Switzerland implements additional EU and UN Iran de-listings

Switzerland has followed the EU, US, and UN in de-listing Bank Sepah from its sanctions against Iran (see previous blog), along with Naser Bateni and the company he manages Hanseatic Shipping Trust, whose EU listings were annulled in October 2015 (see previous blog), and 3 entities connected to Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, also reflecting UN and EU modifications to their own sanctions.

The Swiss Government’s notice is here.

EU renews Tunisia asset freezes

The EU Council has extended its targeted asset freezes against Tunisia for one year, until 31 January 2017.  Currently, 48 people are subject to the asset freeze, having been deemed responsible for misappropriating Tunisian state funds or to be associated with those who have.

The extension is made by Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/111 implementing Council Regulation (EU) 101/2011 and Council Decision (CFSP) 2016/119 amending Council Decision 2011/72/CFSP.

EU court annuls 5 more Ukraine listings

The General Court of the EU has ruled in favour of 5 Ukrainians who brought applications to annul their listings under the EU’s anti-misappropriation sanctions on Ukraine.  Mykola Azarov and Sergej Arbuzov, successive Prime Ministers of Ukraine until February 2014, Mr Azarov’s son Oleksii Azarov, former Head of Administration of the President of Ukraine Sergiy Klyuyev, and former Minister for Energy and the Coal Industry of Ukraine Edward Stavytskyi were all listed on the basis that they were the subjects of preliminary investigations in Ukraine relating to the misappropriation and illegal transfer of Ukrainian State funds.

As in the case of Andriy Portnov, who successfully challenged his listing last year in the first judgment handed down on the Ukraine anti-misappropriation sanctions (see previous blog), the Court found that the sole basis for the applicants’ listings was a letter from March 2014 from the office of Ukraine’s Prosecutor General stating that investigations concerning them had made it possible to establish the misappropriation of large amounts of public funds.  The Court held that the letter provided no details of the matters specifically alleged against the 5 people or the nature of their responsibility, and so the designation criteria was not satisfied.  The usual costs order was made against the Council.

US further eases sanctions on Cuba

The US has again eased its sanctions against Cuba, removing certain payment and financing restrictions for the authorised export and reexport of items to Cuba and further facilitating travel to the country by lifting certain restrictions on Cuban airlines and authorising additional transactions incident to the temporary stay of aircraft and vessels.  OFAC has also authorised additional transactions and travel related to organising professional meetings, hosting sporting competitions, and transmitting professional media in Cuba.

The changes to restrictions on payments and financing, which lift a requirement to pay cash in advance or use financing from a third-country bank, do not ease those restrictions in relation to agricultural goods, given that these are imposed separately by the Trade Sanctions Reform and Export Enhancement Act 2000.

The full details of the changes are here, and OFAC’s updated FAQ on US sanctions against Cuba is here.

Makhlouf loses 2nd EU Syrian sanctions challenge

Mohammad Makhlouf has lost his second application to annul his listing under the EU’s sanctions on Syria, in Case T-443/13 Makhlouf v Council [2016] (see previous blog on first judgment). As before, the Court rejected Mr Makhlouf’s arguments and found that he meets the listing criterion of being a person associated with the Syrian regime, given that he is the uncle of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

2 sanctions events in London this week

The Anti-Money Laundering, Financial Crime, and Sanctions Forum

Tomorrow (27 January) at the Grange City Hotel, London, EC3N 2BQ, the Anti-Money Laundering, Financial Crime, and Sanctions Forum will discuss AML & Financial Crime: Risk & Enforcement, focusing on Sanctions Compliance: Managing Changes & Uncertainty. Michael O’Kane will chair, speakers include Maya Lester giving an update on EU sanctions. Details and registration here.

International Dispute Resolution Involving Russia and CIS Parties

On 28 and 29 January at The Kensington Close Hotel, London, W8 5SP, the 5th annual C5 conference on International Dispute Resolution includes sessions on Russia sanctions, moderated by Maya Lester, speakers include Michael O’Kane on Challenging Sanctions: Possible Mechanisms and Legal Remedies for Russian Parties. Details and registration here.

EU implements UN de-listing of Bank Sepah

The EU has delisted Iran’s Bank Sepah and Bank Sepah International Plc (its UK subsidiary) from EU sanctions against Iran, following a UN Security Council decision to de-list the Bank from the UN sanctions list on 17 January 2016.

This followed the Bank’s de-listing request to the UN, and is separate from the de-listings resulting from the JCPOA. Bank Sepah was listed by the UN for being involved in Iran’s ballistic missile programme, by providing support for Aerospace Industries Group and its subordinates.  The change is made by Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/74 implementing Council Regulation (EU) 267/2012 and Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2016/78 implementing Council Decision 2010/413/CFSP.

US guidance on JCPOA implementation, new general licence H etc.

Following the implementation of the JCPOA last Saturday (see previous blog), the US Treasury has published guidance on what the changes mean for US sanctions on Iran, in the form of a guidance note and FAQ.  These explain the US sanctions that have been lifted and those that remain in place, and the implications for US and non-US persons.  Some of the key points are as follows:

  1. The vast majority of US primary sanctions, including its general embargo on trade with Iran, remain in place following implementation of the JCPOA, which carves out a small number of exceptions. The US has introduced a case-by-case licensing policy for trade in commercial passenger aircraft and related parts, and has authorised the import of Iranian-origin carpets and foodstuffs into the US (see below).
  2. A substantial amount of US secondary sanctions (ie on non US persons) on Iran have been lifted, but non-US persons are still prohibited from knowingly seeking to evade continuing US restrictions on transactions and trade with Iran, including by entering into transactions with the more than 200 people and entities who are still listed as SDNs or with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or involving sectors, goods, or services that are still subject to secondary sanctions.
  3. The US has issued General License H, which authorises non-US entities that are owned or controlled by US persons to engage in a range of transactions involving Iran that were previously prohibited unless authorised by OFAC, provided they are consistent with the JCPOA. Accordingly, non-US entities are authorised to engage in transactions with the Government of Iran or Iranian persons that would otherwise be prohibited by the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (the US trade and transactions embargo on Iran), with certain exceptions. There are still prohibitions on the facilitation of transactions between non-US persons that would be prohibited were US persons directly involved (subject to exceptions).

The US Treasury has also published:

  1. A new licensing policy for activities relating to the export of commercial passenger aircraft, which allows for the authorisation, on a case-by-case basis, of trade in commercial passenger aircraft, related parts, and associated services.
  2. A new licence authorising the import of Iranian carpets and foodstuffs, including pistachios and caviar.
  3. A list of people & entities that have been de-listed from the USA’s Iran nuclear sanctions.

A list of the US Treasury’s guidance and other publications relating to the JCPOA is here.