EU EXTENDS SYRIA SANCTIONS REGIME FOR 1 YEAR, AMENDS A TRADE PROHIBITION, AND UPDATES LISTINGS

The EU has extended its sanctions regime against Syria for 1 year, until 1 June 2016.  It has also amended its prohibition on the import, export, and transfer of cultural property and provision of related services where reasonable suspicion exists that the property has been illegally removed from Syria on or after 9 May 2011.  It now encompasses property removed on or after 15 March 2011.

In addition, the EU has amended its Syrian sanctions listings.  It has added General Muhamad, deleted the entry for Rustum Ghazali, and updated the entries for 10 other people.  The measures also no longer list Mazen Al-Tabbaa and Bassam Sabbagh, following judgments in joined cases T-329/12 / T-74/13 and in case T-652 annulling their listings (see previous blogs here and here).  Under the sanctions, listed people and entities are subject to an EU-wide asset freeze and travel ban.

The changes are set out in Council Regulation (EU) 2015/827 amending Council Regulation (EU) 36/2012, Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/828 implementing Council Regulation (EU) 36/2012, and Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/837 amending Council Decision 2013/255/CFSP.

The EU has also published notices (found here and here) for the attention of listed people and entities, informing them that the sanctions regime has been extended.  HM Treasury’s notice is here.

GENERAL COURT REJECTS 3 SYRIAN INTERIM MEASURES APPLICATIONS

The General Court of the EU has rejected as inadmissible 3 applications for interim measures (the EU equivalent of an interlocutory injunction) to suspend (pending final judgment of their applications for annulment) the applicants’ re-listing in the EU’s restrictive measures relating to Syria. The cases are T-153/15 Hamcho v Council, T-154/15 Jaber v Council, and T-155/15 Kaddour v Council.

In November 2014, the General Court annulled the inclusion of those applicants in previous EU measures against Syria (see previous blog). In January the Council re-listed them, the applicants applied to annul their listings in March, and in that context applied for interim measures.

The EU test for granting interim measures includes whether the applicant has demonstrated that the measures are necessary to prevent “serious and irreparable harm” being caused to them. This test has never been fulfilled in a sanctions case. In these 3 cases, the Court found that the applicants had failed to provide accurate and comprehensive evidence of their situation, and so it was unable to appreciate from the applications whether the applicants were at risk of harm and, if so, whether or not the harm could be called serious and irreparable. On that basis, the Court rejected all of the applications and reserved costs.

EU UPDATES LIBYA SANCTIONS DESIGNATION CRITERIA AND AMENDS ENTRIES FOR 5 PEOPLE

The EU has updated the designation criteria for people and entities under its Libya sanctions regime in accordance with changes made by the UN Security Council to its own sanctions in March by Resolution 2213.  Under the sanctions, listed people and entities are subject to an EU-wide asset freeze and travel ban.

The designation criteria now also include persons:

  1. involved in the repressive policies of the former Qadhafi regime in Libya, or otherwise formerly associated with the regime and posing a continued risk to the peace, stability, and security of Libya or the completion of its political transition;
  2. threatening or coercing Libyan State financial institutions and the Libyan National Oil Company, or engaging in any action that may lead to the misappropriation of Libyan State funds; or
  3. who own or control Libyan state funds misappropriated during the former Qadhafi regime in Libya, which could be used to threaten the peace, stability, or security of the country or the completion of its political transition.

In addition, Libyan Investment Authority and Libyan Africa Investment Portfolio are now listed in Annex VI, and Article 5(4), where they were specifically targeted for asset freezes, now refers to all entities listed in Annex VI.

The EU has also moved Abdelhafiz Zlitni from Annex III to Annex II, and amended his name from “Abdelhaziz”, amended Abdulqader Al-Baghdadi’s listing to state that he is dead, amended Saadi Qadhafi’s listing to state that he is in custody in Libya, and given new aliases for Quren Al-Qadhafi (Akrin Saleh Akrin), whose address is now recorded as Egypt, and Safia Al-Barassi (Safia Al-Hadad).

