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.

Government evidence on sanctions post-Brexit

The House of Lords EU External Affairs Sub-Committee has taken evidence from the UK Government on sanctions post Brexit as part of its inquiry into post Brexit sanctions policy (see previous blog).  It heard evidence from:

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (Paul Williams, Multilateral Policy Director; Andrew Murdoch, Legal Counsellor; Matthew Findlay, Deputy Head of International Organisations Department), Giles Thomson, Deputy Director, Sanctions and Illicit Finance, HM Treasury, and Rena Lalgie, Head of OFSI. You can watch the evidence session here.

Human Rights Watch calls for UN sanctions on Burma/Myanmar

Human Rights Watch has called on the UN to impose targeted sanctions and an arms embargo on Burma/Myanmar’s military, in response to the “ethnic cleansing campaign” against Rohingya Muslims.  It called on the Security Council to ask that Burma allow humanitarian aid agencies to access people in need, permit entry to a UN fact-finding mission to investigate human rights violations, and ensure the safe and voluntary return of displaced people.  The Human Rights Watch press release is here.

EU extends and updates Russia/Ukraine sanctions

The EU has extended its sanctions on people and entities that are said to be undermining the territorial integrity of Ukraine for 6 months until 15 March 2018.  It has also added Crimean Sea Ports to its list of designated people and entities, amended the sanctions to include a derogation for payments to Crimean Sea Ports for certain services, and updated the listing information for several people subject to the sanctions.

See Council Regulation 2017/1547 amending Council Regulation 269/2014, Council Implementing Regulation 2017/1549 implementing Council Regulation 269/2014, and Council Decision (CFSP) 2017/1561 amending Council Decision 2014/145/CFSP. The EU’s notice to listed persons is here.

US Treasury targets cyberattackers and drug traffickers

OFAC has designated Iranian computer security company IT Sec Team and 3 people acting on its behalf for planning and executing DDoS attacks against at least 9 large US financial institutions in 2011 and 2012. It has also designated 4 Iranian nationals working for another Iranian computer security company Mersad Co., which used a botnet to target 24 corporations in the US financial sector with DDoS attacks in 2012 and 2013. On 24 March 2016, the Department of Justice announced that a grand jury had indicted the 7 people designated in this action (see press release here).

Separately, OFAC has designated 4 Mexican entities and 3 Mexican people linked to drug trafficking organisations the Cartel de Jalisco Nueva Generacion and the Los Cuinis Drug Trafficking Organisation. The organisations were designated in 2015, and in the Treasury’s press release OFAC Director John Smith said that the Treasury “continues to untangle and expose the web of businesses” they control.

The details of all the listings are here.

Government says UK & EU will be “stronger acting together” on sanctions & foreign policy post Brexit

department_for_exiting_the_european_union_logoThe Department for Exiting the European Union has published a position paper today (one of a number of its Brexit position papers) entitled ‘Foreign policy, defence and development: a future partnership paper’ in which it “discusses options for foreign policy, defence and development collaboration in the future partnership”.  Link here. Key points in the paper are that:

  1. The UK has been central to EU foreign policy, including as regards sanctions where the UK:
  • “has been the most active Member State in proposing autonomous EU sanctions as a foreign policy tool”;
  • “has also been able to encourage cooperation between the EU and like-minded partners, including the United States, increasing the reach and impact of agreed measures”; and
  • many of the asset freezes applied to terrorist organisations by the EU are based on UK national proscriptions or asset freezes.
  1. “The UK and EU will be stronger acting together.” “Given the shared threats and challenges we face, and the UK’s deep commitment to European values, it is in the interests of both the UK and the EU to continue to work together to meet the challenges of the day, including by “upholding the rules-based international order through aligning sanctions regimes”. “The UK and the EU should remain close partners in foreign policy issues.”
  2. The UK “is establishing its own national legal framework for sanctions” (see previous blog) “but continues to see a strong mutual interest in cooperation and collaboration with European partners.” This could be done through “regular dialogue and specific cooperation. The UK and the EU should have regular close consultations on foreign and security policy issues, with the option to agree joint positions on foreign policy issues. This could include cooperation on sanctions listings, including by sharing information and aligning policy where appropriate.”




New UN sanctions on N Korea

The UN Security Council has voted in favour of a US-drafted resolution to introduce new sanctions on North Korea.  The UN’s press release and the text of the resolution are here. The sanctions were amended from initial US proposals in order to win the support of Russia and China (see previous blog).  The new resolution prohibits:

  1. North Korean textile exports;
  2. the transfer of all condensates and natural gas liquids to North Korea;
  3. the transfer of refined petroleum products in excess of 500,000 barrels until the end of the year and in excess of 2million barrels per year thereafter;
  4. the transfer of crude oil in amounts in excess of that which was transferred by the state in question in the 12-months leading up to the resolution being passed;
  5. Member States from authorising North Korean nationals to work in their jurisdictions unless authorised by the UN’s North Korea sanctions committee; and
  6. new or existing joint ventures with North Korea.

The resolution also requires the inspection of vessels, with the consent of the vessel’s flag state, if there are reasonable grounds to believe that they are carrying items subject to sanctions, and extends a number of existing sanctions. 3 new North Korean government entities have also been listed on the sanctions – the Central Military Commission, the Organisation and Guidance Department, and the Propaganda and Agitation Department – as well as member of the country’s Central Military Commission Pak Yong Sik.

 The UK government’s notice is here.

The Philippines suspends trade with North Korea

The Philippines, North Korea’s fifth-largest trading partner, has suspended trade with North Korea.   Speaking at the end of last week, the Philippines’ Foreign Minister Peter Cayetano said that his country will “fully comply with the UNSC resolution, including the economic sanctions”. In 2016, over $40m worth of trade took place between the two countries.

UN establishes sanctions against people destabilising Mali

The UN Security Council has adopted a resolution (2374 (2017)) establishing a sanctions regime on Mali, which will impose travel bans and assets freezes on people and entities engaged in activities that threaten the peace, security, or stability of the country.  A sanctions committee has been set up for an initial period of 13 months to help operate the sanctions regime.

The Government of Mali requested in August that a sanctions regime be set up, in response to what it said were repeated ceasefire violations by armed groups in Northern Mali.