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LE MONDE.FR “UKRAINE : LE TRIBUNAL DE L’UNION EUROPÉENNE ANNULE LES SANCTIONS VISANT ANDREY PORTNOV”

Le tribunal de l’Union européenne, à Luxembourg, a décidé d’annuler les sanctions visant, depuis mars 2014, les fonds d’Andrey Portnov, un conseillerdu président ukrainien déchu Viktor Ianoukovitch. Le Conseil européen avait décidé de bloquer les avoirs de M. Portnov en raison du lancement à son encontre, par les nouvelles autorités de Kiev, d’une enquête pénale sur des détournements de fonds publics et leur transfert hors d’ukraine. Il avait demandé à la justice européenne l’annulation de son inscription sur la liste des sanctions.

Le tribunal lui a donné raison, estimant que la base de l’accusation portée contre lui (une lettre du 3 mars 2014 du procureur général d’Ukraine) était insuffisante. Les juges luxembourgeois ont estimé que les éventuelles responsabilités de M. Portnov n’étaient pas établies. Le Conseil avait d’ailleurs décidé lui-même de radier l’intéressé de sa liste des sanctions en mars 2015.

Décision du Conseil désavouée

Une quinzaine d’autres recours ont été introduits par des responsables ukrainiens – et une dizaine par des Russes – suite aux décisions du Conseil en réponse à la crise ukrainienne et à l’annexion de la Crimée par la Russie. Des sociétés russes réclament également l’annulation des mesures qui les visent.

Contraint à la rapidité pour éviter que les personnes concernées anticipent les sanctions qui pourraient les viser, le Conseil est régulièrement désavoué par les juges de Luxembourg. Lesquels déplorent que les sources utilisées soient parfois peu fiables, impossibles à identifier, ou inexistantes.

Des décisions du Conseil ont été cassées dans divers autres dossiers liés à la lutte contre le terrorisme ou, récemment, à la Biélorussie. Le tribunal a notamment annulé une décision du Conseil visant le propriétaire et les sociétés détenant le club de football du Dynamo Minsk.

Concernant l’Ukraine, les juges de Luxembourg devraient rendre une série de décisions avant la fin de l’année. Elles pourraient être favorables à plusieurs requérants : les premières listes de sanctions ont parfois été décidées sur la base d’informations insuffisamment étayées.

Ukraine : le tribunal de l’Union européenne annule les sanctions visant Andrey Portnov
Le Monde.fr, 27.10.2015
http://www.lemonde.fr/europe/article/2015/10/27/ukraine-le-tribunal-de-l-union-europeenne-annule-les-sanctions-visant-andrey-portnov_4797933_3214.html

The wall street journal “EU Court Raises Fresh Doubts Over Bloc’s Sanctions”

BRUSSELS—The European Union’s second-highest court ruled Monday that the bloc had unfairly targeted a former top aide to ex-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych with an asset freeze in early 2014, saying there was little evidence at the time that Andriy Portnov was guilty of the allegations.

Mr. Portnov, a close adviser to Mr. Yanukovych, had already beendropped from the EU’s sanctions list in March of this year but had proceeded with the challenge in the EU’s General Court. He was one of 23 Ukrainians originally targeted with an EU asset freeze in March 2014 for alleged misappropriation of funds in the chaotic days after Mr. Yanukovych fled to Russia amid huge street protests.

There have long been concerns among EU officials about the legal strength of some of the sanction listings. In March, after diplomats complained that Kiev hadn’t provided enough evidence against some of the targets, the EU dropped several people from the list.

Monday’s ruling could have repercussions for some of the 17 people still targeted by the asset freeze, many of whom have lodged their own challenges in EU courts. The former president, still in Russia, and his surviving son are among those people.

The ruling could also make it harder for the EU to act swiftly in the future when governments collapse to prevent stolen funds from being taken abroad, diplomats said.

The European Council, the body which represents member states, said Monday it was studying the judgment and had no further comment at this stage. It could still appeal the decision. Ukraine’s presidential office and foreign ministry didn’t respond to a request for comment.

In Monday’s ruling, the court said the EU appeared to have acted in 2014 to freeze Mr. Portnov’s assets solely on the basis of a letter from Kiev’s Public Prosecutor stating its preliminary investigation had allowed it “to establish misappropriation of sizable amounts of State funds and the subsequent illegal transfer of these funds outside Ukraine.”

The court said the letter provided no details concerning the facts alleged against Mr. Portnov. Subsequent documentation was provided to the court. Nonetheless, the bloc itself decided in March there was too little evidence against him.

With the EU pressing Kiev to provide more evidence, Ukrainian prosecutors have in recent months launched criminal proceedings against most of the 17 people now left on the EU’s Ukraine corruption list. Two former ministers, Olena Lukash and Dmytro Tabachnyk, are still listed by the EU as being under investigation. Ms. Lukash’s husband was a former head of foreign intelligence in Ukraine.

In recent years, the EU has faced a range of legal defeats on its sanction decisions after cases lodged by Syrian and Iranian companies and people.

There are also pending challenges to EU sanctions decisions by Russian people and companies targeted because of the conflict in eastern Ukraine.

The court has frequently accused EU governments of failing to provide enough evidence to back up its decisions, although in a bid to address this, the European Court of Justice moved earlier this year to make it easier for capitals to share confidential evidence with its judges.

