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.

UK sanctions during Brexit implementation period

Jeremy Hunt

The UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has written to the Chair of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Tugendhat MP, explaining the Government’s position on UK sanctions during the Brexit implementation period (IP):

  1. The UK will remain bound by EU sanctions during the IP.
  1. The Government is currently working on how it can best take advantage of the powers provided by the UK Sanctions Act during the IP and will provide a fuller response “at the appropriate point in the New Year”.
  1. The Government will lay regulations to establish the structures and processes by which the Sanctions Act will operate in early 2019 and will then introduce a series of regulations relating to specific sanctions regimes.

EU sanctions 7 Burmese military officials over human rights abuses

EU Commission2Today (21 December), the EU added 7 people to its Myanmar/Burma sanctions list (asset freezes and travel bans). The sanctioned individuals are part of the Myanmar army (Tatmadaw) and the border guard police, and were listed for “serious human rights violations committed against the Rohingya population, ethnic minority villagers or civilians”. See Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/2054, Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/2053, and EU Press Release.

The 7 individuals: Ba Kyaw; Tun Naing; Khin Hlaing; Aung Myo Thu; Thant Zaw Win; Kyaw Chay; and Nyi Nyi Swe.

EU Court rejects Iran sanctions damages claims

CJEU1Iran Insurance Company and Post Bank Iran have had their damages claims dismissed in the EU General Court. They claimed damages for losses arising from their July 2010 to November 2013 EU Iran sanctions listings, which were annulled in September 2013 (see previous blog).

The court rejected the claims on the basis that the applicants had not sufficiently proved their losses. Judgments here: T-558/15 and T-559/15.

US to lift sanctions on En+, RUSAL & EuroSibEnergo in 30 days


Yesterday (19 December), the US Treasury notified Congress of its intention to terminate, in 30 days, the sanctions imposed on En+ Group, RUSAL, and JSC EuroSibEnergo. In return, those three entities have agreed to:

(i) undertake “significant restructuring and corporate governance changes”, including reducing Oleg Deripaska’s direct and indirect shareholding to below 50%;

(ii) overhaul the composition of their boards of directors;

(iii) take restrictive steps related to their corporate governance; and

(iv) agree to “unprecedented transparency” by undertaking extensive, ongoing auditing, certification, and reporting requirements.

As part of this agreement, half of En+’s restructured board of directors will be comprised of US or UK nationals, and RUSAL’s current board chairman will step down. Oleg Deripaska will remain sanctioned, and foreign persons will continue to be subject to secondary sanctions should they knowingly facilitate a significant transaction for or on behalf of Mr Deripaska or entities in which he owns a 50% or greater interest. See EU Statement.

EU General Court upholds Syria sanctions listings

CJEU1The EU General Court has upheld the 2016-18 Syria sanctions listings of Ehab Makhlouf (cousin of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad), Razan Othman (wife of EU-sanctioned Rami Makhlouf), and Syriatel Mobile Telecom (Joint Stock Company) (Syrian mobile telephone services company). See judgments (French only): T-409/16, T-416/16 and T-411/16 (12 December 2018).

Ehab Makhlouf was listed for being a leading Syrian businessman (Vice President of and shareholder in Syriatel Mobile Telecom) and an influential member of the Makhlouf family and closely connected with the Assad family. Razan Othman is listed for being associated with, and benefiting from, the Syrian regime because of her close personal and financial relations with Rami Makhlouf, cousin of President Assad and principal financier of the regime. Syriatel Mobile Telecom is listed for being controlled by Rami Makhlouf, and for providing financial support to the Syrian regime by paying significant profits to the Government under its licencing agreement.

Changes to EU list of controlled dual-use items due in coming weeks

EU3The time period for the European Council and Parliament to comment on changes to the EU’s list of dual-use items subject to export controls ended on 10 December 2018, and the changes are now likely to take effect in the coming weeks. The majority of changes to the dual-use items list, found in Annex I of Regulation 428/2009, were agreed at the 2017 Plenary of the Wassenaar Arrangement. The full list of changes is available here.

EU upholds Egypt sanctions listings of former President Mubarak

CJEU1The EU General Court has upheld the 2017 and 2018 Egypt sanctions listings (targeting the misappropriation of State funds) of the former President of Egypt, Mohamed Hosni Elsayed Mubarak. See judgment: T-358/17 (12 December 2018) and Press Release.

The Court rejected Mr Mubarak’s arguments that there was no legal basis for his listings, that the Egyptian judicial proceedings did not respect his fundamental rights, and that the EU had infringed rights of the defence and the principle of proportionality.

Last month (22 November), the same Court rejected, on similar grounds, the 2016 and 2017 Egypt sanctions listings of Mohamed Mubarak’s wife, Suzanne Thabet, as well as their sons, Gamal Mubarak and Alaa Mubarak, and their sons’ wives, Khadiga El Gammal and Heidy Rasekh (see previous blog).