1. Introduction

On 13 October 2011, the Council of the European Union (EU) adopted further amendments to the EU sanctions measures against Syria – this time imposing an asset freeze on the Commercial Bank of Syria – in Council Decision 2011/684/CFSP.1 This Decision was published in the EU’s Official Journal of today, 14 October 2011, along with accompanying Council Regulation 1011/20112 (which amends the EU’s original Syria Sanctions Regulation, Regulation 442/2011, and has entered into force as of today).

  1. New restrictions introduced by Regulation 1011/2011

For a description of the EU’s original Syria Sanctions Regulation (i.e. Regulation 442/2011)3 as well as prior amendments to this Regulation, see our previous alerts from 5 September 2011 and 27 September 2011.

Regulation 1011/2011 further expands the EU’s Syria sanctions framework by making the Commercial Bank of Syria (incuding all its offices worldwide) an entity subject to the EU’s asset freeze – with the result that parties subject to EU jurisdiction must not make funds or economic resources directly or indirectly available to it or for its benefit.

To allow for the financing of trade with non-listed parties, Article 9a introduces a special temporary exemption to the freezing of funds and economic resources belonging to, owned, held, controlled by the Commercial Bank of Syria (but not other designated parties). This new provision allows for Commercial Bank of Syria payments from its frozen funds and economic resources until 13 December 2011 (i.e. for a period of two months starting on its designation date of 13 October 2011) provided that such payments are due under a trade contract and will not directly or indirectly be received by other parties featured on the EU’s existing asset freeze list (i.e. Annex II). This exemption should therefore allow payments to be made under existing contracts not involving listed parties.

One minor change is also introduced to the previously established ban on purchase, transport and EU import of specified crude oil and petroleum products as the relevant product list is amended to exclude certain purchases of Syrian kerosene jet fuel intended and used for flight operation of the aircraft into which it is loaded.4