Diplomats said Monday’s ruling could make it harder for the EU in the future to move swiftly to prevent transfer of assets abroad when other regimes collapse. In addition to Ukraine’s crisis, the bloc moved rapidly in 2011 to prevent stolen funds from being moved out of Egypt when the Mubarak regime fell and out of Tunisia when the regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali collapsed.

Taking weeks to compile sufficient evidence to back up possible evidence of corruption could make it next to impossible to act effectively in the future. In the past, some of the court’s legal advisers have recognized that initially, a lower standard of evidence, can be provided in such cases even if subsequent decisions to roll over penalties need firmer backing.

EU Court Raises Fresh Doubts Over Bloc’s Sanctions
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, 26.10.2015
http://www.wsj.com/articles/eu-court-raises-fresh-doubts-over-blocs-sanctions-1445887443

Chicago Tribune “Ukrainians get their day in (European) court”

The associates of ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych were not exactly known for being sticklers for the law; when they were in power, they tended to make their own rules. European sanctions, however, turned them into eager litigants seeking to clear their reputations and regain access to their European assets and favorite vacation spots.

On Monday, the European Court of Justice upheld the petition of Andrei Portnov, formerly a senior member of Yanukovych’s staff, and lifted the asset freeze and travel ban imposed on him on March 5, 2014. The court pointed out that the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s request, on which the sanctions were based, incorrectly said he was subject to a “criminal procedure” for alleged embezzlement of government funds. That procedure had in fact been just a preliminary investigation that went nowhere and so not deemed a valid reason for an asset freeze.

The court decision orders the Council to pay Portnov’s legal costs, but is otherwise symbolic. The European Council had already taken him and three more Yanukovych associates off the sanctions list in March, after Ukraine had been unable to follow through on its accusations against them. The Portnov case, however, is unlikely to impact judgments in the cases of other Ukrainians still fighting sanctions — notably former Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and former tax minister Oleksandr Klymenko.

Both Klymenko and Azarov initially pursued a different strategy than Portnov. Their European lawyers convinced them to lobby the EU bureaucracy before going to the courts, arguing that sanctions against them were essentially political and it was necessary to build some goodwill before starting a legal fight. This went on for a year, and it’s not difficult to imagine the legal fees the hapless Ukrainians incurred from their self-imposed Moscow exile.

The lobbying campaign must have been frustrating. There wasn’t much sympathy for two obviously very wealthy individuals who had been government officials in a very poor and notoriously corrupt country. High-ranking European officials refused meetings; lower-ranked ones fudged. Klymenko vividly depicted the runaround in a professionally produced video on his YouTube channel.

Finally, in April and May 2015 Klymenko and Azarov did what Portnov, a lawyer by training, had done a year earlier: They applied to the European Court of Justice. The wording of their applications is identical. Like Portnov, they claim the Ukrainian government’s representations on which the sanctions are based are “too general,” the restrictions themselves “disproportionate” and their right to defend themselves violated.

Their chances, however, are slimmer than that of Portnov, who was not one of the Yanukovych regime’s more recognizable faces. Azarov and Klymenko are both household names among Ukraine’s Yanukovych-hating voters. They are also both politically ambitious, openly plotting a return to Kiev. It was no surprise that the Ukrainian prosecutors went further than just a preliminary investigation.

Klymenko has been charged in absentia with misappropriating about $30 million in government funds through a tax scam. Azarov is wanted on three different charges: abuse of power, misappropriation of state property and calling for a coup d’etat. It’s likely that upon the court’s request, Ukraine will supply more detail of the cases. The European judges will only need to see that there are indeed serious proceedings against the applicants to keep sanctions in place.

Klymenko and Azarov might decide to cut their losses, following the example of Arkady Rotenberg, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s long-time judo sparring partner and now a billionaire who built his fortune on government contracts. He was hit by sanctions last year after the EU took its cue from Washington and decided to make life difficult for Putin’s friends. In October, 2014, he filed an application — worded the same as the Ukrainians’ — to the European Court. Only a month later, however, he withdrew it, apparently sensing the futility of his efforts.

Apart from saving on legal fees, Rotenberg tacitly admitted the obvious, that sanctions are a quasi-legal manifestation of a political position. Late last year, the European Court ruled that the Palestinian organization Hamas be taken off the list of terrorist groups, but the triumph, which Hamas owed to procedural reasons, turned out to be short-lived. The EU kept the group on the list as it appealed the ruling. The appeal is expected to take more than a year, and after it runs its course, the EU can reinstate Hamas on the list by merely using a different formula. Reversing that would require another years- long process.

Klymenko and Azarov stand a better chance of getting off the sanctions list if they strike a political deal with the administration of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. That’s not impossible, given the confident performance of former Yanukovych allies in last Sunday’s local elections. In a number of regions, Poroshenko’s party chose not to fight them and even gave them conditional backing. Vesti, the Klymenko-controlled media organization in Kiev which publishes a popular newspaper and runs a radio station, recently changed its harsh anti- government political stance to a pro-Poroshenko one.

No one in Brussels is eager to exonerate the top officials of a regime widely seen to be corrupt and authoritarian. But sanctions require political will and the cooperation of authorities in Kiev. For the moment, they like keeping the Yanukovych cronies on the hook by continuing, but never quite concluding, the criminal investigations against them.

Ukrainians get their day in (European) court
Chicago Tribune, 27.10.2015
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/sns-wp-blm-ukraine-comment-bfaf253e-7cce-11e5-bfb6-65300a5ff562-20151027-story.html

Bloombergview “Ukrainians Get Their Day in (European) Court”

The associates of ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych were not exactly known for being sticklers for the law; when they were in power, they tended to make their own rules. European sanctions, however, turned them into eager litigants seeking to clear their reputations and regain access to their European assets and favorite vacation spots.

