Commons committee questions impact of Brexit on EU terrorist asset freezing

The House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee has retained under its scrutiny the EU’s decision last month to introduce new sanctions on ISIS & Al-Qaida.  The new sanctions allow the EU to impose travel bans and asset freezes on people it believes to be associated with ISIL or Al-Qaida, whereas previously it was only able to implement UN or EU member state listings (see previous blog).

The Committee stated that the EU’s decision introduced a new sanctions regime and was therefore politically important.  It has requested that within 10 working days the Minister for Europe and the Americas Sir Alan Duncan should provide it with an assessment of the difficulties that would be caused if Brexit were to lead to the UK “losing prior access to the list of persons, groups, undertakings and entities whose assets are to be frozen, by the EU, impeding the UK’s ability to take simultaneous action”, or led to the UK “becoming unable to request additions to the EU’s list based on its own investigations and intelligence”.  The committee’s report is here.

Several states join EU in renewing Russia sanctions

Montenegro, Albania, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Ukraine have aligned themselves with the EU’s decision (see previous blog) to renew until 15 March 2017 its Russia sanctions imposing asset freezes and travel bans against people and entities said to have been involved in undermining Ukraine’s territorial integrity or sovereignty.  As a result, they will ensure that their own national policies conform to the EU’s sanctions measures. The EU Council’s press release is here.

EU de-lists Bank Saderat and its UK Plc

The EU has de-listed Bank Saderat and its UK subsidiary Bank Saderat PLC from its sanctions on Iran, further to a decision that the Bank’s listing should apply only until 22 October 2016 (see previous blog).  Bank Saderat was not due to be de-listed under the JCPOA until transition day, 20 October 2023. The UK Treasury has published a notice here confirming that these entities are no longer subject to an asset freeze.

EU adds 10 people to its Syria sanctions

The EU Council has decided to add 10 people to its sanctions on Syria, for their involvement in violent repression against the civilian population or support for the Syrian regime.  The decision follows the Council’s announcement last week that it was aiming to impose further sanctions on the regime’s supporters (see previous blog).  The new additions include high-ranking military officials and senior figures linked to the regime, and bring the total number of people and entities listed on the sanctions to 286.  The sanctions are currently due to expire on 1 June 2017.

See Implementing Regulation 2016/1893 implementing Regulation 36/2012 and Implementing Decision 2016/1897 implementing Decision 2013/255/CFSP. The Council’s press release is here.

US targets Hizballah supporters

The US Treasury has sanctioned 4 people and 1 entity said to be providing financial support or assistance to Hizballah, which was designated by the State Department as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation in 1997 and is also designated under several other US sanctions regimes.  In addition, Saudi Arabia jointly added 2 of the newly designated people, who are said to be providing financial services to designated Hizballah financier Adham Tabaja, and the newly designated entity, which he owns, to its own sanctions.

In the US Treasury’s press release, senior official Adam Szubin stated that the Treasury “will continue to aggressively target Hizballah and those supporting its terrorist activities”.

Sina Bank wins EU Iran re-listing case

Sina Bank’s original EU Iran sanctions listing was annulled (see previous blog) because the reason given for its inclusion (“closely linked to the interests of ‘Daftar’… It contributes in this way to funding the regime’s strategic interests”) was too vague.  Its re-listing has now also been annulled by the General Court (link to the judgment here), although these measures have now been lifted by the JCPOA. The judgment states (in summary) that:

  • The Council should have written to the bank itself, not to its lawyers, about its designation.
  • One of the reasons for re-listing the bank (intended to show that the bank supported nuclear proliferation) was too vague, and also breached the applicant’s rights of defence and effective judicial protection. The other reason (designed to show that the bank was “controlled” by a person or entity engaged in or supporting nuclear proliferation) was not.
  • The Council erred in having re-listed Sina Bank on the grounds that it was “controlled by” the Supreme Leader and his foundation without designating either of them.

Ukraine renews and expands Russia sanctions

Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko has enacted the decision of the National Security and Defence Council of Ukraine last month to renew the country’s unilateral sanctions on Russia, and expand the list of people and entities subject to the sanctions for being involved in the violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.  The new listings target, among others, Russian military firms, financial institutions supporting the Luhansk and Donetsk People’s Republics, and sea and air transportation companies doing business with occupied parts of Crimea.  The President’s original press release is here.