Russian court sentences Magnitsky campaigner in absentia

Russia1British businessman Bill Browder, who has campaigned for people responsible for corruption and gross human rights violations following the death of Moscow lawyer Sergei Magnitsky to be held to account, was sentenced yesterday by the Tverskoy District Court (Moscow) in absentia to nine years’ imprisonment for deliberate bankruptcy and tax evasion.

Mr Browder, who denies the allegations, has stated that the decision of the Moscow court is a reaction to his efforts to get five countries (US, Canada, UK (relevant provisions yet to come into force), Estonia and Lithuania) to impose ‘Magnitsky-style’ sanctions against Russian individuals. In 2013, the same court convicted Mr Browder of tax evasion in a separate trial in absentia (he was tried alongside the late Sergei Magnitsky, who was posthumously found guilty of tax evasion). Yesterday’s sentencing comes a week after the US added five additional Russians to its Russia-Magnitsky sanctions list (see previous blog here).

OFAC sanctions two N Korean officials

US Treasury BuildingYesterday, OFAC sanctioned two individuals, Kim Jong Sik and Ri Pyong Chol, for being “key leaders of North Korea’s unlawful weapons programs”. The measures were made pursuant to Executive Order 13687, which targets, among others, officials of the Government of North Korea and the Workers’ Party of Korea. This announcement comes days after the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2397 (2017), which increased sanctions against the state of North Korea and imposed targeted measures against 16 individuals and 1 entity, including Mr Jong Sik and Mr Pyong Chol (see previous blog here). Links here for the OFAC Notice and the US Treasury press release.

OFAC designates ‘Thieves-in-Law’ Eurasian criminal organisation and its supporters

Logo_of_the_U.S._Office_of_Foreign_Assets_Control_(OFAC)OFAC has designated ‘Thieves-in-Law’, a “Eurasian criminal entity”, along with 10 individuals and 2 entities allegedly linked to the organisation (asset freezes imposed). The designations were made pursuant to Executive Order 13581, which targets significant transnational criminal organisations and their supporters.

In addition, OFAC has deleted 26 entries from its SDN list. Links here for the OFAC Notice and the US Treasury press release.

UN increases sanctions on N Korea

UN1Following North Korea’s ballistic missile test on 29 November 2017, the UN Security Council decided yesterday to increase sanctions against North Korea by unanimously adopting UNSC Resolution 2397 (2017). The main measures are as follows:

  1. Caps North Korea’s imports of refined petroleum to 500,000 barrels for 12 months starting on 1 January 2018;
  2. Limits North Korea’s imports of crude oil to 4 million barrels for 12 months as of 22 December 2017;
  3. Expands sectoral sanctions by introducing a ban on North Korea’s export of food and agricultural products, machinery, electrical equipment, earth and stone, wood and vessels;
  4. Introduces a ban on the supply, sale or transfer to North Korea of all industrial machinery, transportation vehicles, iron, steel and other metals (except spare parts to maintain North Korean commercial civilian passenger aircraft currently in use);
  5. Requires Member States to repatriate all North Korean nationals earning income within 24 months from 22 December 2017;
  6. Authorises Member States to seize, inspect, freeze and impound any vessel in their territorial waters found to be illicitly providing oil to North Korea through ship‑to‑ship transfers, or smuggling coal and other prohibited commodities from the country; and
  7. Designates an additional 16 individuals (mainly banking officials – asset freezes and travel bans imposed), and 1 entity (‘Ministry of the People’s Armed Forces’ – asset freeze imposed). UK OFSI Notice here (amended version here).

The UNSC stated that additional tests of nuclear weapons or long‑range ballistic missiles by North Korea would result in further restrictions on its import of petroleum. UN press release here.

UK Sanctions Bill human rights evidence

Parliament6The Joint Committee on Human Rights has now published 3 papers submitted as evidence in its inquiry into human rights concerns arising out of the UK Sanctions Bill.  The papers are from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the Law Society and Professor Emeritus Clive Walker.  Links here.

UN removes entry from Guinea-Bissau sanctions list

UN1The UN Security Council has removed one person, Sanha Clussé, from its Guinea-Bissau sanctions list (was listed in July 2012 for being a member of the ‘Military Command’ which had “resumed responsibility for the coup d’état of 12 April 2012”). As a result, the travel ban set out in para 4 of UN Security Council resolution 2048 (2012) no longer applies to him. UN press release here.

OFAC adds 52 to Global Magnitsky sanctions list

US Treasury Building.jpgUS President Trump has issued a new Executive Order (EO) 13818 Blocking the Property of Persons Involved in Serious Human Rights Abuses and Corruption (it implements the provisions of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, signed into law in December 2016). The EO imposes financial sanctions and visa restrictions on persons determined (inter alia) to be responsible for or complicit in, or to have directly or indirectly engaged in, certain human rights abuses or corrupt acts anywhere in the world.

Acting concurrently, OFAC has added 15 individuals and 37 entities to its Global Magnitsky sanctions list. These designations come a day after OFAC added 5 Russian individuals to its Russia-Magnitsky sanctions list (see previous blog here). Links here for the OFAC Notice (including the list of the 52 designations), new FAQs relating to this EO, US Treasury press release, and the US Department of State press release.

EU extends Russia sanctions by six months

EU3The EU has adopted Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/2426, which prolongs sanctions targeting the financial, energy and defence sectors of the Russian economy until 31 July 2018 (we reported last week that EU leaders had agreed to continue the sanctions). The EU measures were originally introduced in July 2014 for one year in response to Russia’s actions “destabilising the situation in Ukraine”. EU press release here (includes summary of sanctions prolonged by this decision).