US REOPENS INVESTIGATIONS INTO STANDARD CHARTERED BANK

On 30 October 2014, it was widely reported that US authorities have decided to reopen their investigations into UK bank Standard Chartered. The new probe is to ascertain whether the bank hid transactions that were in breach of US Iranian sanctions at the time of their settlement with US authorities in 2012.

The bank was previously investigated for breaching US sanctions by hiding the identities of Iranian customers in hundreds of billions of dollars of transactions. It reached a settlement agreement with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) and the New York Department of Financial Services (DFS) in 2012 and subsequently paid $340m to the DFS and $300m to a number of regulators including the DOJ.

It is now alleged that Standard Charter did not reveal the full extent of its dealings with Iran during the 2012 settlement negotiations, which has prompted the DOJ, the DFS and the Manhattan District Attorney to reopen their investigations. It is reported that regulators investigating another bank found evidence of transactions with Iran that Standard Charter had not disclosed previously.

 

CANADA IMPOSES SANCTIONS ON TWO SOUTH SUDANESE REBEL LEADERS

Sanctions were imposed by the US and by the EU on South Sudanese military leaders involved in the country’s civil war in May 2014 and June 2014 respectively (as we previously reported on this blog). On 23 October 2014, Canada published details of its own sanctions against South Sudanese military leaders.

The sanctions entered into force with their publication and have been imposed because the Canadian government “is of the opinion that the situation in South Sudan constitutes a grave breach of international peace and security that has resulted or is likely to result in a serious international crisis”.

The two individuals now subject to Canadian sanctions are Marial Chanuong and Peter Gadet. Both are already subject to US sanctions and Gadet is also subject to EU sanctions. Deng is a commander of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), a group which took part in the recapture of the city of Bentiu in May 2014, and Gadet is the leader of the anti-government Nuer militia.

The Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said “The targeting of civilians based on ethnicity is deeply concerning, and the individuals who perpetrate such atrocities should be held to account. That is why Canada is announcing targeted sanctions against individuals who have been directly or indirectly facilitating and supporting the ongoing hostilities on both sides of the conflict”.

The new measures prohibit:

(1)   dealing in any property, wherever situated, held by or on behalf of a designated person;

(2)   entering into or facilitating, directly or indirectly, any transaction related to a dealing referred to in (1)

(3)   providing any financial or related service in respect of a dealing referred to in (1)

(4)   making any goods, wherever situated, available to a designated person; or

(5)   providing any financial or related service to or for the benefit of a designated person.

 

EU RENEWS MOLDOVA SANCTIONS

The European Union imposed restrictive measures against the leadership of the on region of the Republic of Moldova in September 2010, consisting of a travel ban on a list of people “responsible for the design and implementation of the campaign of intimidation and closure against Latin-script Moldovan schools in the Transnistria region of the Republic of Moldova”. These measures were amended in September 2012, and have just been extended for another year (until 31 October 2015) by Council Decision 2014/751/CFSP of 30 October 2014.

Links to all the current European sanctions (including those against Moldova) are on the ‘EU sanctions in force’ section of this blog.

AUSTRALIA LIFTS SANCTIONS ON FIJI

Australia is to lift all the sanctions that remain in force against Fiji, which have been in place since 2006, when Fiji experienced its 4th coup in 20 years, led by former army chief Voreqe “Frank” Bainimarama, who was sworn in as prime minister last month after winning the first elections in almost a decade.

Australia’s lifting of sanctions was announced in a joint statement today by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Australia and Fiji today saying:

“Today we are pleased to have met in Suva to reaffirm our mutual commitment to taking the bilateral relationship forward to a new era of partnership and prosperity.This is the first visit to Fiji by a Foreign Minister since the election and the first bilateral visit by an Australian Foreign Minister since 2008. It demonstrates our commitment to normalise our bilateral relations. We are laying the foundations for strong linkages in diverse spheres: government-government and parliamentary, defence and security, economic and trade, and people-to-people links.  We look forward to Fiji and Australia resuming a full defence and regional security relationship. We also agreed to discuss regional architecture to ensure it remains relevant to political, economic and social needs.”

EU RENEWS BELARUS SANCTIONS

Last year we reported here that the European Union had extended its Belarus sanctions until 31 October 2014.  The Council of the European Union has announced today that it will extend those measures for another year, until 31 October 2015. According to the press release, this is because “not all political prisoners have been released and rehabilitated, and the respect for human rights, the rule of law and democratic principles has not significantly improved in Belarus.”

The EU first imposed restrictive measures on President Lukashenko and some Belarusian officials in May 2006, by Regulation 765/2006. The sanctions were extended in 2012 and 2013, and consist of an arms embargo, an embargo on equipment for internal repression, and a travel ban and asset freeze on individuals and entities said to be responsible for serious human rights violations, whose activities seriously undermine democracy or the rule of law in Belarus, or who benefit from or support the Lukashenka regime.

The new Decision and Regulation de-list 24 people and 7 entities because the EU considers there are no longer grounds for keeping them on the sanctions list.  The press release states that this “does not reflect any change in the EU’s policy towards Belarus … the EU maintains its policy of critical engagement with Belarus, intended to promote the respect for human rights, the rule of law and democratic principles in Belarus.” A notice for people and entities that remain listed is here.

