EU Court upholds Mr Ezz’s Egypt sanctions listings

CJEU1In March 2015, the EU Court of Justice dismissed the appeal brought by Ahmed Ezz and 3 of his spouses (Abla Salama, Khadiga Yassin and Shahinaz al Naggar) against the General Court’s judgment refusing to annul their initial listings on the EU’s Egypt misappropriation sanctions (see previous blog).

The General Court has now dismissed the applicants’ action to annul their 2015, 2016 and 2017 renewed designations – see Ezz and Others v Council T-288/15 (27 September 2018). The Court rejected the submission that the Council had erred in its assessment of the evidence relating to political and judicial developments that had occurred since their original designations in 2011 which sought to establish infringements by the Egyptian authorities of the rule of law and fundamental rights in legal proceedings in Egypt. The applicants are no longer subject to EU sanctions since March 2018 (see previous blog).

Third countries align with EU’s Syria, Libya, Egypt and Bosnia sanctions

EU2On 19 March 2018, the EU adopted, firstly, Council Implementing Decision (CFSP) 2018/421, which added 4 people to its Syria sanctions list (previous blog), and, secondly, Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/459, which extended for 1 year its Bosnia and Herzegovina sanctions (previous blog). In relation to the Syria Decision, the EU has announced that Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia have aligned themselves with that measure. In relation to the Bosnia and Herzegovina Decision, the EU has announced that Turkey, Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Georgia have aligned themselves with that measure.

On 21 March 2018, the EU adopted, firstly, Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/476, which extended for 6 months its Libya sanctions against 3 people (previous blog), and, secondly, Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/466, which extended for 1 year its Egypt sanctions and removed 6 people from that list (previous blog). The EU has announced that Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia have aligned themselves with both of those Decisions. EU press releases here and here.

EU renews Egypt sanctions for 1 year; de-lists 6 people

EU5.jpgThe EU has renewed its Egypt asset-freezing sanctions list for 1 year until 22 March 2019.

It has also removed 6 people from that list (without giving reasons), namely: Ahmed Abdelaziz Ezz; Abla Mohamed Fawzi Ali Ahmed Salama; Khadiga Ahmed Ahmed Kamel Yassin; Shahinaz Abdel Aziz Abdel Wahab Al Naggar; Ahmed Alaeldin Amin Abdemaksoud Elmaghraby; and Naglaa Abdallah El Gazaerly. The statement of reasons concerning 4 listed individuals have also been amended.

See Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/466 and Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/465. EU Notice here.

US designates leader of Hamas and 3 entities as global terrorists

US Treasury BuildingThe US Department of State has designated 1 person and 3 entities as Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs), pursuant to section 1(b) of Executive Order 13224 (asset freezes imposed). That Executive Order imposes sanctions on foreign persons determined to have committed, or pose a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of US nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the US.

The designated person, Ismail Haniyeh, is alleged to be the leader and president of the Political Bureau of Hamas; an entity designated in 1997 as a Foreign Terrorist Organisation, and in 2001 as an SDGT. He is stated as having “close links with Hamas’ military wing” and for being “a proponent of armed struggle, including against civilians”. Furthermore, there are reports that he has been involved in “terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens”.

The 3-designated entities are: Harakat al-Sabireen (alleged to be an Iranian backed terrorist group operating primarily in Gaza and the West Bank); Liwa al-Thawra (alleged to be a terrorist group active in the Qalyubia and Monofeya governorates of Egypt); and Harakat Sawa’d Misr (HASM) (alleged to be a terrorist group also active in Egypt). Links here for OFAC Notice and Department of State press release.

EU renews all listings under Tunisia sanctions regime

Tunisia1.jpgThe EU has renewed the listings of all persons and entities (and amended one entry) under its Tunisia sanctions list until 31 January 2019, namely, all those appearing in the Annex to Council Decision 2011/72/CFSP (as amended by Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/141) and in Annex I to Council Regulation (EU) 101/2011 (as implemented by Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/137). The EU Notice explains that those affected may submit a request to the EU Council for a reconsideration of the decision before 31 October 2018. The EU announced its intention to renew these restrictive measures on 8 December 2017 (previous blog here).

The EU has also published a Notice notifying 3 people listed under its Egypt sanctions list that it holds “new elements” relating to their designation, and that it intends to amend the statement of reasons in relation to 2 of them. The Notice explains that the affected persons may submit a request to the EU Council to obtain the new information before 2 February 2018.

EU holds new information on 2 people listed on Egypt sanctions

egypt-cairo-2The 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.

EU new information about people listed on Egypt sanctions

egypt-cairo-1The 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.

UK Court dismisses sanctions funding judicial review

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 [2016] 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.