On Monday, the European Court of Justice upheld the petition of Andrei Portnov, formerly a senior member of Yanukovych’s staff, and lifted the asset freeze and travel ban imposed on him on March 5, 2014. The court pointed out that the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s request, on which the sanctions were based, incorrectly said he was subject to a “criminal procedure” for alleged embezzlement of government funds. That procedure had in fact been just a preliminary investigation that went nowhere and so not deemed a valid reason for an asset freeze.

The court decision orders the Council to pay Portnov’s legal costs, but is otherwise symbolic. The European Council had already taken him and three more Yanukovych associates off the sanctions list in March, after Ukraine had been unable to follow through on its accusations against them. The Portnov case, however, is unlikely to impact judgments in the cases of other Ukrainians still fighting sanctions — notably former Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and former tax minister Oleksandr Klymenko.

Both Klymenko and Azarov initially pursued a different strategy than Portnov. Their European lawyers convinced them to lobby the EU bureaucracy before going to the courts, arguing that sanctions against them were essentially political and it was necessary to build some goodwill before starting a legal fight. This went on for a year, and it’s not difficult to imagine the legal fees the hapless Ukrainians incurred from their self-imposed Moscow exile.

The lobbying campaign must have been frustrating. There wasn’t much sympathy for two obviously very wealthy individuals who had been government officials in a very poor and notoriously corrupt country. High-ranking European officials refused meetings; lower-ranked ones fudged. Klymenko vividly depicted the runaround in a professionally produced video on his YouTube channel.

Finally, in April and May 2015 Klymenko and Azarov did what Portnov, a lawyer by training, had done a year earlier: They applied to the European Court of Justice. The wording of their applications is identical. Like Portnov, they claim the Ukrainian government’s representations on which the sanctions are based are “too general,” the restrictions themselves “disproportionate” and their right to defend themselves violated.

Their chances, however, are slimmer than that of Portnov, who was not one of the Yanukovych regime’s more recognizable faces. Azarov and Klymenko are both household names among Ukraine’s Yanukovych-hating voters. They are also both politically ambitious, openly plotting a return to Kiev. It was no surprise that the Ukrainian prosecutors went further than just a preliminary investigation.

Klymenko has been charged in absentia with misappropriating about $30 million in government funds through a tax scam. Azarov is wanted on three different charges: abuse of power, misappropriation of state property and calling for a coup d’etat. It’s likely that upon the court’s request, Ukraine will supply more detail of the cases. The European judges will only need to see that there are indeed serious proceedings against the applicants to keep sanctions in place.

Klymenko and Azarov might decide to cut their losses, following the example of Arkady Rotenberg, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s long-time judo sparring partner and now a billionaire who built his fortune on government contracts. He was hit by sanctions last year after the EU took its cue from Washington and decided to make life difficult for Putin’s friends. In October, 2014, he filed an application — worded the same as the Ukrainians’ — to the European Court. Only a month later, however, he withdrew it, apparently sensing the futility of his efforts.

Apart from saving on legal fees, Rotenberg tacitly admitted the obvious, that sanctions are a quasi-legal manifestation of a political position. Late last year, the European Court ruled that the Palestinian organization Hamas be taken off the list of terrorist groups, but the triumph, which Hamas owed to procedural reasons, turned out to be short-lived. The EU kept the group on the list as it appealed the ruling. The appeal is expected to take more than a year, and after it runs its course, the EU can reinstate Hamas on the list by merely using a different formula. Reversing that would require another years- long process.

Klymenko and Azarov stand a better chance of getting off the sanctions list if they strike a political deal with the administration of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. That’s not impossible, given the confident performance of former Yanukovych allies in last Sunday’s local elections. In a number of regions, Poroshenko’s party chose not to fight them and even gave them conditional backing. Vesti, the Klymenko-controlled media organization in Kiev which publishes a popular newspaper and runs a radio station, recently changed its harsh anti- government political stance to a pro-Poroshenko one.

No one in Brussels is eager to exonerate the top officials of a regime widely seen to be corrupt and authoritarian. But sanctions require political will and the cooperation of authorities in Kiev. For the moment, they like keeping the Yanukovych cronies on the hook by continuing, but never quite concluding, the criminal investigations against them.

Ukrainians Get Their Day in (European) Court
BLOOMBERGVIEW, 27.10.2015
http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2015-10-27/ukrainians-get-their-day-in-european-court

Politico.EU “EU suffers major court defeat on Ukraine sanctions”

Judges rule that putting Andriy Portnov on blacklist was based on flimsy accusations.

The General Court of the European Union on Monday annulled European sanctions against a Ukrainian oligarch, harshly criticizing the evidence relied on by European countries and delivering a blow to the bloc’s fledgling sanctions regime.

The court struck down a March 2014 decision by the Council that froze the assets of Andriy Portnov and imposed an EU travel ban. The judges blasted the EU for relying solely on accusations from the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine, without corroborating the charges.

The letter from the prosecutor, the court noted, failed “to provide any details concerning either the facts alleged against Mr. Portnov or his responsibility in that regard.”

The ruling is more symbolic than anything because Portnov, an advisor to former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, was removed from the sanctions list in March. Still, the consequences of the ruling could be far-reaching.

