EU sanctions 5 people involved in Russian elections in Crimea/Sevastopol

Russia-EU.jpgThe EU has added 5 people to its targeted sanctions on those said to be responsible for undermining the territorial integrity of Ukraine (asset freezes and travel bans).

These people are included for being involved in the “organisation of the Russian presidential elections of 18 March 2018 in the illegally annexed Crimea and Sevastopol, thereby actively supporting and implementing policies that undermine the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine”. They are also said to “hold positions of responsibility in the electoral commissions of Crimea or Sevastopol”. The 5 new listed individuals are Inna Nikolayevna Guzeyeva, Natalya Ivanovna Bezruchenko, Aleksandr Yurevich Petukhov, Miroslav Aleksandrovich Pogorelov, and Anastasiya Nikolayevna Kapranova. See EU press release, Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/706 and Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/705.

OFAC replaces 2 Ukraine/Russia-related general licences

OFAC2In light of the recent US sanctions on a number of Russian oligarchs, government officials and entities (previous blog), OFAC has issued (1 May 2018) Ukraine/Russia-related General Licence 12B, which replaces and supersedes General Licence 12A. General Licence 12B now permits originating and intermediary US financial institutions to process funds transfers that they would otherwise block to an account held by a blocked US person at a US financial institution. The licence also clarifies that US financial institutions can release such funds for authorised maintenance and wind-down purposes.

OFAC has also issued Ukraine/Russia-related General Licence 13A, which replaces and supersedes General Licence 13. General Licence 13A extends the original term of General Licence 13 through to 5 June 2018 (previously 7 May), and authorises transactions and activities necessary to divest or transfer debt, equity or other holdings in EN+ Group, GAZ Group, or United Company RUSAL PLC. The licence also authorises such transactions in entities in which those persons own (directly or indirectly) a 50% or greater interest, provided that such debt, equity, or other holdings were issued by Irkutskenergo, GAZ Auto Plant, or Rusal Capital Designated Activity Company.

OFAC has also published 3 new FAQs and revised several existing FAQs. OFAC Notice here.

Re-listing of former Ukrainian PM Azarov was lawful

CJEU1.pngIn January 2016, the EU General Court annulled the 2014 designation of former Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov on the EU’s Ukraine targeted sanctions list, because the only basis for saying that he was “responsible for misappropriating Ukrainian state funds” (like the basis for many other listings) was a letter from Ukraine’s Prosecutor General (dated March 2014), which gave no details of the matters alleged against him or the nature of his alleged responsibility for the misappropriation of assets (previous blog).

In July 2017, the same Court upheld Mr Azarov’s 2015 re-listing because there was now sufficient evidence that he was “subject to criminal proceedings by the Ukrainian authorities for the misappropriation of public funds or assets” (previous blog). The Court has now upheld his 2016 re-listing too (which contained the same statement of reasons as his 2015 re-listing): Azarov v Council T-190/16.

Ukraine prepares for US-style sanctions on Russian oligarchs

Petro Poroshenko2.jpgUkraine’s President Petro Poroshenko has announced that draft measures are currently being prepared to align sanctions “as much as possible” with the recent US decision to designate a number of Russian oligarchs, government officials and entities (asset freezes and travels bans imposed) (previous blog here).

President Poroshenko has also announced that “to change the behaviour of Russia, it is necessary to ensure the maximum effect on sanctions”, which “is only possible if the European Union follows the example of the United States and the whole world synchronizes sanctions with them, especially in the financial sphere”.

General Court Stavytskyi judgment defining misappropriation of state funds in Ukraine sanctions

CJEU1Edward Stavytskyi, former Minister for Energy and the Coal Industry of Ukraine, was listed on the EU’s March 2014 sanctions imposing an EU asset freeze on people said to be responsible for the misappropriation of Ukrainian state funds. Like everyone else on that list, Mr Stavytskyi was included for being a person under investigation in Ukraine for “involvement in crimes in connection with the embezzlement of Ukrainian state funds and their illegal transfer outside Ukraine”. Like a number of others, he successfully challenged his initial listing in Case T-486/14 (see previous blog here) because the sole basis for his inclusion at that time was a letter from March 2014 from Ukraine’s Prosecutor General which provided no details of what was alleged against him.

The EU General Court has rejected his challenge to his re-listing in Case T-242/16. The Court has said that the reasons given for his inclusion were sufficiently specific, the criteria for designating individuals in these measures has a proper legal basis when properly interpreted, and that the documents from the Ukrainian authorities now contained sufficient information about the allegations. The judgment has interesting passages defining the concept of misappropriation of state funds for these purposes.

Ukraine sanctions warning in Russian election process

Petro Poroshenko.jpgUkraine President Petro Poroshenko has said that Ukraine will not recognise the “fake presidential elections” in the Russian occupied areas of Ukraine, and that sanctions will be imposed against those involved in the organisation of the electoral process. He has called upon the EU to take similar action.

EU continues Russia “territorial integrity” sanctions

EU6.jpgThe EU has prolonged its sanctions on Russia for “actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine” for a further 6 months, until 15 September 2018. These measures consist of asset freezes and travels restrictions on 150 people and 38 entities. See Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/392 and Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/388. EU press release here.

Last week, the EU extended until 6 March 2019 its asset freezes on 13 individuals “responsible for the misappropriation of Ukrainian state funds or for the abuse of office causing a loss to Ukrainian public funds” (see previous blog here).

EU & US extend Russia-Ukraine sanctions by 1 year

Ukraine-Russia.jpgToday, the EU extended until 6 March 2019 the asset freezes against 13 individuals “responsible for the misappropriation of Ukrainian state funds or for the abuse of office causing a loss to Ukrainian public funds”. Two people were also removed from the list: Olena Leonidivna Lukash and Serhii Petrovych Kliuiev. See Council Decision (CFSP) 2018/333 and Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/326. EU press release here, and UK OFSI Notice here.

Last week, the US decided to extend its Russia-Ukraine sanctions for another year, namely, the measures adopted under Executive Orders 13660, 13661, 13662 and 13685. White House press release here.