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.

General Court rejects another re-listing case; IRISL v Council

The General Court of the EU has rejected another challenge to the re-listing of entities after they have won their annulments challenging their initial listing on the EU’s Iran sanctions; Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines v Council (link to the judgment is here).  The Court has held that the Council was entitled not only to re-list IRISL and some companies said to be connected with it, but that it could introduce new listing criteria that expressly target IRISL-connected companies after IRISL’s designation had been annulled (on which see previous blog). The judgment contains interesting comments on the probative value of witness evidence and the credibility and source of evidence. Maya Lester QC acted for the applicants.

Amazon reports US Iran sanctions breaches

amazon-logo-1Amazon has announced that it may have violated US sanctions on Iran by processing and delivering orders of consumer products to sanctioned people and entities located outside Iran.  Amazon voluntarily reported the possible violations, and has said that it will cooperate with an investigation by US regulators.  It has also said it will enhance its processes designated to identify transactions associated with people designated under the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act 2012.

EU holds new information on 2 people listed on Egypt sanctions

egypt-cairo-2The EU has published a notice for the attention of Mohamed and Amir Garrana, both listed on its sanctions against those said to have misappropriated Egyptian state funds, informing them that it holds new information on file concerning them.  They may write to the Council to obtain the information relating to them before 13 February 2017.

EU updates several listings under DRC sanctions

drc-1-kinshasaThe EU has updated the identifying information for 21 people and 1 entity listed on its sanctions on the Democratic Republic of Congo, in line with changes made by the UN to its own listings in October last year.  See Implementing Regulation 2017/199 implementing Regulation 1183/2005 and Implementing Decision 2017/203 implementing Decision 2010/788/CFSP.  The EU’s notices to the persons in question are here and here.

UN High Level Review of Sanctions

un-logo-1The ongoing  High Level Review of UN Sanctions (HLR) has asked for contributions in February 2017 from the private sector and state representatives in particular on the following proposals relating to benefits and costs of UN sanctions on businesses:

  1. Companies worldwide require clear and practical information about the objectives of UN sanctions.
  2. High implementation costs and non-transparent implementation requirements can impose high compliance costs on private sector actors.
  3. More  technical guidance is needed from the UN with  respect to steps companies should take to be compliant with all UN sanctions regimes.
  4. Companies require industry-specific, and geographically relevant information about commonly observed evasion strategies, and other deceptive means with which sanctions violators often implicate innocent private sector actors.
  5. Companies need to know about unfair competitive advantages and corrupt practices by sanctions violators and be protected against related costs and challenges from competitors operating from jurisdictions that tend to tolerate sanctions violations.

The high level review is open to observations on other concerns too, relating to UN sanctions.  Please email rico-carisch@comcapint.com for a briefing paper and information on ways to make contributions.

New US targeted Iran sanctions

thum-0e213ce3a7c1af8c9007-1523The US Treasury department today added 13 people and 12 companies to its sanctions list, freezing their assets under US control. The White House spokesman, said the sanctions were a “very, very strong stand against the actions Iran has taken”; Iran tested a ballistic missile a few days ago. The new listings are here.  Among those sanctioned are those the US Treasury says support a trade network run by Iranian businessman Abdollah Asgharzadeh who is said to support Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, a subsidiary of an Iranian entity said to run Iran’s ballistic missile programme, and a Lebanon-based network run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

A few hours before they were announced, President Trump tweeted: “Iran is playing with fire. They don’t appreciate how ‘kind’ President Obama was to them. Not me!” Iran’s foreign ministry, in a statement on Friday, said the US sanctions were “illegal” and “illegitimate” and said Iran would consider imposing restrictions on American entities and individuals who “have created and helped terrorist groups . . . and killings and suppression of defenseless civilians” in the Middle East.

OFAC licences certain incidental transactions with Russia’s FSB

fsb-building-1OFAC has issued a general licence authorising US companies to request and pay for licences from Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) for the export of certain IT products to Russia.  A link to the new licence is here.

The FSB is responsible for authorising the import of electronic goods with encryption functions into Russia.  A prohibition on transacting with the FSB, imposed in response to Russia’s alleged involvement in hacking related to the US election, was therefore having the unintended consequence of preventing US companies from exporting certain IT products to Russia.  The exports themselves must still be licenced by the Bureau of Industry and Security, and payments to the FSB for licences must not exceed $5,000 per annum.