This week, the European Union (EU) extended the asset freeze and admission ban to additional individuals for Syria1, Libya2, Belarus3, and Iran4, as well as to new entities in Iran (see attached list). The expansion of the restrictions is the result of the deterioration of conditions in these countries, mainly further harassment of political opposition and, with respect to Iran, circumvention attempts.

The expansion of the Iranian asset freeze is mainly the result of a number of investigations with respect to attempts by Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Line (IRISL) to circumvent sanctions by using front companies, including in the EU. Also, a number of other Iranian companies, involved in procurement of equipment and components for the Iranian nuclear industry, were listed. This is the first time so many European companies have been subjected to sanctions.

The extension of Syrian sanctions to top Syrian officials is the result of the EU concluding that previous sanctions were ineffective in stemming the regime's crack-down on opposition. If the situation in Syria does not improve, further sanctions will be considered.

The extension of Belarusian sanctions is the result of recent sentences in political trials stemming from last year's presidential elections. A new round of economic sanctions on Belarus, which may include asset freeze on state-owned entities as well as other measures, is also being discussed.

More detailed information regarding the measures implemented, by country, is below.

Iran - The EU extended the existing asset freeze to five individuals, officials from the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) and a substantial number of entities, mainly related to IRISL. Targeted Iran entities are involved in a wide range of industries such as petroleum, banking, shipping, and transportation in addition to nuclear-related. The extension of sanctions to 73 companies related to IRISL confirms the seriousness with which the EU treats restriction of IRISL's circumventing activities. The newly designated entities include:

  • A number of Iranian entities involved in procurement of materials and equipment in Iran's nuclear program;
  • Two subsidiaries of the AEOI;
  • A Belarusian bank co-owned by a number of designated Iranian banks;
  • Two Malaysian companies;
  • Two UAE companies involved in procurement of components for Iranian nuclear program;
  • Thirty-seven German entities, either owned or controlled by the IRISIL, other designated persons, or one German-Iranian bank involved in circumventing EU sanctions on financial transactions;
  • Twelve Isle of Man entities, either IRISL subsidiaries, or controlling ship-owning companies in Hong Kong;
  • Nineteen Hong Kong companies, owning ships operated by SAPID (which took over IRISL's bulk business); and
  • Six Maltese companies and a Cypriot company, ultimately controlled by IRISIL.

Syria - The EU has expanded the existing asset freeze and travel ban to additional 10 individuals, mainly high-level Syrian officials (including the Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and Vice President Faruq Al Shar), as well as two businessmen: Mohamed Hamcho, and Ihab Makhlouf (Vice President of SyriaTel). In addition, the EU suspended all ongoing bilateral programs with Syria (e.g., canceled the signing of the Association Agreement with Syria, suspended funding from the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument and under the Euro-Med partnership) and has asked the European Investment Bank not to approve new financing operations in Syria. If the situation in Syria does not improve, the EU is ready to take further measures.

Libya - The EU has expanded its asset freeze to Afriqiyah Airways (owned by the already sanctioned Libyan-African Investment Portfolio), and its asset freeze and ban on admission to Taher Juwadi, a member of the Quadhafi regime. In addition, official talks on how to use the frozen assets for the benefit of the Libyan population and the opposition have begun within the Council. Belarus - Following recent sentencing of political opponents in trials before Belarusian courts, the EU has extended its asset freeze and visa ban to 13 additional judges, prosecutors, and other public officials in Belarus. The question of extending the sanctions to state-owned entities (as called for by the European Parliament's resolution of 12 May 2001 and pushed by a number of EU Member States) continues to be on the agenda.

For detailed information about the individuals and entities that are targeted, please see the attached list.