World Chess Federation’s Swiss accounts frozen over US Syria sanctions

Chess.jpgThe World Chess Federation has announced that its Swiss UBS bank accounts have been closed after its president, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, had sanctions imposed by OFAC on 25 November 2015, pursuant to Executive Order 13582, for “materially assisting and acting for or on behalf of” previously designated entities and individuals, including the Government of Syria and the Central Bank of Syria (links for Mr. Ilyumzhinov’s  SDN entry and the Treasury press release).

EU intends to amend reasons for listing 4 under Syria sanctions

EU4.jpgThe EU has notified 4 people appearing under its Syria sanctions regime (Ali Ayyub, Fahd Jasim, Mohammed Ramez Tourjman and Ahmad al-Hamu) that it intends to amend the statements of reasons for their respective listings. The EU Notice explains that they may submit a request to obtain the intended statements of reasons before 12 February 2018.

New international partnership on commitment to sanction proliferators of chemical weapons

Paris1.jpgFollowing a conference in Paris yesterday, 24 countries and the High Representative of the EU (Federica Mogherini), have agreed to sign the International Partnership against Impunity for the Use of Chemical Weapons. This new Partnership aims to prevent, and hold accountable, those responsible for the use of chemical weapons. As a result, the participating states have committed themselves to a number of principles, in particular, to “use relevant mechanisms to designate individuals, entities, groups and governments involved in the proliferation or use of chemical weapons for sanctions”, and to “publicize [their] names… through a dedicated website”. The US has stated that “the Partnership supports and complements existing organizations and mechanisms, including the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)”, see press release here.

Prior to the Partnership being signed, France sanctioned a total of 17 people and entities (based mostly in Beirut, Damascus and Paris) for alleged links with chemical weapons in Syria (list here). As a result, asset freezes have been imposed for a period of 6 months. According to a French foreign ministry aide, no members of the Syrian government are on the list because “we don’t have enough information to enable us to take this up to the political level in Syria”.

LafargeHolcim and GBL offices raided by French and Belgian authorities over Syrian payments

LafargeHolcim has agreed to sell ist Lafarge IndiaFrench and Belgian authorities have raided cement-making company LafargeHolcim and its shareholder GBL as part of an investigation into payments allegedly made to terrorist groups in Syria (including sanctioned entities). Click here for a press release issued by GBL.

The French Public Prosecutor’s Office began investigating the allegations in June 2016. In March 2017, an internal investigation at LafargeHolcim revealed evidence that its employees had paid third parties to arrange security with armed groups, including sanctioned parties, in order to protect the company’s plant in Northern Syria. In June 2017, France launched a judicial inquiry into LafargeHolcim’s activities in Syria (see previous blog here).

3 people plead guilty to illegal exports from USA to Syria

Syrian Air.jpgLast week 3 people pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud  and exporting prohibited articles to Syria in violation of US export control laws, in the District Court for the Southern District of Florida. Aviation parts and equipment are alleged to have been exported without a licence to Syrian Arab Airlines (Syrian Air), the Syrian Government’s airline, which had been listed as an SDN by OFAC for transporting weapons and ammunition to Syria in conjunction with Hizballah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. The defendants are to be sentenced on 19 December. For the US Department of Justice press release, click here.

Australia adds to its autonomous sanctions on Syria

Australia has added 40 people and 14 entities to its sanctions against Syria, which impose asset freezes and travel bans.  The new listings target those said to be linked to the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons programme by association with Syria’s Scientific Studies and Research Centre (SSRC), the government body responsible for developing and producing chemical and biological weapons. The US targeted people associated with the SSRC in April (see previous blog).

A total of 142 people and 42 entities are now sanctioned under Australia’s autonomous sanctions on Syria.  The Australian foreign ministry’s press release is here, and a full list of people and entities subject to the sanctions is here.

EU adds 16 people to Syria sanctions

The EU has sanctioned 16 more people on its Syria regime, for their role in the development and use of chemical weapons against the civilian population.  The new listings are of 8 high-ranking military officials and 8 scientists, and bring the total number of people listed under the sanctions, which impose an EU asset freeze and travel ban, to 255. It has also amended the statements of reasons for Saji Darwish and the Centre d’etudes et de recherches syrien (notice here).

See Implementing Regulation 2017/1327 implementing Regulation 36/2012 and Implementing Decision 2017/1341 implementing Decision 2013/255/CFSP. The EU’s notice to the newly listed people is here.

When can EU court applicants challenge re-listings? AG opinion in HX appeal

HX was included in the EU’s Syria sanctions in 2014. Advocate General Kokott (the German Advocate General at the Court of Justice) has given her opinion in HX’s EJ appeal. See Opinion in Case C-423/16 P HX v Council and previous blog on the case here.

In the AG’s view, the General Court had been unduly formalistic and should have permitted HX to modify his application at the oral hearing to challenge his 2015 as well as 2014 listing (the Court had refused the modification because he made the application orally and not in a document). However, since all the 2015 listing did was extend the 2014 listing (which had been annulled in any case) by a year, HX had not been disadvantaged by the General Court’s decision.