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.

New US Iran airline related designations

OFAC3The US today designated 9 people and entities procuring US origin export controlled goods for sanctioned Iranian airlines as Specially Designated Global Terrorist, and 31 aircraft in which previously designated entities have an interest. This is the 6th US Iran related counter-terrorist designation in the past two weeks.

The press statement (which lists the new SDGTs) explains that these “facilitators” have been procuring parts and services for sanctioned Iranian airlines, which enables the Iranian regime to transport weapons and “prop up the brutal Assad regime”, and which “have played a critical role in exporting the Iranian regime’s malign influence”.

Open invitation to breakfast seminar on 26 June 2018 – Collision Course? The future of US, EU and UK sanctions policy

Peters & Peters invite you to a breakfast seminar on the future of EU, US and UK sanctions policy on Tuesday 26 June 2018 in London.  Anna Bradshaw will lead the conversation with P&P sanctions and white collar crime practitioners and speakers Barbara Linney of Miller & Chevalier in Washington DC and Maya Lester QC, Brick Court Chambers.

They will discuss the most recent Iran and Russia sanctions developments and the challenges they pose for clients. Topics will include the broad reach of US primary and secondary sanctions, EU and UK responses to developments in US sanctions policy and the repercussions for EU businesses as they seek to negotiate conflicts of laws and financial crime risk. The panelists will also explore the impact of the anticipated Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018 and the uncertainty created by Brexit.

Please click here for further information


15 Fetter Lane,


8:30 am – Registration
9:00 am – Start
10:00 am – Finish

Places are limited for this open invitation event. Please confirm your attendance by emailing events@petersandpeters.com.


Russian counter-sanctions law passes Duma lower house

US-Russia2.jpgWe reported last week that Russia’s State Duma had amended the Russian Draft Bill No. 441399-7 “On Measures (Countermeasures) in Response to Unfriendly Actions of the USA and (or) other Foreign States” (previous blog). The amended Bill provides for a number of US counter-sanctions, including restrictions on the import into Russia of products and/or raw materials originating from the US and/or other foreign states, and on the export from Russia of products to foreign citizens. The original version of the Bill had stopped titanium exports to the US but the amended version instead gives the President the power to choose the sectors and products that will be affected, and to “ban or suspend co-operation with a hostile state”.

Yesterday, the amended Bill passed its third and final reading in the lower house of the State Duma, and will now move to the upper house for approval before being signed into law by President Putin. A second Bill that would make it a crime for anyone to comply with foreign sanctions against Russia has been delayed for further consultations with business (previous blog).

New US Russia general licences & FAQs


Following US sanctions imposed on a number of Russians on 6 April 2018 (previous blog), OFAC has issued 2 new Ukraine/Russia-related general licences:

  1. General License 15, which authorises US persons to engage in specified transactions related to winding down or maintaining business with GAZ Group and its subsidiaries until 23 October 2018.
  1. General License 12C, which replaces and supersedes General License 12B (previous blog) in its entirety. General License 12C “permits originating and intermediary U.S. financial institutions to process funds transfers that they would otherwise block to an account held by a blocked U.S. person at a U.S. financial institution. In addition, General License 12C clarifies that U.S. financial institutions can release such funds for authorized maintenance and wind-down purposes.”

OFAC has also published 6 new FAQs and revised existing FAQs relating to these general licences. See OFAC Notice here.

OFAC sanctions 5 Iranians linked to Iran’s ballistic missile programme

US Treasury BuildingYesterday, OFAC designated 5 Iranians “link[ed] to Iran’s ballistic missile program”. The following 4 individuals were designated pursuant to Executive Order 13224 for providing “ballistic missile-related technical expertise to Yemen’s Huthis… on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force (IRGC-QF)”: Mahmud Bagheri Kazemabad, Mohammad Agha Ja’fari, Javad Bordbar Shir Amin and Mehdi Azarpisheh. The remaining Iranian individual – Sayyed Mohammad Ali Haddadnezhad Tehrani – was designated pursuant to Executive Order 13382 for acting/supporting/assisting the ‘IRGC Research and Self-Sufficiency Jehad Organization’, which itself was designated in July 2018 for being “responsible for the research and development of ballistic missiles”. As a result, asset freezing measures apply to the designated individuals. See OFAC Notice and US Treasury press release.

On 21 May 2018, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a speech reaffirming US commitment to the ‘Iran strategy’ President Trump had laid down in October 2017 (previous blog). In particular, that the US would “continue to work with allies to counter the [Iranian] regime’s destabilizing activities in the region, block their financing of terror, and address Iran’s proliferation of missiles and other advanced weapons systems that threaten peace and stability. We will also ensure Iran has no path to a nuclear weapon – not now, not ever”. In order to pursue those “goals on Iran”, Mr Pompeo said that the US “will apply unprecedented financial pressure on the Iranian regime”, with sanctions “going back in full effect and new ones coming… This sting of sanctions will be painful if the regime does not change its course from the unacceptable and unproductive path it has chosen to one that rejoins the league of nations. These will indeed end up being the strongest sanctions in history when we are complete.”

UK Commons Report on Russian money in the UK and sanctions


Yesterday, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee published a report entitled Moscow’s Gold: Russian Corruption in the UK, making a number of conclusions and recommendations:

  1. It calls on the Government to work with the G7 and other international partners to investigate and close the “gaps in the sanctions regime that allowed a company such as En+ to float on the London Stock Exchange” (US-sanctioned “Kremlin associate” Oleg Deripaska is linked to En+).
  2. It welcomes, in the UK Sanctions Bill, the broad definition of the purpose of sanctions regulations.  The committee calls on the Government to “broaden its approach to sanctions” by including individuals closely connected to “hostile regimes”, where appropriate, while retaining the practice of linking sanctions relief to specific actions (e.g. compliance with the Minsk agreements). The UK should work with EU partners, both before and after leaving the EU, to “identify and sanction the individuals and entities on whom the Kremlin relies in carrying out its acts of aggression”. This should also be done in “close consultation with the US Treasury and intelligence agencies”.
  3. The report welcomes the inclusion of a Magnitsky clause in the Sanctions Bill, and the Government’s pledge to publish a list of individuals sanctioned because of gross human rights violations (comparable to the US Magnitsky list). The Government “should coordinate as closely as possible with the US, EU, G7 and other allies” since “individual sanctions are most effective when a united front can be presented”.
  4. Given “Russia’s ability to issue new sovereign debt on global markets with the assistance of sanctioned banks”, the Government should work with the EU and US to prohibit the purchase of bonds in which a sanctioned entity has acted as book runner, and an EU agreement should be sought to bar the European clearing houses from making available Russian sovereign debt.

Meanwhile the UK has yet to renew a visa for Roman Abramovich, following its expiry last month.

OFSI updates monetary penalties guidance

OFSI1The UK Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) has revised its guidance on Monetary Penalties for Breaches of Financial Sanctions. The revised version clarifies the section on voluntary disclosure (Chapter 3, Case Assessment) and updates the tribunal process section (Chapter 7, Right of Appeal).