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.

US rejects EU’s request for Iran sanctions exemptions

US Flag.jpgUS Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin have written a letter rejecting the EU’s request for exemptions to the US Iran sanctions that will be re-imposed in August and November 2018 after the US decision to withdraw from the JCPOA. The letter states that the “[US] will seek to provide unprecedented financial pressure on the Iranian regime”.

The EU had requested exemptions in a joint letter signed by the E3 last month (summarised in our previous blog). They sought carve-puts for finance, energy and healthcare. The US letter states that the US will only allow carve-outs if necessary for US national security or humanitarian purposes.

EU adopts targeted sanctions framework against Maldives

EU1Today, the EU announced that it has adopted a framework to impose targeted sanctions (travel ban and asset freeze) against those responsible for “undermining the rule of law or obstructing an inclusive political solution in the Maldives”, as well as those responsible for “serious human rights violations”.

This decision is a direct follow up to the EU conclusions (26 February 2018) adopted in respect of the situation in the Maldives (previous blog).

EU implements UN de-listing of Iraq’s State Organisation of Grain

EU4Earlier this week, the UN Security Council removed the ‘General Establishment for Grain Trading’ from its Iraq sanctions list (previous blog).

Yesterday, the EU implemented this UN delisting by adopting Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/979. As a result, the body will no longer be subject to EU asset freezing measures. UK OFSI Notice here.

EU Court annuls 2017 re-listing of Andriy Klyuyev under Ukraine misappropriation sanctions

CJEU1We reported in September 2016 that the EU General Court had annulled the 2014 designation of Andriy Klyuyev (former Head of Administration of the President of Ukraine) under the EU’s sanctions relating to the misappropriation of Ukrainian state funds. However, the Court upheld his 2015 listing, as subsequently amended by the EU Council (see previous blog).

This week (11 July 2018), the same Court decided to uphold Mr Klyuyev’s 2016 listing but annulled his 2017 re-listing, see judgment: Klyuyev v Council T-240/16. The Court held that the information relied upon by the Council in maintaining Mr Klyuyev’s 2017 listing, as set out in letters from Ukraine’s Prosecutor General, had been “incomplete and tainted with inconsistencies”. Accordingly, when considered alongside the exculpatory evidence presented by Mr Klyuyev, the Council ought to have investigated further and sought clarification from the Ukrainian authorities. The Court held that the Council had therefore committed a manifest error of assessment in having considered that it was not required to take into account the evidence produced by Mr Klyuyev or to make further enquiries of the Ukrainian authorities.

In March 2018, Mr Klyuyev was re-listed until 6 March 2019 under Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/333. That 2018 re-listing, however, was not addressed in the present judgment. As a result, Mr Klyuyev continues to remain on the EU sanctions list (subject to an asset freeze).

US sanctions Iran-backed terrorist group al-Ashtar Brigades

US Department of StateToday, the US Department of State has designated al-Ashtar Brigades, “an Iran-backed terrorist group in Bahrain”, as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO), pursuant to section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT), pursuant to section 1(b) of Executive Order 13224. As a result, the group will now be subject to US asset freezing measures. See OFAC Notice and State Department Press Release.

In March 2017, the State Department designated two al-Ashtar Brigades-affiliated individuals as SDGTs (see here).

OFAC sanctions Malaysia-based Mahan Travel over Iran links

Mahan Air Travel.jpgOFAC has designated Malaysia-based Mahan Air Travel and Tourism Sdn Bhd (a.k.a. Mahan Travel), pursuant to Executive Order 13224, “for acting for or on behalf of Mahan Air, an Iranian airline previously designated in connection with Iran’s support for international terrorism”.

According to the US Treasury press release, Mahan Travel has served Mahan Air for at least 8 years as its sole General Sales Agent in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and provides reservation and ticketing services for Mahan Air. As a result, Mahan Travel will now be subject to US asset freezing measures. See OFAC Notice.

Cyprus Bar advice on Russia sanctions

CBA.jpgThe Cyprus Bar Association has issued a circular, drawing its members’ attention to the recent US sanctions on Russia (previous blog). It advises its members:

1.      To assess the extent and risks of US secondary sanctions to their members and clients. US secondary sanctions are those imposed under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which provides that US sanctions may be imposed on any person/entity that facilitates a “significant transaction” with any of the designated Russian people/entities.

2.      “In the case of a new client” who is subject to US Russia sanctions, members of the Cyprus Bar “are encouraged to avoid entering into any business relationship with them”.