The updates to the designation criteria are set out in Council Regulation (EU) 2015/813 amending Council Regulation (EU) 204/2011 and Council Decision (CFSP) 2015/818 amending Council Decision 2011/137/CFSP.  The listing amendments are made by Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/814 implementing Council Regulation (EU) 204/2011.  HM Treasury’s notices are here and here.

RUSSIA INTRODUCES LEGISLATION ALLOWING FOR THE CLOSURE OF “UNDESIRABLE” FOREIGN NGOs

Russia has introduced legislation authorising the country’s Prosecutor General and his deputies, in consultation with the Foreign Ministry, to designate foreign non-governmental organisations as “undesirable” if they are deemed to pose a threat to the constitutional order of the Russian Federation or to its defence and security.  The law also targets Russian citizens or groups that have any involvement with designated foreign NGOs, although it does not specify what activities “involvement” encompasses.

Under the Act, civil and criminal penalties can be imposed on a designated organisation if it continues to operate in Russia, and people working for the organisation may be sentenced to up to 6 years in prison.

Russian MP Alexander Taransky, who co-authored the legislation, has stated that it is chiefly targeted at commercial organisations in retaliation for sanctions imposed by Western countries on Russian businesses.

US TREASURY ISSUES GENERAL LICENSE AUTHORISING EXPORT OF INTERNET SERVICES & SOFTWARE TO CRIMEA; US BUREAU OF INDUSTRY AND SECURITY PUBLISHES RUSSIA DUE DILIGENCE GUIDANCE

OFAC has published Ukraine-related General License No. 9, authorising the exportation or re-exportation from the US or by US persons to Crimea of services and certain software connected with the exchange of personal communications over the internet, web browsing, and social media.  The General Licence is a derogation from a US prohibition on trade with the Crimea region in Executive Order 13685 (2014).

The General Licence does not apply to:

  1. any individual or entity listed as a Specially Designated National, or whose property and interests in property are otherwise blocked;
  2. commercial-grade internet connectivity services or telecommunications facilities;
  3. commercial web-hosting or domain name registration services; or
  4. any goods or technology not necessary to enable the services set out above.

Specific licences can be issued on a case-by-case basis for services and software incident to the exchange of personal communications over the internet, which are not covered in the General Licence.  The US Treasury’s new FAQ on the General Licence is here.

Russia Due Diligence Guidance

Guidance from the US Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) on due diligence practices has been released to assist companies in preventing unauthorized exports to Russia.  The guidance reiterates Export Administration Regulations Part 732’s requirements on red flags, stating that while exporters can generally rely on the end-use representations of the customer, they have an “affirmative duty” to enquire about end use, end user, and ultimate destination where the customer is “a person who is clearly not going to be using the item for its intended end use”.

The guidance also sets out a checklist of due diligence factors to consider when enquiring into the ultimate destination of an item:

  1. Consider email address and telephone number country codes, in addition to languages used in communications from customers or on a customer’s website
  2. Research the intermediate and ultimate consignees and purchaser, as well as their addresses, using business registers, company profiles, websites, and other resources
  3. Be aware of the countries a freight forwarder advertises that it serves and the industry sectors a distributor or other non-end user customer supplies
  4. Determine whether a license is required based on the probable country of ultimate destination, end use, and end user.  Consider the Country Chart, end use and end user controls, and embargoes and special controls.

OFAC ADDS 6 PEOPLE, 3 ENTITIES, AND 9 AIRCRAFT TO SDN LIST

OFAC has updated its list of Specially Designated Nationals jointly under its Counter Terrorism and Iranian Financial Sanctions regimes to add 1 person, 2 companies, and 9 aircraft as Specially Designated Global Terrorists, and under its Counter Narcotics regime to add 5 people and 2 entities as Specially Designated Narcotics Trafficking Kingpins. Details of the new listings are here.

