EU information requirements for licensed trade with Iran

The EU has imposed additional requirements relating to the provision of information about end-use and end-use locations which must be met in order to obtain authorisation for the supply, sale, transfer, or use of certain nuclear-related goods to, from, or in Iran.  See Council Regulation (EU) 2017/964 amending Council Regulation (EU) 267/2012 and Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/974 amending Council Decision 2010/413/CFSP.

US appeals court overturns OFAC penalty on Epsilon Electronics

The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit has overturned a $4million OFAC penalty on US audio product supplier Epsilon Electronics, and remanded the case back to the lower court with instructions for OFAC to reconsider the penalty (see previous blog).  OFAC said that Epsilon knew or had reason to know that it shipped around $3.4m of car audio and video equipment to a company that re-exports most of its products to Iran, although it did not find any direct evidence that the shipments made their way there.

The DC District Court had granted OFAC’s motion for summary judgment.  The Court of Appeals found that while 34 of the 39 shipments concerned violated US sanctions on Iran, 5 of the shipments did not and therefore OFAC should reconsider the monetary penalty it imposed. In addition, it found that while OFAC did not need to show that the goods ended up in Iran, only that they left the US, OFAC had not adequately explained its determination that Epsilon had reason to know that the goods would end up in Iran and so its final decision on liability was capricious and arbitrary.

French inquiry into LafargeHolcim’s Syria activities

A judicial inquiry into LafargeHolcim, a Swiss-French cement company, has been opened in France on the basis of suspicions that it entered into transactions with sanctioned groups to keep one of its plants operating in Syria. Lafarge is alleged to have made payments, via intermediaries, to armed groups in return for its operations being left alone and for the release of kidnapped employees.

EU to renew Russia sanctions

EU President Donald Tusk announced yesterday that the EU has decided to renew its economic sanctions on Russia, imposed in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, for 6 months. They are currently due to expire on 1 August 2017.

These “phase 3” sanctions target Russia’s financial, energy, and defence sectors, restrict trade in dual-use goods and some Russian banks’ access to EU capital markets. The EU has said sanctions on Russia should continue until Russia complies with the Minsk agreements.

EU implements UN additions to its terrorism and CAR sanctions

The EU has added Fared Saal to its sanctions on ISIL & Al-Qaida, implementing a UN listing from earlier this month.  Fared Saal is said to be a member of ISIL, who has taken part in attacks that led to the deaths of large numbers of civilians. See Commission Implementing Regulation 2017/1094 amending Council Regulation 881/2002.

It has also implemented the UN’s listing of Hissene Abdoulaye on its sanctions against the Central African Republic (see previous blog).  He is said to have become one of the main leaders of armed militias in the country’s capital Bangui. See Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1090 implementing Council Regulation 224/2014 and Council Implementing Decision 2017/1103 implementing Council Decision 2013/798/CFSP.

EU renews Guinea-Bissau sanctions

The EU has published a notice (link here) stating that it has reviewed all of the people & entities listed on its Guinea-Bissau sanctions and decided that sanctions should continue to apply to them. These measures target people who played a leading role in the coup d’état of 12 April 2012, and those who aim to undermine the rule of law and curtail the primacy of civilian power.

Queen’s Speech announces UK International Sanctions Bill

Prime Minister Theresa May announced today that a new international sanctions bill will form part of the UK’s legislative programme “geared towards making a success of Brexit”, to allow the UK “to continue to comply with our international obligations”.

The Queen’s Speech (link here) included the International Sanctions Bill among the new Brexit-related draft legislation, which will “support our role as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a leading player on the world stage, by establishing a new sovereign UK framework to implement international sanctions on a multilateral or unilateral basis. The Bill will return decision-making powers on non-UN sanctions to the UK, and enable the UK’s continued compliance with international law after the UK’s exit from the EU. The UK Government has issued a consultation document about the content of this new sanctions bill (see previous blog).

New US Russia designations

The USA has added 38 people and entities to its sanctions on Russia linked to Russia’s activities in Ukraine, and identified 20 subsidiaries that are owned 50% or more by desiganated AK Transneft OAO.  Among the new designations are several officials of the “Republic of Crimea” and “Luhansk People’s Republic”, entities said to have been operating in Crimea, and a number of businesses owned or controlled by Yevgeniy Prigozhin, who has been linked to Russian mercenaries fighting in Syria and Russian “troll factories”.

In the US Treasury press release, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that the sanctions are designed to “maintain pressure on Russia to work towards a diplomatic solution” for the Ukraine crisis, and said that “there should be no sanctions relief until Russia meets its obligations under the Minsk agreements”. The new listings are here.