Advocate General’s opinion – 2013 EU Iran sanctions IRISL listing criterion was unlawful

EU3Advocate General Sharpston has handed down a detailed opinion on the challenge by the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and various entities said to be connected with IRISL, to the legal criteria for designation enacted by the EU in 2013.

The main issue was whether it was lawful for the EU to have introduced criteria permitting designation on the grounds of connection with IRISL after IRISL’s own listing had been annulled. The Advocate General considers that that criterion was unlawful, and that the General Court’s judgment on this point (see previous blog) should be overturned. She rejected all other grounds of appeal. The next step is the judgment of the Court of Justice.

OFAC sanctions DPRK-controlled IT companies in China and Russia

US Treasury Building2Under its North Korea measures, OFAC has sanctioned China-based Yanbian Silverstar Network Technology Co. Ltd, its North Korean CEO, Jong Song Hwa, and its Russia-based sister company, Volasys Silver Star, in order to target “the revenue North Korea earns from overseas information technology (IT) workers”. US asset freezes imposed. See OFAC Notice and Treasury press release.

EU Court upholds sanctions on Russian banks & energy companies

CJEU1The EU General Court has dismissed actions to annul the EU’s sanctions that relate to Russian banks and energy companies: DenizBank, Sberbank, VTB Bank, Vnesheconombank, PSC Prominvestbank, Rosneft, and Gazprom Neft. The Court held (in brief summary) that:

a.      These measures (even though they are not the asset freeze provisions) are targeted sanctions to which the due process requirements (reasons etc) apply.

b.      Those duties had been sufficiently complied with.

c.       The measures were not incompatible with the EU-Russia Partnership Agreement or other trade agreements because they were justified by the EU’s security interests.

d.      The measures were not an unjustified or disproportionate restriction on fundamental rights even though the operators they targeted had nothing to do with Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

New US Executive Order to sanction foreign interference in US elections

Trump5Yesterday (12 September), the US issued a new Executive Order (EO) targeting foreign interference in US elections.

The EO requires the intelligence community and other Federal agencies to assess the extent of any foreign interference after every US election. If the US determines that any foreign interference has occurred, the EO authorises sanctions – some are asset freezing measures, others are to be designed and calibrated in light of specific facts – against any foreign individual, entity, or government that engages, assists, authorises, directs, sponsors, or otherwise supports foreign interference in a US election. See Statement from US President Trump, Presidential Message to the US Congress, and White House Factsheet.

EU prolongs Russia ‘territorial integrity’ sanctions for 6 months

EU6As foreshadowed last week, the EU has prolonged its sanctions on Russia over “actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine” for a further 6 months, until 15 March 2019. The measures consist of an asset freeze and travel ban on 155 people and 44 entities. The legal acts will be published in the Official Journal tomorrow. See EU press release here.

UN Panel of Experts say Belgian Euroclear Bank breached UN Libya sanctions

Libya2.jpgIn a Report published last week (5 September), the UN Panel of Experts for the Libya Sanctions Committee said Belgium’s Euroclear Bank had been in “non-compliance with the [UN-Libya] asset freeze”. The report states that the bank had allowed for interest payments from the frozen funds of the former Gaddafi regime to be made available to bank accounts of the Libyan Investment Authority in third countries until 23 October 2017.

EU court says no need to adjudicate on Bank Mellat’s case post JCPOA

CJEU1The Court of Justice has rejected Bank Mellat’s appeal in its case seeking to challenge not the targeted asset freeze on it (on which it succeeded – see previous blog), but the wider restrictions on Iranian banks that had been imposed by EU sanctions pre-JCPOA. Judgment here. The ECJ has held that Bank Mellat had no continuing interest in the case because the JCPOA lifted the banking restrictions it was challenging (the court distinguished the Abdulrahim cases concerning targeted asset freeze challenges).

The lower court had held (see previous blog) some of the application inadmissible on jurisdictional grounds and rejected other parts on the grounds that the restrictions had a valid legal basis and were proportionate.  We reported on Advocate General Mengozzi’s opinion in June this year (see previous blog).

UN & US add Ibrahim Jadhran to Libya sanctions list

UNSCThe UN Security Council has added Ibrahim Saeed Salim Jadhran to its Libya sanctions list for (inter alia) carrying out “armed actions and attacks against oil installations located in [Libya’s] oil crescent region that caused its destruction, the latest of which was on 14 June 2018”. As a result, Mr Jadhran will now be subject to a UN asset freeze and travel ban. See UN press release and summary of reasons for listing.

The US implemented this listing on 12 September 2018, see OFAC Notice and US Treasury press release.