On 4 June 2014, the General Court of the EU (First Chamber) annulled the listing of three Iranian individuals and one entity, all of whom were designated pursuant to Council Regulation (EC) No 267/2012.
In Case T-622/12, Ali Sedghi & Ahmad Azizi v Council, the Court annulled the listings of Sedghi and Azizi, both occupying directorial positions of the listed entity Melli Bank Plc (“Melli Bank”), itself a UK-subsidiary of the listed Bank Melli Iran. The Iranian bank was listed for allegedly providing support to the Iranian state for nuclear proliferation. At the time of the Court’s judgment, Sedghi was the former Chairman and Non-executive Director of Melli Bank, whilst Azizi was the Deputy Chairman and Managing Director of the bank.
The Court held that, as a general rule, the listing of an individual on account of his links with a listed entity might be justified where that individual exercises managerial power over an entity that is directly involved in the support of nuclear proliferation. However, in the present case, the Court found that Melli Bank had not provided such support itself, and was only listed because it was wholly owned by its Iranian parent company. That was sufficient to list the UK company, but not associated persons. As a result, the Court held that “the fact that the applicants held positions at Melli Bank does not by itself permit the inference that they provided support for nuclear proliferation”, nor could it be said that any risk of future support existed.
In Case T-67/12, Sina Bank v Council, the Court upheld Sina Bank’s second application for annulment. Sina Bank had won a previous application in December 2012, only for the EU Council to relist it based on new evidence. The Court found, however, that the Council had not given Sina Bank the opportunity to comment on the new evidence, thus violating its right to challenge evidence brought against it. As a result of its decision in respect of Sina Bank, the General court, in a separate case (Case T-68/12, Abdolnaser Hemmati v Council), annulled the listing of the bank’s Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Abdolnaser Hemmati, who had been listed solely because of his position at the bank.