Like Portnov, other blacklisted oligarchs have appealed to EU courts, complaining they have been sanctioned solely based on a recommendation from Ukraine’s public prosecutor.

One of them is Mykola Azarov, Ukraine’s prime minister from 2010-2014, who has challenged his inclusion on the EU sanctions list. His lawyer, Alexander Egger of the Austrian law firm Lansky, Ganzger + partner, said the ruling will have “consequences on other pending cases” and that the EU institutions needed to “study their cases more carefully.”

The EU’s sanctions regime is a major plank of its efforts to contain the Russian-inspired violence in eastern Ukraine.

The judgment could strain relations between Europe and the U.S. government.

The U.S. government is “increasingly concerned about weaknesses in the European sanctions mechanism,” Anthony Gardner, the U.S. ambassador to the EU, warned in July. In a speech earlier this year, Gardner expressed concern that Brussels had yet to develop “records that will withstand rigorous judicial scrutiny.”

The Council had justified including Portnov on the list last year by describing him as “subject to criminal proceedings in Ukraine … in connection with the embezzlement of Ukrainian state funds and their illegal transfer outside Ukraine.” But the court concluded Portnov was at the time only the subject of a preliminary investigation.

Monday’s judgment elicited praise from Oleksandr Klymenko, Yanukovych’s minister for taxation, who was also included on an EU sanctions list following accusations of embezzlement. He is appealing.

The Council “has relied solely on information from the Ukrainian Prosecutor General with no transparency, no evidence, no hearings, no due process, no presumption of innocence,” said Klymenko. He accused EU governments of “lending a hand to the political-cleansing of Ukraine by the current administration.”

Monday’s ruling is the latest in a string of defeats for the EU over sanctions. Judges have annulled sanctions leveled against Hamas, an EU-designated terrorist organization, the Tamil Tigers, a Sri Lankan militant group also listed as a terrorist organization, and, earlier this month, the Belarusian owners of Dynamo Minsk football club.

The Commission recalled that Portnov had been removed from the EU sanctions list in March and said it and the Council were “studying carefully the ruling.”

“They will reflect on the options open to them and will, in due course, decide on any appropriate remedial action,” said a Commission spokesperson.

EU suffers major court defeat on Ukraine sanctions
Politico.eu, 26.10.2015
http://www.politico.eu/article/eu-suffers-major-court-defeat-on-ukraine-sanctions/

Czech Republic: “Janukovyčův poradce neměl být na sankčním seznamu EU, rozhodl soud”

Poradce někdejšího ukrajinského prezidenta Viktora Janukovyče vyhrál právní bitvu s Evropskou unií. Tribunál Soudního dvora EU totiž v pondělí zrušil zařazení jména Andrije Portnova na unijní sankční seznam, kterým byl rok zmrazený jeho evropský majetek.

V reakci na vývoj ukrajinské krize z konce roku 2013 země EU loni na počátku března rozhodly o zmrazení financí a prostředků osob odpovědných za zneužívání ukrajinských peněz nebo za porušování lidských práv v zemi.

Portnov, podle dokumentu „bývalý poradce ukrajinského prezidenta” Viktora Janukovyče, byl na seznam zařazen s platností od 6. března 2014. Zdůvodněním bylo, že je proti němu vedeno trestní řízení v souvislosti se zneužitím ukrajinských prostředků a jejich nezákonným převodem do zahraničí.

Portnov se obrátil na evropský soud, z postižených přitom nebyl jediný, kdo tak učinil. Ještě před rozhodnutím ale bylo jeho jméno od 5. března 2015 ze seznamu vyškrtnuto.

Podle názoru soudu byl dotyčný na seznam zařazen jen na základě dopisu ukrajinského Nejvyššího státního zastupitelství, které informovalo, že je vůči němu vedeno vyšetřování. „Tento dopis nijak blíže neupřesňuje trestné činy vytýkané A. Portnovi ani jeho odpovědnost za ně,” upozornil v pondělí soud. Proto podle soudu zařazení Portnova na seznam neodpovídalo kritériím pro osoby, jejichž prostředky měly být zmrazeny.

Některé evropské sankce neuspěly

Mluvčí EU Maja Kocijančičová v reakci uvedla, že evropské instituce soudní rozhodnutí podrobně zkoumají a teprve poté rozhodnou o dalším postupu. „Jedná se o právní rozhodnutí soudu, není to politické rozhodnutí učiněné vládami zemí unie,” upozornila mluvčí.

Tento typ sankcí EU naposledy upravila letos na počátku června, kdy je o devět měsíců prodloužila třem osobám a o čtyři měsíce osobě čtvrté. Není to přitom poprvé, co evropské sankce nejrůznějšího typu u soudu neuspěly. Známý je případ z loňského prosince, kdy Soudní dvůr EU rozhodl kvůli formálním nedostatkům o dočasném vyřazení palestinského hnutí Hamas z unijního seznamu teroristických organizací.

Janukovyčův poradce neměl být na sankčním seznamu EU, rozhodl soud
Novinky.cz, 26.10.2015
http://www.novinky.cz/zahranicni/384598-janukovycuv-poradce-nemel-byt-na-sankcnim-seznamu-eu-rozhodl-soud.html

Reuters “Ukraine ex-adviser wins EU court case against sanctions”

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A former adviser to ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich scored a legal victory over the European Union on Monday when an EU court ruled that the bloc had been wrong to freeze his assets.

