The Court of Justice has dismissed Tarif Akhras’ appeal against the General Court’s decision not to annul his EU Syria sanctions designation. The judgment is here; Case C-193/15 Akhras v Council .
Mr Akhras was listed on the EU’s sanctions against Syria (which are on the ‘sanctions in force’ section of this site) in September 2011, and re-listed in 2012 and 2013, for being a person that benefits from / supports the Syrian regime. The General Court upheld his challenge to his 2012 listing, on the grounds that being the founder of the Akhras group was insufficient to show that he “provides economic support for the regime” (the reason given at that time for including him). However, the ECJ has now held (in line with the judgment below; see previous blog) that his subsequent designation was justified, because the Council was entitled to rely on a presumption (that the Court considered he had not rebutted) that prominent businessmen in Syria benefit from or support the regime. The judgment discusses the use of Anbouba presumptions (on which see previous blog). Rejecting Mr Akhras’ arguments that the General Court had not properly assessed the evidence, the ECJ held that “the position of Mr Akhras in Syrian economic life and the important offices held by him, currently or in the past, within the Homs Chamber of Commerce and the Board of the Federation of Syrian Chambers, constituted a set of indicia sufficiently specific, precise and consistent to establish that Mr Akhras was providing economic support to the Syrian regime or benefiting from it”.