The General Court of the European Union has recently annulled the designations of Iranian banks Sina Bank and Bank Mellat on the EU Iranian sanctions list. Now Bank Saderat Iran has won its case, although it remains on the EU list for now; Case T-494/10 Bank Saderat Iran v Council (5 February 2013).
The judgment is similar to last week’s judgment in the Bank Mellat case in some respects: the Court rejected similar arguments made by the Council and Commission that the Bank was not entitled to rely on fundamental rights because it is partly State owned, and because it was listed because it was part of a “category” rather than because of its own conduct. And as in Bank Mellat, the Court said if the Council is going to rely on listing proposals by Member States as its evidence, it must give access to its file and disclose them to applicants in good time to enable them to respond (which it did not do here).
The Court found that one of the reasons given for designating the Bank was “excessively vague” because it gave no details of the entities on whose behalf the Bank was alleged to have provided financial services. It also found that the Council had failed to undertake its own checking of the “relevance and validity” of the evidence against the Bank, illustrated by the fact that it had not checked the accuracy of the Bank’s share capital (the sanctions say the Bank is 95% owned by the Iranian State when in fact the State is a minority shareholder).
There are three particularly interesting features of the judgment:
Maya Lester QC is a senior barrister (Queen’s Counsel) at Brick Court Chambers with a wide-ranging practice in public law, European law, competition law, international law, human rights & civil liberties. She has a particular expertise in sanctions. The legal directories say she is the...See profile for Maya Lester QC >