Andriy Portnov was placed for a year from March 2014 on an EU blacklist of people whose funds were frozen for misappropriation of state funds or human rights violations in Ukraine.

The ruling is the latest in a spate of victories for people under EU sanctions, including Iranian shipping companies, or those on a list of organizations it deems to be terrorist, such as Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.

Earlier this month, the court annulled sanctions on top Belarus soccer club Dinamo Minsk and its chairman, saying there was no evidence to show they supported President Alexander Lukashenko who has been accused of rights abuses.

The court said on Monday that Portnov’s inclusion on the Ukrainian list was based solely on a letter from the Ukrainian public prosecutor’s office that an investigation into Portnov and others had shown a sizeable misappropriation of state funds and their illegal transfer out of Ukraine.

“The Court considers that that letter fails to provide any details concerning either the facts alleged against Mr Portnov or his responsibility in that regard,” the EU court said.

An appeal can be made on points of law to the Court of Justice within two months.

Ukraine ex-adviser wins EU court case against sanctions
REUTERS, 26.10.2015
http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSKCN0SK1YJ20151026

Kingdom of Belgium: “Portnov blanchi. Une partie du dispositif de sanctions sur l’Ukraine s’écroule-t-il ?”

http://club.bruxelles2.eu/2015/10/une-partie-du-dispositif-de-sanctions-sur-lukraine-secoule/

Slovak Republic: “Janukovyčov poradca vyhral súd ohľadne sankcií EÚ”

Ukrajinec Andrij Portnov sa v marci 2014 dostal na jeden rok do zoznamu osôb, ktorým EÚ zmrazila účty za spreneveru.

Niekdajší poradca zosadeného ukrajinského prezidenta Viktora Janukovyča zvíťazil dnes v právnom spore s EÚ, ktorá na neho uvalila sankcie v podobe zmrazenia majetku. Súdny dvor EÚ mu dal za pravdu, že zo strany dvadsaťosmičky to bol chybný krok, informuje agentúra Reuters.

Ukrajinec Andrij Portnov sa v marci 2014 dostal na jeden rok do zoznamu osôb, ktorým EÚ zmrazila účty za spreneveru štátnych prostriedkov alebo porušovanie ľudských práv na Ukrajine.

Dnešné rozhodnutie je podľa Reuters ďalším z viacerých podobných víťazstiev, ktoré na súde dosiahli sankcionované lodné spoločnosti z Iránu alebo palestínska islamistická organizácia Hamas označovaná prívlastkom teroristická.

Súdny dvor EÚ tento mesiac anuloval taktiež sankcie voči bieloruskému futbalovému klubu Dinamo Minsk a jeho predsedovi, keďže podľa neho nie sú dôkazy, že by podporovali bieloruského prezidenta Alexandra Lukašenka obviňovaného z porušovania ľudských práv.

Janukovyčov poradca vyhral súd ohľadne sankcií EÚ

aktuality.sk, 26.10.2015

http://www.aktuality.sk/clanok/307013/janukovycov-poradca-vyhral-sud-ohladne-sankcii-eu/

Greece: “ΔΕΚ: Ακύρωση δέσμευσης κεφαλαίων πρώην συμβούλου του τέως Προέδρου της Ουκρανίας”

Ως απάντηση στην ουκρανική κρίση που άρχισε στα τέλη του 2013, το Συμβούλιο αποφάσισε, στις 5 Μαρτίου 2014, να δεσμεύσει τα κεφάλαια και τους οικονομικούς πόρους των προσώπων που έχουν αναγνωριστεί ως υπεύθυνα για υπεξαίρεση δημόσιου χρήματος και/ή για παραβιάσεις ανθρώπινων δικαιωμάτων στην Ουκρανία. Το όνομα του Andriy Portnov, τον οποίο το Συμβούλιο χαρακτήρισε ως «πρώην σύμβουλο του Προέδρου της Ουκρανίας [Viktor Ianoukovytch]», καταχωρίστηκε, για την περίοδο από τις 6 Μαρτίου 2014 έως τις 5 Μαρτίου 2015, στον κατάλογο των προσώπων κατά των οποίων επιβλήθηκε η δέσμευση κεφαλαίων με την εξής αιτιολογία: «Πρόσωπο εναντίον του οποίου κινήθηκε ποινική διαδικασία στην Ουκρανία σχετικά με τη διερεύνηση εγκλημάτων, σε σχέση με την υπεξαίρεση ουκρανικών κρατικών κεφαλαίων και την παράνομη μεταφορά τους εκτός Ουκρανίας». Ο Andriy Portnov ζήτησε από το Γενικό Δικαστήριο της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης την ακύρωση της καταχωρίσεως του ονόματός του. Εν τω μεταξύ, το όνομά του διαγράφτηκε από τον κατάλογο της 5 Μαρτίου 2015.

Με τη σημερινή απόφαση, το Γενικό Δικαστήριο δέχεται την προσφυγή του Andriy Portnov και ακυρώνει τη δέσμευση κεφαλαίων που του επιβλήθηκε.

