A number of judgments were handed down by the Court of Justice of the EU (the “CJEU”) on 18 September 2015, in relation to the EU’s 2012 listing of companies alleged to be connected with the National Iranian Oil Company (“NIOC”).

In Case T-5/13 Iran Liquefied Natural Gas Co v Council of the European Union, the applicant was successful because the EU offered no evidence against the applicant’s denial that it was a subsidiary of NIOC.

The applicant also won in Case T-121/13 Oil Pension Fund Investment Company v Council of the European Union (link in French) because the EU did not provide evidence in support of its accusation that the applicant had provided financial support to the Iranian Government.

16 applicants lost in Case T-577/12 (link in French) because they could not refute the contention that they were wholly owned subsidiaries of NIOC.

Similarly, in Joined Cases T-156/13 and T-373/14 Petro Suisse Intertrade Co. SA v Council of the European Union, the applicant could not refute that it was a subsidiary of NIOC, and therefore lost its application. The applicant in Case T-428/13 Iranian Oil Company UK Ltd (IOC-UK) v Council of the European Union lost for the same reason.

In July 2014, NIOC’s application to have its own sanctions listing annulled was rejected by the CJEU in Case T- 578/12 National Iranian Oil Company v Council (link in French) (see Issue 24 of the Sanctions Alert). The CJEU’s reasoning was that NIOC is an “entity owned and managed by the State”. NIOC’s appeal against that decision is ongoing, in Case C-440/14 National Iranian Oil Company v Council. On 3 September 2015, Advocate General Cruz Villalón gave a non-binding opinion (link in Spanish) that the CJEU had been correct in its initial ruling. The ultimate decision may not have much practical relevance, since the asset freeze against NIOC is due to be lifted as part of the first phase of sanctions relief under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the “JCPOA”) (see the Debevoise Client Update of 17 July 2015), after Iran fulfils its initial nuclear weapons decommissioning obligations.