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.

First listings under EU’s Chemical Weapons sanctions regime

EU6Today (21 January), the EU added 9 individuals and 1 entity to its Chemical Weapons sanctions list (asset freeze and travel ban). These are the first listings to be made under the sanctions regime. See Council Decision (CFSP) 2019/86, Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/84, and EU Press Release.

Syria-based Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC) was sanctioned for the “development and production of chemical weapons”. The entity is already listed under the EU’s Syria sanctions regime.

The 9-listed people: Tariq Yasmina; Khaled Nasri; Walid Zughaib; Firas Ahmed; Said Said; Anatoliy Vladimirovich Chepiga; Alexander Yevgeniyevich Mishkin; Vladimir Stepanovich Alexseyev; and Igor Olegovich Kostyukov.

Mr Chepiga and Mr Mishkin (both Russian GRU officials), and Mr Kostyukov and Mr Alexseyev (the Head and First Deputy Head of the GRU, respectively), were sanctioned for being “responsible for [the] possession, transport and use in Salisbury (UK) of a toxic nerve agent” against Sergei and Yulia Skripal (March 2018). The other 5-listed people are “Syrian officials directly involved in the SSRC’s activities”.

EU Court upholds Syria sanctions listings of Bena Properties & Cham Holding

CJEU1The EU General Court has dismissed the annulment applications brought by Bena Properties (Syria’s largest real estate investment company) and Cham Holding (Syria’s largest holding company), in respect of their 2016 – 2018 EU Syria sanctions listings. See judgments: T-412/16 and T-413/16 (16 January 2019).

The entities were listed for being controlled by EU-designated Rami Makhlouf, and for funding/supporting the Syrian regime.

The applicants’ cases failed because the EU’s Syria sanctions now provide for entities supporting the regime, as well as those owned or controlled by influential businessmen operating in Syria and members of the Assad or Makhlouf families as criteria on the basis of which the EU can include entities for designation.

US House of Reps back RUSAL sanctions

US-RussiaWe reported last month that the US Treasury had notified Congress of its intention to terminate the sanctions imposed on En+ Group, RUSAL, and JSC EuroSibEnergo, after (inter alia) corporate governance changes, including reducing Oleg Deripaska’s shareholding to below 50%.

Yesterday (17 January 2019), a Joint Resolution passed the US House of Representatives (362 to 58 votes) expressing disapproval of the Treasury’s intention to terminate the sanctions, but a Joint Resolution was not approved in the Republican-led Senate earlier this week (16 January). As a result, the Treasury is expected to continue with lifting the sanctions.

UK passes Sanctions (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019

Parliament3The UK has passed the Sanctions (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, SI 2019/26, which make amendments to a number of EU sanctions regimes to ensure (inter alia) that they continue to apply within the UK after Brexit. The Regulations will come into force on exit day.

Venezuela brings WTO complaint against US sanctions

WTOVenezuela has initiated WTO dispute consultations with the US, claiming that certain US laws and regulations relating to goods of Venezuelan origin, the liquidity of Venezuelan public debt, transactions in Venezuelan digital currency, and the SDN List are inconsistent with the WTO’s General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) 1994 and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). After 60 days, if the consultations have failed to resolve the dispute, Venezuela may request adjudication by a panel. See WTO Press Release.

UN Sanctions Best Practices Guide

UN5Australia, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden have come together to create a Best Practices Guide for Chairs and Members of UN Sanctions Committees.

The Guide (inter alia) outlines the roles and interrelationship of key sanctions actors (e.g. UN Security Council); describes the standard practices by which Chairs and Members of Sanctions Committees operate; provides a list of sanctions currently in force, including a description of the types of sanctions, how they work, and the compliance obligation standards that apply; and outlines the activities and endeavours by sanctions committees that enhance effective sanctions implementation, such as thematic sanctions, designations and due process, and sanctions and human rights.

The Guide in its present form will be subject to further consultations and refinements when the project enters its second phase, during which a Best Practices Guide for UN sanctions monitoring expert groups and their coordinators will be developed.