The joint Counter Terrorism and Iran designations are made pursuant to Executive Order 13224, and the Counter Narcotics designations are made pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act.

Counter Terrorism (SDGT) & Iranian Financial Sanctions (IFSR)

  1. Issam Shammout
  1. Al-Naser Airlines
  2. Sky Blue Bird Aviation
  • 9 aircraft linked to Mahan Air

In its press release, the US Treasury stated that the designations follow a government-wide effort to target procurement of aircraft and aircraft parts for designated Iranian airline Mahan Air by the people listed, and are part of US efforts to counter Iranian sanctions evasion and target support to designated terrorist entities.  In early May 2015, Al-Naser is said to have transferred at least 8 Airbus A340s and 1 Airbus 320 to Mahan Air.

The 9 aircraft, linked to Mahan Air, are listed in order to make it easier for parties to keep track of Mahan Air’s blocked property and more difficult to evade the sanctions against it.  Mahan Air was listed in 2011, pursuant to Executive Order 13224, for providing support to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps – Qods Force, another entity listed as a SDGT.

Counter Narcotics (SDNTK)

  1. Myriam Beattie de Briones
  2. Abel Briones Ruiz
  3. Claudia Briones Ruiz
  4. Rogelio Nieto Gonzalez
  5. Magdalena Ruiz de Briones
  1. Combustibles Briones

The US Treasury press release states that Abel Briones Ruiz, using his network of transporters, “has distributed significant quantities of cocaine through the Southwest border for sale in the United States”. Acting Director of OFAC John Smith said that the designations allow the US to “financially isolate this long-time cocaine trafficker and those supporting his operations”.

EU COURT ANNULS TERNAVSKY’S 1st BELARUS SANCTIONS LISTING AND UPHOLDS 2nd

The General Court of the EU has annulled the original inclusion of Anatoly Ternavsky in the EU’s sanctions regime against Belarus, but dismissed his application to annul the more recent measures based on amended reasons; Case T-163/12 Ternavsky v Council 1.

The Court annulled his original listing because the Council could not show that he had close ties to President Lukashenka’s family by previous employment of his daughter, or that his involvement in the oil and petroleum sectors via  Univest-M showed that he had the support of the regime.

However, the Court upheld the new statement of reasons set out in Council Implementing Decision 2014/24/CFSP, because of payments, although small, made by Univest-M to Belarus’ Ministry of the Interior, a Belarusian state broadcaster, and the union for the House of Representatives and National Assembly, Univest-M’s partnership of a sports club with which two of the President’s sons are involved, and Univest-M’s extensive involvement in real-estate in Belarus, which the Court held would not be possible without the regime’s blessing.

The Court ordered the Council to bear its own costs and half of those incurred by Mr Ternavsky, and Mr Ternavsky to pay the Council’s costs of the interlocutory proceedings and half of his own costs.

EU UPDATES 6 ENTRIES UNDER ITS SYRIA SANCTIONS REGIME AND CREATES ONE NEW LISTING

The EU has updated the entries for 4 people and 2 entities listed under its Syrian sanctions regime, and created separate entries for Tri-Ocean Energy and its subsidiary Tri-Ocean Trading, which were previously listed together. The sanctions target people and entities said to be involved in the repression and violations of human rights perpetrated by the Syrian regime, and listed persons are subject to an EU-wide travel ban and asset freeze. The amended entries are:

  1. Amr Armanazi
  2. Wael Abdulkarim
  3. Ahmad Barqawi
  4. Samir Hamsho
  1. Centre d’etudes et de recherches syrien (CERS)
  2. Tri-Ocean Trading
  3. Tri-Ocean Energy

The amendments are set out in Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/780 implementing Council Regulation (EU) 36/2012 and Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2015/784 implementing Council Decision 2013/255/CFSP. HM Treasury’s notice is here.