EU implements UN updated Iran information

The EU has updated the listings of 23 people and 14 entities on its anti-nuclear proliferation / ballistic missile sanctions on Iran, to reflect amendments made to the identifying information by the UN.  See Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/1124 implementing Council Regulation 267/2012 and Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2017/1127 implementing Council Decision 2010/413/CFSP.

3 Latvian banks fined for compliance failure relating to DPRK sanctions

Latvia’s banking regulator has fined 3 Latvian banks, Regionala Investiciju Banka, Privatbank, and Baltikums Bank, for failing to prevent their clients from using them to circumvent sanctions on DPRK.  The investigation was conducted in collaboration with the US Treasury and the FBI.

The Latvian Financial and Capital Market Commission, said in a statement that “several customers of the banks, making use of offshore companies and complicated chain transactions, transferred funds from their bank accounts to circumvent international sanctions requirements against North Korea”. Privatbank and Baltikums bank were both fined €35,575 for having weaknesses in their customer due diligence and transaction monitoring systems, Regionala was fined €570,364 and warnings were issued to its compliance team for weaknesses in its compliance systems and failing to ensure they were functioning correctly.

Delayed US sanctions bill on Iran & Russia resumes passage through House

Earlier this month, the US Senate voted in favour of new sanctions on Iran and Russia set out in the Countering Iran’s Destabilising Activities Bill (see previous blog).  The US constitutional requirement that any bill that raises revenue for the government originates in the House delayed its passage, but the Senate has now sent a revised version to the House that resolves this issue. Because of the delay, the House will not vote on the bill until after the G20 summit on 7-9 July.

The bill mandates the imposition of sanctions against people and entities who materially contribute to Iran’s ballistic missile programme (the President currently has a discretion to impose those sanctions by executive order).  This provision includes the imposition of secondary sanctions, which apply to non-US people and entities. It also authorises the President to impose asset freezes and travel bans for human rights violations in Iran, and asset freezes on people and entities associated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps or anyone that knowingly contributes to the sale or transfer of arms or related services to Iran. In addition, it requires the President to account for any discrepancies between US and EU sanctions on Iran in a report to Congress every 180 days.

The bill would expand existing sanctions on Russian people involved in human rights abuses, impose sanctions on people conducting cyberattacks on behalf of the Russian government, supplying weapons to Syria’s government or who interfered in the 2016 US elections, and consolidate sanctions on Russia’s energy and financial sectors currently imposed by executive order. It would also restrict the US President’s ability to ease sanctions on Russia without Congressional approval.

EU renews Russia sanctions

As foreshadowed last week (see previous blog), the EU Council has decided to renew its economic sanctions against Russia for another 6 months, until 21 January 2018.  The sanctions target Russia’s financial, energy, and defence sectors, and access to dual-use goods. The EU press release is here. See Council Decision 2017/1148 amending Council Decision 2014/512/CFSP.

HM Treasury releases responses to its sanctions consultation

HM Treasury has made public the responses it received to its December 2016 consultation on “The process for imposing monetary penalties for breaches of financial sanctions”, in response to a freedom of information request.  It has redacted all identifying information. A link to the responses is here, and the Treasury’s own response to the consultation is here.

When can EU court applicants challenge re-listings? AG opinion in HX appeal

HX was included in the EU’s Syria sanctions in 2014. Advocate General Kokott (the German Advocate General at the Court of Justice) has given her opinion in HX’s EJ appeal. See Opinion in Case C-423/16 P HX v Council and previous blog on the case here.

In the AG’s view, the General Court had been unduly formalistic and should have permitted HX to modify his application at the oral hearing to challenge his 2015 as well as 2014 listing (the Court had refused the modification because he made the application orally and not in a document). However, since all the 2015 listing did was extend the 2014 listing (which had been annulled in any case) by a year, HX had not been disadvantaged by the General Court’s decision.

EU amends DPRK sanctions listings

The EU has removed 1 person and 1 entity from its DPRK sanctions list.  Pyon Yong Rip had been listed for being President of the Academy of Science, involved in WMD-related biological research, and Korea International Chemical Joint Venture Company, was said to be a defence conglomerate specialising in acquisition for the DPRK and providing support for the country’s military-related sales. Pyon Yong Rip has been replaced as president of the Academy of Science.

The EU also amended other entries on its sanctions list, including the entries relating to KNIC whose challenge to its designation is currently pending in the General Court.  See Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/993 amending Council Regulation (EC) 329/2007 and Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/994 amending Council Decision 2016/849.

FATF continues DPRK measures & suspends them for Iran

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which sets standards for combating money laundering and terrorist financing (AML/CFT), has renewed its call for enhanced due diligence when dealing with North Korea in a press release.

FATF remains concerned about AML/CFT in DPRK, and so has urged members to apply UN targeted financial sanctions (and other measures) to protect their financial sectors from risks emanating from DPRK.

The FATF has also renewed the suspension of its requirement that member states impose counter-measures on Iran for deficiencies in its AML/CFT regime, which FATF introduced last year in response to Iran’s adoption of and commitment to an action plan to address those deficiencies (see previous blog).  The FATF still calls on all jurisdictions to continue to advise their financial institutions to apply enhanced due diligence when dealing with Iran.