The General Court of the European Union (the “Court”) has ruled in favour of Syria International Islamic Bank (“SIIB”), granting its application to have annulled the asset freeze imposed on it by  the European Council (the “Council”). SIIB had been listed on the grounds that it acted as a front  for the Commercial Bank of Syria (“CBS”) and the Syrian Lebanese Commercial Bank (“SLCB”), both of which are designated by the EU. The Council reasoned that acting as a front for CBS and SLCB contributed to providing support to the Syrian regime.

In a judgment handed down in French, the Court ruled that the Council had not proved that the transactions carried out by SIIB for clients who also held accounts with CBS and SLCB involved a particularly high risk that the source of money was the Syrian regime or persons subject to restrictive measures. The mere fact that some of SIIB’s clients also held accounts with CBS and SLCB was not sufficient to justify designating SIIB. The Court also noted that the Council had not provided evidence suggesting that SIIB’s clients were implicated in the violent repression of the civilian population in Syria.

Despite ruling in favour of SIIB, the Court rejected its application for damages on the grounds that it failed to prove that it had suffered loss specifically as a result of EU sanctions, as opposed to other sanctions regimes, or on account of the general situation in Syria. SIIB produced a report claiming to substantiate its claim for damages which was rejected because it was submitted late.

Case T-293/12 Syria International Islamic Bank v Council (French)

Press Release (English)