Summaries of judgments: OT v Council of the European Union – Cyber Information

Summaries of judgments made in collaboration with the Portuguese judges and référendaire of the Common Courtroom (Maria José Costeira, Ricardo Silva Passos and Esperança Mealha)
 

Judgment of the Common Courtroom (First Chamber, Prolonged Composition), 15 November 2023,

Case T-193/22, OT v Council of the European Union

Details

Following the army aggression perpetrated by the Russian Federation (‘Russia’) towards Ukraine on 24 February 2022, the Council of the European Union (‘the Council’) adopted a number of acts by which it added the applicant’s identify to the lists of individuals, entities and our bodies supporting actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, adopted by the Council since 2014.

The Council imposed on the applicant, OT, a businessman of Russian nationality, the freezing of his banking funds and belongings, in accordance with Article 2(1) (d) and (g) of Resolution 2014/145/CFSP of 17 March 2014[1], on the bottom that, he’s a serious shareholder of the Russian conglomerate ‘Alfa Group’, certainly one of Russia’s largest taxpayers. As such, the applicant is taken into account to be one of the influential individuals within the nation and has hyperlinks with the Russian President. In keeping with the Council, Vladimir Putin rewarded the Alfa Group for its loyalty to the Russian authorities.

These measures had been prolonged in respect of the applicant by Resolution 2022/1530/CFSP[2] and Regulation 2022/1529 of 14 September 2022[3] for a similar causes.

The applicant introduced an motion towards the acts adopted by the Council, which the Common Courtroom (GC) dismissed in its entirety. In his motion, the applicant raises a plea of illegality, manifest errors of evaluation, specifically as regards the proof submitted by the Council, the usage of the identical criterion in an effort to keep the applicant’s identify on the checklist, and an infringement of the ideas of proportionality, proper to property, and freedom to conduct a enterprise.

Resolution

Firstly, as regards the plea of illegality regarding Article 1, (d) and (g) of Regulation 2022/330 of 25 February 2022[4], the applicant alleges the infringement of the precept of authorized certainty and complains that the Council used inappropriate standards within the mild of the targets of the restrictive measures.

The GC factors out that it’s clear from the wording of the article that criterion (d) applies selectively to individuals who, even not having a hyperlink with the destabilisation of Ukraine, present materials or monetary assist to Russian decision-makers liable for it or derive advantages from such decision-makers. The GC provides that such criterion doesn’t require that the individuals or entities involved personally profit from the annexation of Crimea or the destabilisation of Ukraine.

Near to criterion (g), the GC discovered that its wording targets in a sufficiently clear and exact method the main entrepreneurs lively in sectors that present a considerable supply of revenue to the Russian authorities. Thus, the individuals focused could be thought of influential due to their significance of their sector of exercise and the significance of this sector for the Russian financial system. The GC additionally factors out that these standards, interpreted within the mild of the legislative and historic context by which they had been adopted, aren’t manifestly inappropriate contemplating the target of the measures, the paramount significance of sustaining peace and European and international safety and stability. Consequently, the GC rejects the arguments regarding that plea of illegality.

Within the second place, concerning the plea alleging a manifest error of evaluation of the proof submitted within the context of criterion (g), the Courtroom remembers that the exercise of the Courts of the European Union is ruled by the precept of the unfettered evaluation of proof, which should be assessed within the mild of its credibility, of the account it accommodates and, specifically, to the particular person from whom the doc originates, the circumstances by which it was adopted and its addressee, and by figuring out whether or not such a doc seems to be sound and dependable. Moreover, the GC factors out that the battle scenario in Ukraine might make it notably tough to have entry to the first supply of sure info, and to the gathering of testimonies, and factors out that the following investigative difficulties might forestall the submission of exact proof and goal info. Within the mild of these issues, the Courtroom concludes within the current case that the probative worth of the paperwork produced by the Council can’t be denied.

As regards the second a part of the plea, the GC states that the plea should be considered referring to an error of evaluation of the info within the mild of criterion (g), and to not a ‘manifestly’ misguided evaluation of these info. In that context, the GC states that judicial evaluate should be efficient and is predicated, inter alia, on the verification of the info alleged within the assertion of causes on which the choice at challenge is predicated. Moreover, the evaluation of the grounds relied on towards the particular person involved should be carried out by analyzing the proof and data in its context. The Council thus revered the burden of proof in offering the Courtroom with a set of indicia that are sufficiently particular, exact and constant to ascertain the existence of a enough hyperlink between the entity topic to a measure freezing its funds and the regime or, on the whole, the conditions addressed.

Within the third place, as regards the preliminary itemizing of the applicant on the idea of criterion (g), the GC observes that that criterion makes use of the idea of ‘main businesspersons’ in reference to the train of an ‘exercise in financial sectors offering a considerable supply of revenue to the (Russian) Authorities’, and never one other situation regarding a direct or oblique hyperlink with that authorities. Thus, the GC concludes that criterion (g) doesn’t require the Council to reveal the existence of shut hyperlinks or interdependence with the Authorities of Russia, nor does it rely on the imputability to the applicant of the choices regarding the continuation of the battle in Ukraine or on a direct or oblique hyperlink with the destabilisation of that nation.

