EU updates several listings under DRC sanctions

drc-1-kinshasaThe EU has updated the identifying information for 21 people and 1 entity listed on its sanctions on the Democratic Republic of Congo, in line with changes made by the UN to its own listings in October last year.  See Implementing Regulation 2017/199 implementing Regulation 1183/2005 and Implementing Decision 2017/203 implementing Decision 2010/788/CFSP.  The EU’s notices to the persons in question are here and here.

EU & UK foreign ministers reaffirm commitment to Russia sanctions

federica-mogherini-1EU foreign ministers have reaffirmed their commitment to continuing sanctions against Russia until it complies with its obligations under the Minsk peace agreements.  The G7 nations also took this position when they met in May last year (see previous blog).

Speaking today, the EU’s High Representative Federica Mogherini said that although she “cannot say where the US administration stands on this…I can say where the Europeans stand on this”.  Setting out the UK’s position, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson stated that “The UK will be insisting that there is no case for the relaxation of the sanctions, every case for keeping up the pressure on Russia”.

UN High Level Review of Sanctions

un-logo-1The ongoing  High Level Review of UN Sanctions (HLR) has asked for contributions in February 2017 from the private sector and state representatives in particular on the following proposals relating to benefits and costs of UN sanctions on businesses:

  1. Companies worldwide require clear and practical information about the objectives of UN sanctions.
  2. High implementation costs and non-transparent implementation requirements can impose high compliance costs on private sector actors.
  3. More  technical guidance is needed from the UN with  respect to steps companies should take to be compliant with all UN sanctions regimes.
  4. Companies require industry-specific, and geographically relevant information about commonly observed evasion strategies, and other deceptive means with which sanctions violators often implicate innocent private sector actors.
  5. Companies need to know about unfair competitive advantages and corrupt practices by sanctions violators and be protected against related costs and challenges from competitors operating from jurisdictions that tend to tolerate sanctions violations.

The high level review is open to observations on other concerns too, relating to UN sanctions.  Please email for a briefing paper and information on ways to make contributions.

New US targeted Iran sanctions

thum-0e213ce3a7c1af8c9007-1523The US Treasury department today added 13 people and 12 companies to its sanctions list, freezing their assets under US control. The White House spokesman, said the sanctions were a “very, very strong stand against the actions Iran has taken”; Iran tested a ballistic missile a few days ago. The new listings are here.  Among those sanctioned are those the US Treasury says support a trade network run by Iranian businessman Abdollah Asgharzadeh who is said to support Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, a subsidiary of an Iranian entity said to run Iran’s ballistic missile programme, and a Lebanon-based network run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

A few hours before they were announced, President Trump tweeted: “Iran is playing with fire. They don’t appreciate how ‘kind’ President Obama was to them. Not me!” Iran’s foreign ministry, in a statement on Friday, said the US sanctions were “illegal” and “illegitimate” and said Iran would consider imposing restrictions on American entities and individuals who “have created and helped terrorist groups . . . and killings and suppression of defenseless civilians” in the Middle East.

OFAC licences certain incidental transactions with Russia’s FSB

fsb-building-1OFAC has issued a general licence authorising US companies to request and pay for licences from Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) for the export of certain IT products to Russia.  A link to the new licence is here.

The FSB is responsible for authorising the import of electronic goods with encryption functions into Russia.  A prohibition on transacting with the FSB, imposed in response to Russia’s alleged involvement in hacking related to the US election, was therefore having the unintended consequence of preventing US companies from exporting certain IT products to Russia.  The exports themselves must still be licenced by the Bureau of Industry and Security, and payments to the FSB for licences must not exceed $5,000 per annum.

House of Lords report on due process and EU sanctions

houses-of-parliament-1The House of Lords EU Justice Sub-Committee has published a report on the legality of the EU sanctions listing procedure (link here).  The purpose of its inquiry was to understand why EU targeted sanctions were being struck down by the EU courts, and whether improvements could be made to the sanctions listing process.

The committee heard evidence (written and oral) from Maya Lester QC of this blog, Senior Legal Adviser to the EU Council Michael Bishop, and three Foreign & Commonwealth Office officials, including the Deputy Head of International Organisations Mathew Findlay. Our previous blog on the inquiry is here.

The report’s recommendations are that:

  1. The EU should codify the standard of proof it applies when it adopts sanctions listings, for the sake of transparency and consistency.
  2. The EU Council should ensure that listings are better substantiated and bear in mind the need for an effective remedy before re-listing successful applicants.
  3. The EU should ensure that it has robust but fair procedures to allow the EU courts to assess confidential evidence underpinning sanctions listings.
  4. The UK Government and EU Council should consider whether to appoint an Ombudsperson for sanctions listings.
  5. The time taken for the EU Council to respond to correspondence from listed people and companies should be reduced as a matter of urgency, in particular cases of mistaken identity.
  6. The Government should provide open-source information justifying sanctions listings to select committees, to allow for effective scrutiny.
  7. The UK should remain able to align itself with EU sanctions post-Brexit, and legislate to this effect.

NatWest resumes banking for RT news channel

natwest-1In October 2016, UK bank NatWest informed state-owned Russian news channel RT (formerly Russia Today) that it would no longer be providing it with banking services in the UK.  NatWest is now reported to have changed its position, following discussions with RT.

EU renews all autonomous counter-terrorism listings

eu-council-1The EU Council has reviewed and decided to continue all of the listings under the EU’s autonomous counter-terrorism sanctions regime, which targets people and groups said to be involved in terrorism around the world, including Hamas, Hizballah, and FARC (the sanctions against FARC were suspended in September 2016, see previous blog).  These sanctions are a separate regime from the regime targeting ISIL & Al-Qaida, which since 20 September last year has also allowed the EU to impose its own listings, whereas previously it could only implement UN or individual Member State listings (see previous blog).

See Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/150 implementing Regulation 2580/2001 and repealing Implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/1127 and Decision 2017/154 updating Common Position 2001/931/CFSP and repealing Decision (CFSP) 2016/1136.  The EU’s notices to listed people and entities are here and here.  Listed people and entities may submit a request to the Council at any time that the decision to list them be reconsidered.  In order for their requests to be considered at the next review, they should be submitted by 24 March 2017.