EU LIFTS SANCTIONS ON SLOBODAN MILOSEVIC, 8 YEARS AFTER HIS DEATH

The European Union has just lifted sanctions on Mr Milosevic (former President of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY)).

In 2000 the EU lifted sanctions on the FRY, with the exception of the provisions directed against Mr Milosevic and persons associated with him, on the basis that they continued to “represent a threat to the consolidation of democracy in the FRY”.  Accordingly, Council Regulation (EC) No 2488/2000 froze funds and other financial resources held outside the FRY belonging to Mr Milosevic and to “natural persons associated with him”.

The European Union has just published Decision 2014/742/CFSP and Regulation 1145/2014 (both of 28 October 2014), which repeal those measures on the basis that “there are no grounds to continue applying those restrictive measures” because Mr Milosevic and associates “no longer represent a threat to the consolidation of democracy”.  Mr Milosevic died in March 2006, 8 years ago.

HM Treasury’s notice, which lists the people to whom these measures no longer apply (published on 29 October 2014) is here.

EU IMPLEMENTS UN AMENDMENTS TO LIBYA SANCTIONS

The United Nations has imposed sanctions on Libya since 2011, and the European Union has implemented those measures, consisting of an arms embargo, a ban on internal repression equipment, and targeted asset freezes and travel bans on “certain persons and entities involved in serious human rights abuses against persons in Libya”.  Some of those people and entities are designated by the UN, and the EU makes its own additions.

The EU last week (21 October 2014) amended its Libya sanctions measures to reflect amendments made by the UN Security Council, by means of Council Decision 2014/727/CFSP, Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1103/2014 and Council Regulation (EU) No 1102/2014.  The new measures:

1) Implement in the EU the amendments to the scope of the arms embargo that were made by the UN Security Council on 27 August  2014 (on which see previous blog); and

2) Amend the identifying information relating to 2 people (Mr Dorda and Coloniel Al-Senussi) whose entries were updated by the UN.  A Notice in the Official Journal informs them of the possibility of challenging these measures in the General Court of the EU or submitting a request to the United Nations Focal Point or Council of the EU for reconsideration. HM Treasury’s Notice on the amendments  relating to these people is here.

All EU sanctions measures relating to Libya are on the ‘sanctions in force’ section of this blog.

UN SECURITY COUNCIL DEBATES SANCTIONS, DUE PROCESS & THE OMBUDSPERSON

The United Nations Security Council  held an open debate on the working methods of the Security Council on 23 October 2014.  The issues for debate are set out here in a background letter from the Permanent Representative of Argentina to the UN, addressed to Secretary General.

The Ombudsperson to the UN’s 1267 Sanctions Committee, Kimberly Prost, was invited to brief the Security Council on the counter-terrorist sanctions regime under her mandate and due process, and to make recommendations for enhancing the effectiveness of the regime.  See previous post on the Ombudsperson.  A link to Kimberly Prost’s presentation to the Security Council is here.  She made (in summary) the following points:

1. The Ombudsperson’s remit applies only to one UN sanctions regime, namely the Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee list. There is no rationale for this mechanism being available for one set of individuals facing targeted sanctions but not others. The imposition of targeted sanctions which directly affect the rights of individuals and entities, without the availability of an independent review mechanism which can deliver an effective remedy, is inconsistent with fundamental human rights obligations.  The Focal Point at the UN does not have the characteristics of an independent review mechanism which could serve as an effective remedy.  The introduction of a fair process mechanism at international level will also reduce the number of domestic and regional court challenges, because it will weaken arguments about fundamental unfairness in the system.

2. As regards the Al Qaida terrorist sanctions regime, the Ombudsperson recommended that reasons should be given for decisions as to whether to de-list or not, since a reasoned decision is what distinguishes a fair process from an arbitrary one.  She noted the current reluctance to provide factual detail in the reasons, which would enhance the credibility and strength of regime.

3. There should be institutional safeguards in order to secure the Office of the Ombudsperson and its independence, which presently exist only because of the good will of those within that office and the secretariat.

The informal group of “Like-Minded States” on targeted sanctions (Austria, Belgium, Costa Rica, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Lichtenstein, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and Norway) also made a statement, saying that considerable due process concerns persist, and re-inviting the Security Council and Member States to consider the proposals it had submitted on 17 April 2014.

Those proposals were (in summary): (a) to make the office of Ombudsperson permanent; (b) enhanced information sharing between Member States and the Ombudsperson, and between the Sanctions Committee, Member States, national and regional courts, and other authorities; (c) to enhance transparency and publish reasons for decisions, including for continued designations (allowing for legitimate privacy, security and confidentiality interests to be protected); (d) for the Sanctions Committee to continue to conduct triennial reviews in a timely and thorough manner and regularly inform Member States of the results; (e) for listings to be automatically deleted if not reviewed and confirmed within 3 years; (f) to give the Ombudsperson authority to decide whether to maintain or discontinue a listing, and ask Member States and international bodies to encourage individuals or entities that seek de-listing to go to the Ombudsperson first before going to court; (g) to extend the Ombudsperson’s remit to other regimes; (h) to ensure that a listed entity or individual is adequately informed about the basis for a listing, including a narrative summary of reasons; and (i) to ensure that no decision to maintain or discontinue a listing is pending for longer than 6 months.