual change – NITC and Tejarat

CJEU1The Court of Justice has dismissed two appeals, both challenges to the EU Council’s practice of re-listing entities that had won their annulment challenges, without there being any change in factual circumstances.

NITC

In July 2014, the EU General Court annulled the initial EU Iran sanctions listing of the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) because the EU’s claim that NITC provided financial support to the Iranian government was unsubstantiated (see previous blog).

In February 2015, NITC was re-listed on the same factual basis: (i) as before, NITC was listed for providing “financial support” to the Iranian government (now as a result of alleged links between its shareholders and the government); and (ii) now also for providing “logistical support” to the Iranian government through the transport of Iranian oil.

In September 2016, the General Court would not annul NITC’s re-listing because it said that although the EU had relied on the same facts, the new label of “logistical support” had meant that the issue want not res judicata (and did not breach the NITC’s legitimate expectations or the principles of legal certainty and effective remedies) because the Court had previously only considered “financial support” in relation to NITC (see previous blog). The Court of Justice has now dismissed NITC’s appeal against that judgment: C-600/16 P (29 November 2018).  It rejected arguments that the Council’s re-labelled listing criterion could have been relied on before and that nothing had changed to justify the re-listing. Maya Lester QC acts for the NITC.

Tejarat

In January 2015, the EU General Court annulled Bank Tejarat’s initial designation because it could not establish that the bank had provided support for nuclear proliferation or assisted others in the breach/avoidance of sanctions (see previous blog). In April 2015, Bank Tejarat was re-listed for providing “significant support to the Government of Iran”, and for being “involved in the procurement of prohibited goods and technology”.

In March 2017, the General Court declined to annul Bank Tejarat’s re-listing because the Council had adequately shown that the bank had supported the Iranian government by offering financial resources and services for oil and gas development projects (see previous blog). The Court of Justice dismissed Bank Tejarat’s appeal against the re-listing: C-248/17 P (29 November 2018) for similar reasons as those given in the NITC case.

US accuses Huawei’s CFO of violating Iran sanctions

Huawei.jpgUS authorities have requested the extradition of Huawei’s Chief Financial Officer and daughter of the firm’s founder, Meng Wanzhou, who is currently being held on remand in Vancouver, Canada, over allegations that she utilised Skycom Tech Co Ltd, an “unofficial subsidiary” of Huawei, in order to violate US sanctions on Iran between 2009 and 2014. Her bail hearing before a Vancouver court is due to be determined today.

EU adds 9 to Russia sanctions list

EU5At today’s EU Foreign Affairs Council meeting, the EU adopted Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/1930 and Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/1929, which adds 9 people to its Russia sanctions list targeting “actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine” (asset freezes and travel bans). The individuals were listed for “their involvement in the socalled elections in the socalled Donetsk Peoples Republic and Luhansk Peoples Republic’”. According to the EU Press Release, the EU “considers these “elections” illegal and illegitimate and does not recognise them”.

The Council will also be discussing today whether new sanctions should be imposed on those involved in the recent escalation in the Sea of Azov of Russian forces against Ukrainian ships, and whether to adopt a new sanctions regime targeting gross violations of human rights globally, similar to the US Magnitsky Act. See Meeting Agenda.

OFAC further prolongs EN+, RUSAL & GAZ Group licences

OFAC3OFAC has issued 4 general licences related to EN+ Group, RUSAL, and GAZ Group, which further extend the expiration date of their previous versions from 7 January 2019 to 21 January 2019. See General Licences 13H, 14D, 15C, and 16D. See OFAC Notice and US Treasury Press Release.

Europe Minister explains UK sanctions regulations for no deal Brexit

Parliament1The Europe Minister Alan Duncan MP has written to the Chair of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Tugendhat MP, outlining what the Foreign & Commonwealth Office is doing to prepare for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit. They will:

1.      Begin laying statutory instruments (UK Regulations) to enable sanctions regimes to be implemented under the Sanctions Act, which will come into force on exit day.

2.      The plan is one SI per sanctions regime. They will prioritise “the most complex, high profile and changeable regimes” and have “de-prioritised” regimes where the UK can “rely on retained EU law [under the UK Withdrawal Act] until new regulations are made and the retained law is revoked”.

3.      Half of sanctions regulations will be subject to negative procedure, half the “made-affirmative” procedure.