EU updates Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen & Terrorism sanctions

Syria

The EU has de-listed Hisham Ikhtiyar and Anisa Al-Assad from its sanctions on Syria, and deleted a duplicate entry for Major General Fahd (aka. Lt General Fahid).  See Regulation 2016/1735 implementing Regulation 36/2012 and Decision 2016/1746 implementing Decision 2013/255/CFSP.

Afghanistan

The EU has amended the list of people and entities under its sanctions on Afghanistan, in accordance with UN updates to its sanctions list on 21 July and 7 September.  See Regulation 2016/1736 implementing Regulation 753/2011 and Decision 2016/1748 implementing Decision 2011/486/CFSP.

Yemen

The EU has updated the identifying information for Abd Al-Houthi and Abdulmalik al-Houthi under its sanctions on Yemen.  The action implements UN updates made on 26 August 2016.  See Regulation 2016/1737 implementing Regulation 1352/2014 and Decision 2016/1747 implementing Decision 2014/932/CFSP.

Terrorism

The EU has de-listed Muhammad Abu-Al-Khayr and Hassan Abu Bakr Qayed from its sanctions on ISIL and Al-Qaida.  The de-listings implement a UN decision to remove the 2 people from its sanctions on 24 September 2016.  See Commission Implementing Regulation 2016/1739 amending Council Regulation 881/2002.

General Court rejects Iranian bank’s annulment application

The General Court of the EU has dismissed an application by Tose’e Ta’avon Bank (TTB) to annul its listing on the EU’s anti-nuclear proliferation sanctions on Iran. Case T-435/14 Tose’e Ta’avon Bank v Council [2016].  The case relates to a listing before the JCPOA lifted the EU’s sanctions on Iran.

As the Court of Justice has ruled in the past (see previous blog), the Court rejected the argument that it was unlawful to base a listing on Article 291(2) TFEU, which gives the Council the power to implement sanctions unilaterally, and that TTB’s listing should have been based on Article 215(2) TFEU, which requires a joint proposal from the EU’s High Representative and the Commission.  The Court said the Council was entitled to conclude that TTB provides support to the Government of Iran because it is a state company that provided financial resources to the Government in amounts that were “quantitatively significant”. On the basis of previous case law, there was no need to show that the financial support was directly related to Iran’s nuclear programme.

The Court rejected the applicant’s argument that the Council had made an error of assessment, because the Court said an assessment of financial support must be based on circumstances at the time of listing, irrespective of whether it had previously or since received back the funds it had transferred to the government.  The Court rejected the arguments that the listing infringed the principle of proportionality or rights of defence.

US listings – DRC & terrorist SDNs

 

OFAC has designated 2 people on its Democratic Republic of the Congo sanctions, for their alleged role in undermining democracy and repressing political rights and freedoms in the DRC.

Major General Gabriel Amisi Kumba is a Commander in the DRC’s armed forces, whose units are said to have engaged in the violent repression of political demonstrations, including through the use of lethal weapons.  General John Numbi is the former National Inspector for DRC’s police force, and is said to have used violent intimidation to secure victories for candidates affiliated with President Kabila’s coalition in March 2016’s gubernatorial elections.  Numbi reportedly threatened to kill opposition candidates, attempted to fix ballots, and remains an influential advisor to the President.

The State Department has also designated Anas el-Abboubi, an Italian rapper, as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.  Mr El-Abboubi is said to have fled to Syria to join ISIL, after having been released from police custody for plotting a terror attack in Italy and recruiting individuals for military activity abroad.

EU renews Burundi sanctions

The EU has decided to renew its sanctions relating to Burundi until 31 October 2017.  The sanctions impose asset freezes and travel bans on four people whose activities were said to be undermining democracy or the search for a political solution to the crisis in the Burundi, following President Nkurunziza’s disputed re-election (see previous blog).

In its press release, the EU Council stated that the absence of progress in the situation concerning the 4 sanctioned people justified the renewal of the sanctions.  See Decision 2016/1745 amending Decision 2015/1763.

EU suspends sanctions on FARC

The EU has suspended its sanctions on the Colombian rebel group FARC, following the signing of the Colombia peace agreement between FARC and the Colombian government on 26 September 2016.  FARC has been listed on the EU’s counter-terrorist sanctions list since June 2002.

See Regulation 2016/1710 amending Regulation 2580/2001 and Decision 2016/1711 amending Common Position 2001/931/CFSP.

OFAC designates Chinese firm for WMD proliferation

OFAC has designated Dandong Hongxiang Industrial Development Company (DHID), a Chinese firm, and 4 of its senior employees under its WMD-proliferation sanctions for allegedly providing support to designated North Korean firm KKBC.  DHID is said to have used a network of front companies, financial facilitators, and trade representatives to facilitate transactions on behalf of KKBC, which was designated for supporting entities allegedly involved in North Korea’s WMD and missile programmes.

In the US Treasury’s press release, Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Adam Szubin said that “DHID and its employees sought to evade US and UN sanctions, facilitating access to the US financial system by a designated entity”.  Alongside OFAC’s designations, the Department of Justice has unsealed criminal charges against DHID and the 4 designated employees, and issued civil forfeiture action for all funds in the 25 bank accounts owned by DHID.

OFAC designates PacNet Group as a TCO

OFAC has designated PacNet Group, an international payments processor and money services business based in Canada, as a Transnational Criminal Organisation (TCO) for its alleged history of money laundering on behalf of mail fraud schemes.  It has also designated 12 individuals and 24 entities, across 18 countries, for providing support to PacNet or being owned or controlled by those that do.  PacNet is the 7th TCO to be listed by OFAC, alongside the Japanese Yakuza crime syndicates, Mexican cartel Los Zetas, and Italian criminal organisation the Camorra.

In the US Treasury’s press release, OFAC’s Acting Director John Smith said that “PacNet has knowingly facilitated the fraudulent activities of its customers for many years” and the “large-scale, illicit money flows that are generated by these scams against vulnerable individuals”.  OFAC closely coordinated the designations with the Department of Justice, which will also be announcing criminal actions and filing civil injunctions in relation to PacNet’s activities.

EU Court dismisses Libya case – T-485/15 Alsharghawi

The General Court of the EU has dismissed Bashir Alsharghawi’s application for his listing on the EU’s Libya sanctions to be annulled, where he was included for being “closely associated with the former regime of Muammar Qadhafi”.  See Case T-485/15 Alsharghawi v Council (20 September 2016).

The Court said Mr Alsharghawi had not submitted any evidence capable of calling into question the facts presented by the Council, and did not challenge the Council’s assessment of the situation in Libya or its allegation that he was closely associated with the former regime of Muammar Qadhafi.  It also dismissed the applicant’s arguments that the Council lacked competence to list him, breached its obligation to state reasons, infringed his rights of defence and the presumption of innocence, and infringed his rights to property and freedom.