Rami Makhlouf unsuccessful in EU Syria sanctions appeal

CJEU1The Court of Justice of the EU has dismissed Rami Makhlouf’s appeal against the General Court’s judgment which had dismissed his application to annul his EU Syria sanctions listing, finding no errors in the judgment below. Link to blog on lower court judgment here and appeal judgment here.

5 Russians and 3 Syrians indicted for conspiracy to violate US sanctions on Syria and Crimea/Ukraine

US Department of State.jpgThe US Department of Justice has announced that 8 businessmen – 5 Russian nationals and 3 Syrian nationals – have been indicted on federal charges for conspiracy to violate US sanctions against Syria and Crimea/Ukraine; namely, by sending jet fuel to Syria and making US dollar wires to Syria and to sanctioned entities (in the absence of a US licence).

The indictment involves transactions conducted by Joint Stock Company Sovfracht (Sovfracht), a Russian shipping company and freight forwarder, which was designated by OFAC in September 2016 for Crimean sanctions violations. The 5 Russian nationals – Ivan Okorokov, Ilya Loginov, Karen Stepanyan, Alexey Konkov and Liudmila Shmelkova – are employees of Sovfracht. Yaser Naser is a Syrian national who worked on behalf of Sovfracht in Syria to coordinate its business there. Farid Bitar and Gabriel Bitar are petroleum inspectors at Port Banias, Syria.

Third countries align with EU’s Ukraine and Syria sanctions

EU6On 14 May 2018, the EU adopted Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/706, which added 5 people to its targeted sanctions on those said to be responsible for undermining the territorial integrity of Ukraine, namely, for being involved in the “organisation of the Russian presidential elections of 18 March 2018 in the illegally annexed Crimea and Sevastopol” (previous blog). The EU announced yesterday that Montenegro, Albania, Norway and Ukraine have aligned themselves with that Decision. EU press release here.

On 28 May 2018, the EU adopted Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/778, which extended its Syria sanctions until 1 June 2019 (previous blog). The EU announced yesterday that Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Moldova and Georgia have aligned themselves with that Decision. EU press release here.

EU 2nd re-listing of Syrian businessman Kaddour was lawful

CJEU1The EU General Court has upheld Khaled Kaddour’s 2016 re-listing: Kaddour v Council T-461/16.

On 13 November 2014, the EU General Court annulled his original listing on the basis that the Council had failed to provide evidence to support the claim that he had maintained a professional link with Maher Al-Assad or provided financial support to the Syrian regime (previous blog). The Court then upheld his 2015 re-listing (previous blog) (and now his 2016 re-listing too) because the Court said the Council had now provided “a body of precise and consistent evidence” capable of demonstrating that the applicant still had links with certain key figures of the Syrian regime.

EU Syrian sanctions renewed

The EU has extended its sanctions against Syria until 1 June 2019, in view of the “continuing repression of the civilian population of Syria”. They were also updated to remove two deceased individuals. See Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/774, Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/778, and EU statement here.

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.

OFAC sanctions Syria-based ‘human smuggling organisation’

OFAC3.jpgYesterday, OFAC designated Syrian national Nasif Barakat and the Syria-based Barakat Transnational Criminal Organisation (TCO) pursuant to Executive Order 13581 (asset freezes imposed). The Barakat TCO is said to be a “human smuggling organisation… that facilitates the smuggling of Syrian and Lebanese nationals to the United States border”. Mr Barakat was designated for being the organisation’s “leader”. OFAC Notice here, and US Treasury press release here. These are not chemical weapons-related designations.

Belgium prosecutes 3 companies for unlicensed chemical exports to Syria

Chemicals.jpgBelgian authorities have announced that 3 Flemish companies – AAE Chemie (Belgian chemical group), Anex Customs and Danmar Logistics (2 handling companies) – are being prosecuted for the unlicensed export of chemicals to Syria.

It is alleged that between May 2014 and December 2016, the 3 companies had shipped 24 deliveries to Syria (without an export licence), containing 168 tonnes of isopropanol, 219 tonnes of acetone, 77 tonnes of methanol, and 21 tonnes of dichloromethane. The trial is set to commence in Antwerp on 15 May 2018.