The EU has published a notice for the attention of Mohamed and Amir Garrana, both listed on its sanctions against those said to have misappropriated Egyptian state funds, informing them that it holds new information on file concerning them. They may write to the Council to obtain the information relating to them before 13 February 2017.
The EU Council has notified all people listed on the EU’s sanctions on people said to have misappropriated Egyptian state funds that the Council holds new information concerning them on file, and that they may submit a request to the Council before 17 February 2017 to obtain the information relating to them. A link to the notice is here.
The Administrative Court in the UK has dismissed a claim for judicial review brought by Egyptian businessman Ahmed Ezz, which challenged the rationality of an HM Treasury decision on the release of his frozen funds for the payment of legal expenses in Egypt – R (on the application of Ezz) v HM Treasury  EWHC 1470 (Admin). Mr Ezz is subject to an asset freeze under the EU’s sanctions on Egypt (see previous blog), for allegedly misappropriating public funds. The decision at issue was to assess the reasonableness of the legal fees charged by Mr Ezz’s Egyptian lawyers by taking the maximum London legal rates and converting them to a reasonable rate in Egypt via the IMF’s purchasing power parity (PPP) ratio. The ratio compares the relative costs of living in different countries, and in this way HM Treasury reduced the maximum daily rate payable for appearing in court from £15,000 in the UK to $5,790.98.
The Court found that, in accordance with general principles of interpreting EU law, the derogation from the asset freeze under the EU’s Egypt sanctions for payment of legal expenses must be interpreted restrictively. It said that this was particularly so given that the objective of the sanctions was to recover misappropriated public funds, which would allegedly be undermined were Mr Ezz’s application successful. It noted that HM Treasury had been generous in using the maximum daily rate in London as its starting point, and that the “reasonable” fees allowed by the EU did not necessarily mean the highest legal fees payable. The Court concluded by saying that it was not unreasonable for HM Treasury to use the PPP conversion ratio, even though the cost of legal services in Egypt may not be perfectly reflected by a ratio based on general living expenses.
The EU has renewed its targeted sanctions relating to Egypt for 1 year, until 22 March 2017. The sanctions impose asset freezes on 19 people said to be subject to “judicial proceedings” by the Egyptian authorities for being involved in the “misappropriation of state funds” (including former President Mubarak). See blog on the related Ezz judgment here.
The renewing measures are Decision (CFSP) 2016/411 amending Decision 2011/172/CFSP. The EU’s notice to the listed people (here) informs them that they may ask the Council before 15 December 2016 to request that their inclusion on the sanctions list be reconsidered, and may seek licenses to use frozen funds.
The EU has published a notice saying that it is considering renewing all of the listings on its targeted sanctions relating to Egypt, which freezes the assets of those said to be responsible for misappropriating State funds. Listed people have until 19 February 2016 to request the information the EU Council holds on them on its file, and any observations received before 29 February will be taken into account as part of the Council’s periodic review of its Egypt sanctions regime.
On 21 March 2015, the EU Council extended its restrictive measures in view of the situation in Egypt until 22 March 2016. Under the measures, listed individuals and entities are subject to an EU-wide asset freeze.
The current EU sanctions were introduced in March 2011, following the EU’s announcement of its support for Egypt’s transition to a civilian and democratic government, and target those allegedly responsible for the misappropriation of Egyptian state assets.
The European Court of Justice (the appeals court in Luxembourg) has handed down its judgment in the appeal brought by Ahmed Ezz and 3 of his spouses (Abla Ahmed, Khadiga Yassin and Shahinaz al Naggar) against the General Court’s judgment refusing to annul their Egyptian sanctions listings (see previous blog). The ECJ has rejected their appeals, in Case C-220/14P Ezz & Ors v Council (5 March 2015).
They were all listed on the EU’s sanctions directed at people / entities responsible for misappropriating Egyptian State funds in March 2011 on the grounds that they are “Persons subject to judicial proceedings by the Egyptian authorities in respect of the misappropriation of State Funds on the basis of the United Nations Convention against corruption”. Note that the EU’s sanctions relating to Ukraine and Tunisia are also phrased in this way.
The ECJ has upheld the General Court’s judgment, holding that the Council had the legal power to impose these measures (which are designed to assist the Egyptian authorities to have misappropriated assets returned), that they are not a disproportionate restriction on the appellants’ fundamental rights to respect for their property or on their freedom to conduct their businesses, and did not breach their rights of defence.
The ECJ found that the General Court had correctly interpreted the listing criterion “responsible for misappropriating State funds” as not requiring a criminal conviction. The appellants pointed to the narrower phrasing of the designation criteria in non-English versions of the Decision appearing to require that individuals have a criminal conviction for misappropriation of state assets before they can be listed. The Court agreed with the General Court’s preference for the broader English version that permits inclusion of the following 5 categories of people:
1) Individuals found guilty of misappropriation of State funds following judicial proceedings.
2) Those found to be their “accomplices” after a criminal trial.
3) People being “prosecuted” for misappropriation of State funds.
4) Those prosecuted for being their accomplices / associates.
5) People subject to “judicial proceedings connected to criminal proceedings for misappropriation of Egyptian State funds”.
The ECJ also held that the General Court had not erred in considering that the appellants fall into the 5th category, given the evidence of investigations and asset seizures provided by the Egyptian prosecutor. The ECJ declared a number of the appellants’ arguments inadmissible on the grounds that they had not been raised before the General Court or did not identify a particular passage of the General Court’s judgment.
The European Union has decided to renew its sanctions (restrictive measures) relating to Iran and to Egypt.
The Council of the EU has published a notice on 15 March 2014 informing people and companies listed in Regulation 267/2012 and another notice for those listed on Regulation 359/2011 that measures against them continue to apply, and that they may submit a request to reconsider that decision before 15 April 2014.
The Council of the EU has also just published a new Decision extending its sanctions relating to Egypt until 22 March 2015, and a notice for those listed in Council Regulation (EU) No 270/2011 informing them that they may submit a request to the Council for reconsideration before 30 January 2015.
The Iran and Egypt sanctions are on the ‘sanctions in force’ section of this blog.