UK: Middle East And North Africa Bulletin Iran, Libya And Ivory Coast Sanctions - 11 April 2011

Last Updated: 9 May 2011
Article by Nigel Brook

Throughout the Middle East and North Africa there has been continuing unrest. This bulletin follows in a series on the MENA region.

Iran

In Iran the situation has not changed, the sanctions remain in force. Most recently German Chancellor Angela Merkel intervened to stop billions of euros of Indian oil payments from reaching Iranian accounts via Germany, according to a German newspaper. Germany will no longer authorise the Bundesbank, to clear the payments headed to Hamburg-based EIH a bank currently under US but not EU sanctions. There has also been a reminder of the consequences of breaching sanctions. Three former executives of Mabey & Johnson, a UK engineering firm, were imprisoned in February for breach of UK law implementing UN sanctions. They were found guilty of paying "commissions" to government officials in Iraq during 2001/02.

The last of five Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) cargo ships seized following sanctions against Iran has been released. The IRISL vessels were impounded at ports around the world last year. Three ships held in Singapore were released in January and the fourth, seized in Hong Kong, was allowed to sail in February. The last vessel was held in Malta.

In March Hong Kong passed the United Nations Sanctions (Iran) (Amendments) Regulation 2011. The new laws that went into effect in March include asset freezes on Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL) and its affiliates. The laws are in line with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1929, which was passed last summer.

Libya

Since the Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 288/2011 was issued in March in respect of the asset-freezing measures directed by the European Union and the United Nations against certain persons in view of the situation in Libya, there has been a stalemate between the fighting of the rebels and the forces loyal to Muamar Gaddafi. It has been reported that the United States will begin withdrawing its combat jets, missile ships and submarines from the operation to secure the no-fly zone over Libya.

According to oil and gas news sources the rebels are in conversation with United Nations officials to exempt exportable oil now under their control from international sanctions. According to the same sources Qatar has recognised the Libyan rebels movement and has agreed to market oil produced from eastern Libya fields no longer under the control of Gaddafi.

The British foreign secretary William Hague has said that Qatar has offered to facilitate the sale of Libyan oil and to use the proceeds to help meet Libyan humanitarian needs.

Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire)

A UN embargo on heavy weapons to Ivory Coast has been in place since 2004. In light of recent violence the UN resolved on 30 March that financial sanctions should be imposed against Laurent Gbagbo (who was defeated in elections last November but clung to power) and four others who were obstructing the peace process.

On 7th April HM Treasury issued guidance on Council Regulation (EU) No 330/2011 in respect of the restrictive measures directed by the United Nations and the European Union against certain persons and entities in view of the current situation in the Ivory Coast. The EU Council Regulation reflects the additions to the list of those subject to asset freezes made by Resolution 1975 ('UNSCR 1975 (2011)').

  • Adds further persons to the list of those required by the EU to be subject to asset freezes;
  • Provides further grounds on which competent authorities may license derogations from the asset freezing prohibitions; and
  • Includes additional restrictive measures relating to bonds, securities and loans.

Ivory Coast produces 40% of the world's cocoa. Alassane Ouattara, widely regarded as the winner of the elections, called for a four month ban on cocoa exports in January to starve Gbagbo of funds and now that the conflict is nearly over it is hoped that exports will resume within days.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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