US lifts ban on ZTE after payment of $1.4billion settlement

ZTE2Last week (13 July 2018), the US Department of Commerce announced that Chinese telecoms company ZTE (Zhongxing Telecommunications Equipment Corporation and ZTE Kangxun Telecommunications Ltd) had placed $400 million in escrow at a US bank and, as a result, the Department had lifted the 7-year denial order on ZTE pursuant to the $1.4 billion settlement agreement approved last month (see our previous blog for the full details of that new agreement).

US rejects EU’s request for Iran sanctions exemptions

US Flag.jpgUS Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have written a letter rejecting the EU’s request for exemptions to the US Iran sanctions that will be re-imposed in August and November 2018 after the US decision to withdraw from the JCPOA. The letter states that the “[US] will seek to provide unprecedented financial pressure on the Iranian regime”.

The EU had requested exemptions in a joint letter signed by the E3 last month (summarised in our previous blog). They sought carve-puts for finance, energy and healthcare. The US letter states that the US will only allow carve-outs if necessary for US national security or humanitarian purposes.

EU adds Algerian national to ISIL & A-Q sanctions list

Terrorist.jpgThe EU has added Algerian national Rabah Tahari to its ISIL (Da’esh) and Al-Qaeda sanctions list (asset freeze imposed). See Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/1000, Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/999, and UK OFSI Notice.

This is the second person to be designated under these sanctions. French national Fabien Clain was the first to be designated in February 2018 (previous blog).

EU adopts targeted sanctions framework against Maldives

EU1Today, the EU announced that it has adopted a framework to impose targeted sanctions (travel ban and asset freeze) against those responsible for “undermining the rule of law or obstructing an inclusive political solution in the Maldives”, as well as those responsible for “serious human rights violations”.

This decision is a direct follow up to the EU conclusions (26 February 2018) adopted in respect of the situation in the Maldives (previous blog).

EU implements UN de-listing of Iraq’s State Organisation of Grain

EU4Earlier this week, the UN Security Council removed the ‘General Establishment for Grain Trading’ from its Iraq sanctions list (previous blog).

Yesterday, the EU implemented this UN delisting by adopting Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/979. As a result, the body will no longer be subject to EU asset freezing measures. UK OFSI Notice here.

EU Court annuls 2017 re-listing of Andriy Klyuyev under Ukraine misappropriation sanctions

CJEU1We reported in September 2016 that the EU General Court had annulled the 2014 designation of Andriy Klyuyev (former Head of Administration of the President of Ukraine) under the EU’s sanctions relating to the misappropriation of Ukrainian state funds. However, the Court upheld his 2015 listing, as subsequently amended by the EU Council (see previous blog).

This week (11 July 2018), the same Court decided to uphold Mr Klyuyev’s 2016 listing but annulled his 2017 re-listing, see judgment: Klyuyev v Council T-240/16. The Court held that the information relied upon by the Council in maintaining Mr Klyuyev’s 2017 listing, as set out in letters from Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, had been “incomplete and tainted with inconsistencies”. Accordingly, when considered alongside the exculpatory evidence presented by Mr Klyuyev, the Council ought to have investigated further and sought clarification from the Ukrainian authorities. The Court held that the Council had therefore committed a manifest error of assessment in having considered that it was not required to take into account the evidence produced by Mr Klyuyev or to make further enquiries of the Ukrainian authorities.

In March 2018, Mr Klyuyev was re-listed until 6 March 2019 under Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/333. That 2018 re-listing, however, was not addressed in the present judgment. As a result, Mr Klyuyev continues to remain on the EU sanctions list (subject to an asset freeze).

US sanctions Iran-backed terrorist group al-Ashtar Brigades

US Department of StateToday, the US Department of State has designated al-Ashtar Brigades, “an Iran-backed terrorist group in Bahrain”, as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO), pursuant to section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT), pursuant to section 1(b) of Executive Order 13224. As a result, the group will now be subject to US asset freezing measures. See OFAC Notice and State Department Press Release.

In March 2017, the State Department designated two al-Ashtar Brigades-affiliated individuals as SDGTs (see here).