ECJ REJECTS ANBOUBA APPEAL

The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Justice has rejected Mr Anbouba’s Syrian sanctions appeals in C-605/13 P and C-630/13 P Issam Anbouba v Council (21 April 2015) and upheld the General Court’s judgment rejecting Mr Anbouba’s application to annul his EU sanctions listings in September 2013 (see previous blog here).

Mr Anbouba argued that the General Court should not have permitted the Council to apply a presumption that leading businessmen support the Syrian regime, and should have required the Council to provide evidence supporting his listing. The Court followed Advocate General Bot’s Opinion (see previous blog here) in holding that since Mr Anbouba had not disputed the fact that he was in a leading position in Syrian economic life (the presidency of a major agri-food business (SAPCO) & important functions in both Cham Holding and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Homs) that was sufficient to establish that he provided economic support for the Syrian regime.

EU EXTENDS ARMS EMBARGO AGAINST MYANMAR/BURMA

The EU has agreed to extend its sanctions regime against Myanmar/Burma until 30 April 2016.  The sanctions impose an arms embargo on the country, with exceptions made for non-lethal military equipment intended solely for humanitarian or protective use, equipment for use in clearing mines, and protective or non-lethal clothing and equipment for use by UN and EU personnel.

The sanctions are extended by Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/666 amending Council Decision 2013/184/CFSP.  A list of sanctions in force against Myanmar/Burma is in the ‘sanctions in force’ section of this blog.

US TREASURY UPDATES GLOBAL TERRORISM AND NARCOTICS SDN LISTINGS

The US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control has made several updates to its list of Specially Designated Nationals.  Listed people and entities have all of their assets within US jurisdiction frozen and US persons are generally prohibited from doing business with them.

The following three people have been added as Specially Designated Global Terrorists:

  1. Hussein Atris (Lebanese)
  2. Meliad Farah (Australian and Lebanese)
  3. Hassan el-Hajj Hassan (Canadian and Lebanese)

OFAC has also amended the Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficking Kingpin (SDNTK) designation of Luis Calle Quiros to add one linked entity and remove one linked entity, and made the same changes with different linked entities to the Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficker (SDNT) designation of Fernando Maldonado Escobar.

Lastly, OFAC has deleted the entries for 6 SDNTKs (5 individuals and 1 entity) and 9 SDNTs (6 individuals and 3 entities).  A full record of the updates is here.

EU COURT REJECTS ZIMBABWE SANCTIONS CLAIM

The General Court has rejected an annulment action brought by the Attorney General of Zimbabwe and 121 other people and companies targeted by the EU’s restrictive measures against Zimbabwe which impose asset freezes & travel bans on those designated (the operation of these measures is currently suspended), in Case T-190/12 Tomana & Ors v Council & Commission (22 April 2015).

The Court rejected the Council’s arguments that the action was inadmissible because the lawyers did not have proper instructions to act, but held that the measures had a proper legal basis and did not breach the EU’s duty to give reasons & respected rights of defence and proportionality.  The Court found that the regulation in question only empowered the Council to include members of the Government of Zimbabwe and their “associates” on the list, not people unconnected with the Government (the measures were enacted before Article 215 TFEU permitted the EU to include non-State actors). The Court considered that everyone fitted that description, because even those whose jobs were unconnected with the Government or who were not even alleged to hold a position connected with the Government fell within the Court’s definition of the term “associate” on the basis that they were alleged to have committed acts of election violence for which the Government should be held responsible.  Even conduct of that kind in the distant past would justify inclusion, according to the Court, because the Council was entitled to assume that those people were still associated with the Government in the absence of evidence to the contrary. Therefore, the measures had a proper legal basis given the reasons provided were sufficiently clear, and the Council / Commission had not committed a manifest error of assessment.

The Court declared inadmissible witness statements from a number of the applicants explaining that they had not been notified of the measures and refuting the allegations against them, the evidence for which had been disclosed for the first time with the Defence on the grounds that, in the Court’s view, they had not expressly challenged the veracity of the reasons in the application.

Michael O’Kane (Peters & Peters) & Maya Lester (Brick Court Chambers) acted for the applicants. All EU measures relating to Zimbabwe as on the ‘sanctions in force’ section of this blog, and previous news items on Zimbabwe can be found by clicking on the ‘Zimbabwe’ tag.

US LIFTS SANCTIONS AGAINST THE HEAD OF BURMA’S CHAMBER OF COMMERCE WIN AUNG

The US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has removed Win Aung and two of his businesses from its list of Specially Designated Nationals.  Mr Aung is head of Burma’s Chamber of Commerce and a prominent businessman in the country.  Listed people and entities have all of their assets within US jurisdiction frozen and US persons are generally prohibited from doing business with them.