Το Γενικό Δικαστήριο διαπιστώνει ότι το Συμβούλιο προσδιόρισε τον Andriy Portnov ως υπεύθυνο για υπεξαίρεση δημοσίου χρήματος της Ουκρανίας αποκλειστικά βάσει ενός εγγράφου της 3ης Μαρτίου 2014 του γραφείου του γενικού εισαγγελέα της Ουκρανίας, στο οποίο αναφέρεται ότι από την έρευνα που διεξήχθη, μεταξύ άλλων, σε βάρος του Andriy Portnov «αποδείχθηκε η υπεξαίρεση σημαντικών ποσών από κρατικά κεφάλαια και η παράνομη στη συνέχεια μεταφορά τους εκτός Ουκρανίας». Το Γενικό Δικαστήριο θεωρεί ότι το έγγραφο αυτό δεν παρέχει καμία διευκρίνιση όσον αφορά τα πραγματικά περιστατικά που προσάπτονται στον Andriy Portnov ούτε όσον αφορά την ευθύνη του.

Το Γενικό Δικαστήριο καταλήγει ότι η καταχώριση του ονόματος του Andriy Portnov στον κατάλογο δεν πληροί τα κριτήρια για την καταχώριση των προσώπων κατά των οποίων επιβάλλεται δέσμευση κεφαλαίων.

ΔΕΚ: Ακύρωση δέσμευσης κεφαλαίων πρώην συμβούλου του τέως Προέδρου της Ουκρανίας
Lawnet, 27.10.2015
http://www.lawnet.gr/news/dek-akurosi-desmeusis-kefalaion-proin-sumboulou-tou-teos-proedrou-tis-oukranias-35328.html

Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela: “Tribunal anula congelación de fondos de consejero de expresidente ucraniano”

Portnov, calificado por la UE de antiguo consejero de Yanukóvich, fue incluido en la lista de las personas sancionadas por estar sometido a un proceso penal en Ucrania para investigar delitos en relación con el fraude de fondos públicos y su transferencia ilegal fuera de ese país.

Bruselas. - El Tribunal General de la Unión Europea (UE) anuló este lunes la congelación de fondos de Andréi Portnov, antiguo consejero del expresidente de Ucrania Víktor Yanukóvich.

En respuesta a la crisis ucraniana que comenzó a finales de 2013, la UE decidió el 5 de marzo de 2014 congelar los fondos y recursos económicos de personas identificadas como responsables de apropiación indebida de fondos del Estado ucraniano o violaciones de los derechos humanos en Ucrania, reseñó Efe.

Portnov, calificado por la UE de antiguo consejero de Yanukóvich, fue incluido en la lista de las personas sancionadas por estar sometido a un proceso penal en Ucrania para investigar delitos en relación con el fraude de fondos públicos y su transferencia ilegal fuera de ese país.

Portnov solicitó al Tribunal General de la UE la anulación de su inclusión en la lista de sancionados.

Mediante la sentencia dictada hoy, el Tribunal General estima el recurso de Portnov y anula la congelación de fondos que se le impuso, por considerar que la UE le identificó como responsable de apropiación indebida de fondos del Estado ucraniano basándose únicamente en un escrito de la Fiscalía General de Ucrania.

Ésta indicó en su momento que la investigación iniciada, entre otras personas, contra Portnov ha permitido acreditar la apropiación indebida de fondos públicos en relación con importes considerables y su posterior transferencia ilegal fuera de Ucrania.

El Tribunal General considera no obstante que dicho escrito no aporta ninguna precisión sobre los hechos reprochados a Portnov ni sobre las responsabilidades de éste.

La corte europea deduce de ello que la inclusión del nombre de Portnov en esa lista negra no se ajusta a los criterios de designación de las personas sometidas a la congelación de fondos.

Tribunal anula congelación de fondos de consejero de expresidente ucraniano
EL UNIVERSAL, 26.10.2015
http://www.eluniversal.com/internacional/151026/tribunal-anula-congelacion-de-fondos-de-consejero-de-expresidente-ucra

Sultanate of Oman: “Ukrainians get their day in (European) court”

The associates of ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych were not exactly known for being sticklers for the law; when they were in power, they tended to make their own rules. European sanctions, however, turned them into eager litigants seeking to clear their reputations and regain access to their European assets and favourite vacation spots.

On Monday, the European Court of Justice upheld the petition of Andrei Portnov, formerly a senior member of Yanukovych’s staff, and lifted the asset freeze and travel ban imposed on him on March 5, 2014. The court pointed out that the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s request, on which the sanctions were based, incorrectly said he was subject to a “criminal procedure” for alleged embezzlement of government funds. That procedure had in fact been just a preliminary investigation that went nowhere and so not deemed a valid reason for an asset freeze.

The court decision orders the Council to pay Portnov’s legal costs, but is otherwise symbolic. The European Council had already taken him and three more Yanukovych associates off the sanctions list in March, after Ukraine had been unable to follow through on its accusations against them. The Portnov case, however, is unlikely to impact judgments in the cases of other Ukrainians still fighting sanctions — notably former prime minister Mykola Azarov and former tax minister Oleksandr Klymenko.

Both Klymenko and Azarov initially pursued a different strategy than Portnov. Their European lawyers convinced them to lobby the EU bureaucracy before going to the courts, arguing that sanctions against them were essentially political and it was necessary to build some goodwill before starting a legal fight. This went on for a year, and it’s not difficult to imagine the legal fees the hapless Ukrainians incurred from their self-imposed Moscow exile.

The lobbying campaign must have been frustrating. There wasn’t much sympathy for two obviously very wealthy individuals who had been government officials in a very poor and notoriously corrupt country. High-ranking European officials refused meetings, lower-ranked ones fudged.

Finally, in April and May 2015 Klymenko and Azarov did what Portnov, a lawyer by training, had done a year earlier: They applied to the European Court of Justice. The wording of their applications is identical. Like Portnov, they claim the Ukrainian government’s representations on which the sanctions are based are “too general,” the restrictions themselves “disproportionate” and their right to defend themselves violated.

