About Maya Lester QC

Maya Lester QC has a wide ranging practice in public law, European law, competition law, international law, human rights & civil liberties. She has a particular expertise in sanctions. As the most recent (2016) Chambers & Partners directory put it, she "owns the world of sanctions". She spent 2011-12 in New York at Columbia Law School lecturing and writing on sanctions. She represents and advises hundreds of companies and individuals before the European and English courts and has acted in most of the leading cases, including Kadi, Tay Za, Central Bank of Iran, NITC and IRISL.

EU renews sanctions on Belarus

The EU has decided to extend its sanctions on Belarus for one year, which consist of an arms embargo and targeted asset freezes and travel bans against 4 people. The 4 people are suspected of being involved in the unresolved disappearances of 2 opposition politicians, 1 businessman, and 1 journalist in 1999 and 2000. It has also prolonged a derogation allowing the export of biathlon equipment to Belarus, such as sporting rifles, subject to prior authorisation.

The relevant legal measures will be published in the Official Journal today and the EU’s press release is here.

Law Society seeks legal profession’s views on sanctions issues

The Law Society (England & Wales) is seeking to engage with the legal profession on sanctions issues.  The first issues they are looking at are the new sanctions reporting obligation on legal professionals, and sanctions licensing issues (click here for further information). Please contact Helena Mumdzjana, AML Policy Adviser at the Law Society by 16 March 2018 if you would like to contribute to these discussions.

Government invites views on post-Brexit sanctions bill in Commons

The Government is inviting submissions on the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill that is currently making its way through Parliament. The Bill is intended to allow the UK to operate its own sanctions policy following Brexit and continue to implement UN sanctions – currently the majority of its sanctions originate in or are implemented through the EU’s sanctions framework.

The Bill had its second reading in the House of Commons this week and has now been sent to a Public Bill Committee, which will meet for the first time on Tuesday 27 February. Submissions to the committee should be emailed to scrutiny@parliament.uk, and the committee’s press release is here.

The House of Commons has published a briefing paper on the Bill, updated explanatory notes, and a transcript of the Bill’s second reading is available here.

EU updates entry for 1 person listed on ISIL & Al-Qaida sanctions

The EU has amended the entry for Djamel Lounici, who is listed on its sanctions against ISIL & Al-Qaida. The amended version states that he returned to Algeria from France, as opposed to Italy, and no longer states that he is the son in law of Othman Deramchi. Mr Deramchi was deleted from the EU’s sanctions list in July last year.

See Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/256 amending Council Regulation (EC) 881/2002.

UK Government on EU sanctions cooperation post Brexit

shutterstock_624878165The Prime Minister today (Saturday 17 February) gave a speech at the Munich Security Conference (text here), saying that the UK “will want to continue to work closely” with the EU on sanctions. “We will look to carry over all EU sanctions at the time of our departure. And we will all be stronger in the UK and EU have the means to co-operate on sanctions now and potentially to develop them again in the future.” As to “ensuring the Iranian nuclear deal is properly policed or standing up to Russia’s hostile actions, whether in Ukraine, the Western Balkans or in cyberspace… our success depends on a breadth of partnership that extends far beyond the institutional mechanisms for cooperation with the EU”.
The UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson MP also gave a speech on various aspects of Brexit last Wednesday, one of a series of speeches by cabinet ministers. He said that post Brexit “It would be illogical not to discuss such matters as sanctions together, bearing in mind that UK expertise provides more than half of all EU sanctions listings.” Link here (14 February 2018).

Canada sanctions Burma’s former military chief over Rohingya crisis

Canada3.jpgThe Canadian Government has imposed targeted sanctions (asset freeze) against Burma’s former Major-General Maung Maung Soe, pursuant to the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act (Sergei Magnitsky Law), by amending the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Regulations.

Maung Maung Soe was sanctioned for being “responsible for, or complicit in, gross violations of internationally-recognized human rights against the Rohingya in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State” which “forced more than 688,000 Rohingya to flee their country”. Canadian press release here.

OFAC added Maung Maung Soe to its Global Magnitsky sanctions list on 21 December 2017 (see previous blog here).

UK extends EU Venezuela sanctions to Overseas Territories

Parliament2The UK has passed the Venezuela (Sanctions) (Overseas Territories) Order 2018, SI 2018/179, which gives effect in specified Overseas Territories to the EU sanctions measures provided in Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/2074 and Council Regulation (EU) 2017/2063. Those include an arms embargo, framework to impose targeted measures against those responsible for human rights violations and/or undermining democracy and the rule of law in Venezuela (see previous blog here). The Order comes into force on 8 March 2018.

The Overseas Territories to which this Order extends: Anguilla; British Antarctic Territory; British Indian Ocean Territory; Cayman Islands; Falkland Islands; Montserrat; Pitcairn, Henderson, Ducie and Oeno Islands; St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha; South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands; the Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia in the Island of Cyprus; Turks and Caicos Islands; and Virgin Islands.

Cambodia sanctions Bill in US Senate

Senate2.jpgLast week, the Cambodia Accountability and Return on Investment Act of 2018 was introduced in the US Senate. The Bill makes provision for sanctions (US travel restrictions and asset freezes) to be imposed on “individuals involved in undermining democracy in Cambodia”, including senior officials of the Government of Cambodia (including the military, gendarmerie, police, and judiciary), officers and employees of entities owned or controlled by such officials, and immediate family members of those officials.

The Bill also requires the Secretary of the Treasury to “instruct the United States executive director to each international financial institution to use the voice and vote of the United States to oppose the extension by that institution of any loan or financial or technical assistance for the Government of Cambodia, other than to meet basic human needs”. The Bill has now been referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.