The detail of why Mr Aung was designated under US sanctions has never been published, nor has a reason been given for his delisting.  He was the subject of a confidential 2007 US embassy cable that alleged he and his family were using “their close connections with the Burmese regime to amass great wealth” through construction projects.

In a written statement, US Treasury Spokesperson Marie Harf said that listed people and entities may seek delisting “by submitting verifiable information demonstrating that changed circumstances warrant their removal, including that they have taken positive steps and changed behaviour”, although removals are relatively rare.

EU UPDATES 3 AFRICA SANCTIONS REGIMES

The EU has published measures updating its sanctions regimes on the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, and Zimbabwe.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

The EU has extended the scope of its designation criteria for people and entities under its Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) sanctions regime to implement changes made by the UN Security Council in Resolution 2198 (2015).  The sanctions regime imposes travel restrictions and an EU-wide asset freeze.

The wording of the list of example acts which constitute engaging in or providing support for acts that undermine the peace, stability, or security of the DRC has been amended, and 3 further examples have been added:

  1. acting on behalf of or at the direction of a designated individual or entity, or entity under their ownership or control;
  2. planning, directing, sponsoring, or participating in attacks against MONUSCO peacekeepers or UN personnel;
  3. providing financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to, a designated individual or entity.

The updates are set out in Council Regulation (EU) 2015/613 amending Council Regulation (EC) 1183/2005 and repealing Council Regulation (EC) 889/2005 and Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/620 amending Council Decision 2010/788/CFSP.

The EU has also updated its DRC sanctions listings in accordance with UN updates published on 5 February 2015, making corrections and adding further information.  Amongst other things, the additions cite International Criminal Court cases concerning the listed people and give greater detail on activities and crimes which they are alleged to have perpetrated.  The updates are set out in Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/614 implementing Council Regulation (EC) 1183/2005 and Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/620 amending Council Decision 2010/788/CFSP.

Côte d’Ivoire

The EU has removed Pascal N’Guessan from its Côte d’Ivoire sanctions listings and updated the entries for the 6 people still listed under UN sanctions.  The changes implement updates made by the UN Security Council and are set out in Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/615 implementing Council Regulation (EC) 560/2005 and Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2015/621 implementing Council Decision 2010/656/CFSP.

In addition, following the General Court’s judgment in Gossio v Council T-406/13, which annulled the listing of Marcel Gossio, his entry has been removed. 

Zimbabwe

The names of 5 people who have died have been deleted from the EU’s Zimbabwe sanctions.  The deletions are made by Council Regulation (EU) 2015/612 amending Council Regulation (EC) 314/2004 and Council Decision 2015/277/CFSP amending Council Decision 2011/101/CFSP.

EU ADDS 2 PEOPLE TO Al-QAIDA SANCTIONS

The EU has added Ali Ouni Harzi and Tarak Ouni Harzi to its list of people subject to sanctions for connections with terrorism / Al-Qaida.  This is to implement a United Nations Security Council addition on 10 April 2015.  Listed individuals are subject to an EU-wide asset freeze.

The update is set out in Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/617 amending for the 230th time Council Regulation (EC) 881/2002.  HM Treasury’s notice explaining the changes is here.

MR AYADI WINS 2nd EU JUDGMENT– ANOTHER KADI II…

The background to this case is the same as the EU Kadi litigation (see previous blog). Chafiq Ayadi (a Tunisian national living in Ireland) was added to the UN Security Council’s Al Qaida sanctions list in 2001 (just after 9/11) at the same time as Mr Kadi (without any reasons). Like Mr Kadi, he brought an application to annul the EU implementation of that UN listing in 2002, which he lost before the Court of First Instance in 2006 (T‑253/02) then won on appeal to the ECJ (C-399/06 P and C-403/06 P). Both men then challenged their re-listing by the EU, which was based on the UN’s statement of reasons. Mr Kadi won Kadi II in the ECJ (see previous blog).  Mr Ayadi has just won Ayadi II in the General Court (link to judgment here), the case having been remitted to the General Court by the ECJ, which had decided in 2013 that he still had a right to continue the case even though he had been de-listed by the UN and EU in 2011 (see previous blog).

The General Court found all of Mr Ayadi’s arguments to be admissible, even though he had not expressly raised them before the ECJ remittal, because he had “adhered to the core substance” of his previous arguments.  Mr Ayadi won on the same grounds as Mr Kadi in Kadi II. The Commission had not discharged its duty to examine whether the reasons for his listing were well founded in light of his observations or to request disclosure of information that would have helped it discharge that duty, and, as in Kadi II, had only observed the rights of the defence “in the most formal and superficial sense”.  The Court held that although it was not legally bound by the factual findings about Mr Ayadi in Kadi II, it applied them by analogy in the absence of any other evidence, dismissed all other allegations against Mr Ayadi, and ordered the Commission to pay his costs (to refund the Court, since Mr Ayadi was legally aided).