Their chances, however, are slimmer than that of Portnov, who was not one of the Yanukovych regime’s more recognisable faces. Azarov and Klymenko are both household names among Ukraine’s Yanukovych-hating voters. They are also both politically ambitious, openly plotting a return to Kiev. It was no surprise that the Ukrainian prosecutors went further than just a preliminary investigation.

Klymenko has been charged in absentia with misappropriating about $30 million in government funds through a tax scam. Azarov is wanted on three different charges: Abuse of power, misappropriation of state property and calling for a coup d’etat. It’s likely that upon the court’s request, Ukraine will supply more detail of the cases. The European judges will only need to see that there are indeed serious proceedings against the applicants to keep sanctions in place.

Klymenko and Azarov might decide to cut their losses, following the example of Arkady Rotenberg, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s long-time judo sparring partner and now a billionaire who built his fortune on government contracts. He was hit by sanctions last year after the EU took its cue from Washington and decided to make life difficult for Putin’s friends. In October, 2014, he filed an application — worded the same as the Ukrainians’ — to the European Court. Only a month later, however, he withdrew it, apparently sensing the futility of his efforts.

Klymenko and Azarov stand a better chance of getting off the sanctions list if they strike a political deal with the administration of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. That’s not impossible, given the confident performance of former Yanukovych allies in last Sunday’s local elections. In a number of regions, Poroshenko’s party chose not to fight them and even gave them conditional backing. Vesti, the Klymenko-controlled media organisation in Kiev which publishes a popular newspaper and runs a radio station, recently changed its harsh anti- government political stance to a pro-Poroshenko one.

No one in Brussels is eager to exonerate the top officials of a regime widely seen to be corrupt and authoritarian. But sanctions require political will and the cooperation of authorities in Kiev. For the moment, they like keeping the Yanukovych cronies on the hook by continuing, but never quite concluding, the criminal investigations against them. – Bloomberg View

Ukrainians get their day in (European) court
Times of Oman, 30.10.2015
http://www.timesofoman.com/article/70664/Opinion/Columnist/European-sanctions-turned-associates-of-ousted-Ukrainian-president-Viktor-Yanukovychinto-eager-litigants-seeking-to-clear-their-reputations

Republic of Finland: “EU hävisi pakotelistan oligarkille oikeudessa”

Euroopan unionin yleinen tuomioistuin kumosi sanktiot Ukrainan oligarkki Andriy Portnovia vastaan, uutisoi Politico.

Pakotelistan oligarkki päihitti EU:n oikeudessa. (EPA)

Päätös on enemmän symbolinen, koska Portnov poistettiin EU:n pakotelistalta jo maaliskuussa. Asiantuntijoiden mukaan oikeuden päätöksellä voi kuitenkin olla kauaskantoisia seurauksia.

Andriy Portnovin varat jäädytettiin Euroopan neuvoston päätöksellä vuonna 2014. Nyt oikeus katsoi, että päätös kumotaan. Portnov oli myös mukana tutkinnassa, jossa Ukrainan valtion varoja oli siirretty Ukrainan ulkopuolelle. Tuomioistuin katsoi nyt, että oligarkki oli tuolloin ainoastaan esitutkinnan kohteena ja pakotelistalle joutumiseen oli “hatarat syyt”.

Muutkin oligarkit ovat vedonneet EU:n tuomioistuimeen, että sanktiot on määrätty vain Ukrainan yleisen syyttäjän suosituksen mukaan.

Andriy Portnovin vapauttava päätös voi rasittaa Euroopan ja Yhdysvaltain hallituksen välisiä suhteita.

Yhdysvaltojen on kerrottu olevan yhä huolestuneempia Euroopan “sanktiomekanismin heikkoudesta”, varoitti Yhdysvaltojen EU:n suurlähettiläs Anthony Gardner heinäkuussa.

Tehty päätös on viimeisin tappio EU:lle. Tuomarit kumosivat myös sanktiot sekä Sri Lankan militanttiryhmä Tamil Tigersilta ja aiemmin tässä kuussa Valko-Venäjän jalkapalloseura Dynamo Minskin omistajilta.

EU hävisi pakotelistan oligarkille oikeudessa
ILTALEHTI, 26.10,2015
http://www.iltalehti.fi/ulkomaat/2015102620565261_ul.shtml

 

República de Chile: “Tribunal de UE anula congelación de fondos de antiguo consejero de Yanukóvich”

El Tribunal General de la Unión Europea (UE) anuló hoy la congelación de fondos de Andréi Portnov, antiguo consejero del ex presidente de Ucrania Víktor Yanukóvich.

En respuesta a la crisis ucraniana que comenzó a finales de 2013, la UE decidió el 5 de marzo de 2014 congelar los fondos y recursos económicos de personas identificadas como responsables de apropiación indebida de fondos del Estado ucraniano o violaciones de los derechos humanos en Ucrania.

Portnov, calificado por la UE de antiguo consejero de Yanukóvich, fue incluido en la lista de las personas sancionadas por estar sometido a un proceso penal en Ucrania para investigar delitos en relación con el fraude de fondos públicos y su transferencia ilegal fuera de ese país.

Portnov solicitó al Tribunal General de la UE la anulación de su inclusión en la lista de sancionados.