In these circumstances, the GC finds that the Council didn’t commit an error of evaluation in contemplating the applicant to be a ‘main businessperson’ by classifying him, inter alia, as a ‘massive shareholder of the Alfa Group’ conglomerate, despite the fact that the latter had transferred his shares in that firm. Within the mild of criterion (g), the idea of ‘main businessperson’ refers to factual parts which relate each to the previous and on the materials time, with the end result that the grounds for itemizing the applicant might consult with a factual scenario which existed earlier than the adoption of the preliminary acts and which was amended with out essentially implying the obsolescence of the restrictive measures adopted on that foundation.

As well as, as regards the argument regarding the retention of the applicant’s identify on the lists on the idea of the identical criterion, the GC states that, in an effort to justify such upkeep, the Council might, when reviewing the restrictive measures periodically, depend on the identical proof as these which justified the preliminary itemizing, in as far as the grounds for itemizing stay unchanged and the context has not modified in such a manner as to render these parts out of date. Within the current case, the Courtroom observes that the alleged switch of the applicant’s shares within the firm in query was not substantiated by sufficiently convincing proof within the proceedings earlier than the GC. Consequently, the Council was entitled to take the view that the applicant’s particular person scenario had not developed since his preliminary inclusion on the lists at challenge.

Lastly, as regards the alleged infringements of the precept of proportionality, the precise to property, the liberty to conduct a enterprise and the precise to pursue an occupation alleged by the applicant, the GC finds that the disadvantages triggered to the applicant in that regard aren’t disproportionate to the significance of the target pursued by the contested acts.

Consequently, the GC dismisses the motion in its entirety.

Judgment of the Common Courtroom (First Chamber, Prolonged Composition), 20 December 2023, Case T-313/22, Abramovich v Council

Mr Roman Arkadyevich Abramovich is a businessman of Russian, Israeli and Portuguese nationalities. He’s, specifically, the bulk shareholder within the mum or dad firm Evraz, one of many main Russian teams within the metal and mining sector. That sector gives a considerable income to the Russian Authorities. 

Following the assault launched by Russia towards Ukraine on 24 February 2022, the Council, inter alia, froze the funds of, and prohibited entry into or transit by the European Union to, main businesspersons who interact in actions in financial sectors offering a considerable income to the Russian Authorities.

These restrictive measures are aimed toward growing stress on Russia and the price of the latter’s actions in undermining the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. 

Mr Abramovich challenges, earlier than the Common Courtroom of the European Union, the inclusion and upkeep of his identify on the lists of individuals and entities topic to these measures. Moreover, he seeks compensation in respect of hurt to his popularity, which he provisionally estimates at €1,000,000. 

The Common Courtroom dismisses the motion introduced by Mr Abramovich, thereby upholding the restrictive measures taken towards him.

The Council didn’t the truth is err in its evaluation by deciding to incorporate then keep Mr Abramovich’s identify on the lists at challenge, within the mild of his function within the Evraz group and, specifically, its mum or dad firm. 

The Courtroom observes, moreover, that the inclusion and upkeep of Mr Abramovich’s identify on the lists at challenge don’t represent an unjustified and disproportionate infringement of his basic rights, which embrace, specifically, the precise to respect for personal and household life, the liberty to conduct a enterprise and free motion. In that connection, the Common Courtroom remembers, specifically, that EU legislation gives for the opportunity of authorising the usage of frozen funds in an effort to meet important wants and of granting particular permissions permitting funds or different financial assets to be launched. 

In as far as considerations, extra particularly, the alleged infringement of the precise of Mr Abramovich, as a Portuguese and, due to this fact, EU nationwide, to maneuver freely on the territory of the European Union, the Common Courtroom rejects his arguments alleging disproportionate infringement of that freedom as unfounded. 

Since Mr Abramovich has did not reveal that the inclusion and upkeep of his identify on the lists had been illegal, his declare for compensation can be dismissed.


[1] Council Resolution 2014/145/CFSP of 17 March 2014 regarding restrictive measures in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine (OJ 2022 L 78, p. 16)

[2] Council Resolution (CFSP) 2022/1530 of 14 September 2022 amending Resolution 2014/145/CFSP regarding restrictive measures in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine (OJ 2022 L 239, p. 149).

[3]Council Implementing Regulation (EU) 2022/1529 of 14 September 2022 implementing Regulation (EU) No 269/2014 regarding restrictive measures in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine (OJ 2022 L 239, p. 1).

[4]Council Regulation (EU) 2022/330 of 25 February 2022 amending Regulation (EU) No 269/2014 regarding restrictive measures in respect of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine (OJ 2022 L 51 p. 1). In keeping with Article 1:

“(…) 1. Annex I lists (…)

(d) pure or authorized individuals, entities or our bodies supporting, materially or financially, or benefiting from Russian decisionmakers liable for the annexation of Crimea or the destabilisation of Ukraine;

(…)

(g) main businesspersons or authorized individuals, entities or our bodies concerned in financial sectors offering a considerable supply

of income to the Authorities of the Russian Federation, which is liable for the annexation of Crimea and the destabilisation of Ukraine.’