Mediante la sentencia dictada hoy, el Tribunal General estima el recurso de Portnov y anula la congelación de fondos que se le impuso, por considerar que la UE le identificó como responsable de apropiación indebida de fondos del Estado ucraniano basándose únicamente en un escrito de la Fiscalía General de Ucrania.

Ésta indicó en su momento que la investigación iniciada, entre otras personas, contra Portnov ha permitido acreditar la apropiación indebida de fondos públicos en relación con importes considerables y su posterior transferencia ilegal fuera de Ucrania.

El Tribunal General considera no obstante que dicho escrito no aporta ninguna precisión sobre los hechos reprochados a Portnov ni sobre las responsabilidades de éste.

La corte europea deduce de ello que la inclusión del nombre de Portnov en esa lista negra no se ajusta a los criterios de designación de las personas sometidas a la congelación de fondos.

Tribunal de UE anula congelación de fondos de antiguo consejero de Yanukóvich
Terra, 26.10.2015
http://noticias.terra.cl/mundo/tribunal-de-ue-anula-congelacion-de-fondos-de-antiguo-consejero-de-yanukovich,fbb42a585320c101e04e58a84bbf381bcbhvc81w.html

EU OBSERVER “Ukraine ruling prompts EU rethink on sanctions”

EU judges have said member states had no legal grounds to impose an asset freeze on a Ukrainian former regime member, in a ruling which puts in doubt other listings.

The bloc’s General Court, in Luxembourg, on Monday (26 October) “set aside” the EU decision, last March, to seize the funds of Andriy Portnov, a former aide to Ukraine’s ousted leader Viktor Yanukovych.

It said the freeze was imposed “solely on the basis of a letter of 3 March 2014 from the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Ukraine, which stated that the investigation into, amongst others, Mr Portnov, had ‘made it possible to establish misappropriation of sizeable amounts of state funds’.”

It added that “on that basis … the inclusion of Mr Portnov’s name on the list does not satisfy the criteria for designating persons”.

The EU, shortly after the “Maidan” revolution last year, imposed asset freezes on 18 members of the old nomenklatura, including Yanukovych himself and his two sons.

The decision, originally published in the bloc’s Official Journal on 3 March 2014, cites the same grounds for all the listings, including Portnov, as their being “subject to investigation in Ukraine for involvement in crimes in connection with the embezzlement of Ukrainian state funds and their illegal transfer outside Ukraine”.

The list later grew to 22 people.

Four of them – including Portnov, as well as Oleksandr Yakymenko (a former Ukraine intelligence chief), Oleksii Azarov (the son of Ukraine’s former PM), and Ihor Kalinin (also a former Yanukovych aide) – were already delisted in March because Ukraine failed to put forward evidence.

Another person on the list, Yanukovych’s younger son, Viktor, died in Russia also in March.

A contact at the EU Court noted that Portnov continued to pursue his case despite the delisting “in order to prove the point that he should never have been on the list in the first place”.

Annulments

The contact noted that most of the other Ukrainians on the list are pursuing similar annulments, with judgments pending.

Five Russian firms and two Russian individuals – TV anchorman Dmitry Kiselyev and Kremlin-linked oligarch Arkady Rotenberg – have also filed legal challenges.

Meanwhile, Yury Chizh, a Belarusian tycoon accused of funding authoritarian president Alexander Lukashenko, on 6 October, won his case against an EU designation.

Other high profile defeats for the EU Council, the EU entity which imposes sanctions, in recent times include by Palestinian militant group Hamas, by Iranian banks and shipping firms, and by members of the former Tunisian regime.

Council lawyers are currently studying the Portnov verdict to decide whether to appeal.

But one EU diplomat said it has prompted plans to hold wider talks on EU sanctions policy in Relex, a Council working group which brings together member states’ senior officials.

He said the Portnov ruling might see the EU pre-emptively delist others from the remaining group of 17 Ukrainians.

Think twice

“We have to make sure all the people on the list are there on a really sound basis … that we can provide the evidence”, the diplomat noted.

“It [the Portnov decision] risks making EU sanctions useless because people will think you can’t designate someone if you fear there’s lack of legal justification … The decision means you’ll have to think twice before putting someone on a list”.

A third EU source said the sanctions debate is yet to be tabled on Relex’ agenda.

By contrast, US sources note the US Department of the Treasury, which imposes US blacklists, has never lost an asset freeze court challenge.

Ukraine’s post-Maidan authorities accuse the Yanukovych regime of stealing up to $70 billion in its four years in power.

When he fled, activists who entered his home and the home of his former prosecutor general, Viktor Pshonka, found luxury furniture, art, and jewellery indicating a level of personal wealth far beyond their official incomes.

EU diplomats also say Yanukovych, who is now living in Russia, is using stolen money to help the Kremlin fund military operations in east Ukraine.

Struggling to reform

The Maidan revolution was, in the main part, a popular uprising against the former regime’s corruption and lawlessness, as well as its decision to suspend EU integration.

But 18 months down the line, the country is struggling to reform the institutions at the heart of the problem.

Kalman Mizsei, the head of the EU’s rule of law mission in Kiev, Euam Ukraine, told EUobserver in an interview last month the prosecutor’s office still resembles an organised crime syndicate.

“There’s still no concept of public service. There’s widespread buying and selling of positions”, he said.

“The prosecution is the backbone of the old system. It’s vital to clean it up, to reduce its power, and to make it respectable”.

Ukraine ruling prompts EU rethink on sanctions
EUOBSERVER, 27.10.2015
https://euobserver.com/foreign/130854

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