Netherlands – Supreme Court upholds conviction and custodial sentence for ISIS sanctions violation

Further to our earlier post, in late 2021 the Dutch Court of Appeal sentenced an individual to a six month custodial prison term for a number of offences including for making a payment in breach of the EU’s ISIS sanctions.

The Dutch Supreme Court has upheld the convictions for terrorist financing and breaching the Dutch Sanctiewet 1977, but remanded the conviction for money laundering to the Court of Appeal.

The facts relate to the transfer of €471 from an individual to his brother who was in Syria as part of ISIS. The defence sought to argue that the man did not have the required intent to support terrorism, or knowledge that the funds had benefitted ISIS.

As held by the Supreme Court at [2.9]:

“With regard to the violation of the provision of Article 2 of the Sanctions Act 1977, the offense proven under 2, the suspect’s intent does not have to be aimed at non-compliance with the legal regulations referred to in the finding of proof. The suspect’s intention must be aimed at ensuring that the money ends up indirectly with (a) terrorist organization”.

 

Germany – raids on luxury car exporters to Russia

It is being reported (in German and English) that the Customs Investigation Office in Essen and the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Bochum conducted raids on two premises including on a luxury car dealership on suspicion of exporting more than €5 million in cars to Russia.

The allegations include that fictitious destinations for the exports were put forward when the real destination was Russia.

Evidence and cars were seized as part of the raids.

Netherlands – raids and arrests for suspected Russian timber imports

The Dutch FIOD has today issued a press release announcing raids on two businesses and two homes and the arrest of two individuals aged 73 and 46.

The arrests were on suspicion of importing Russian timber in breach of the EU’s sanctions and for circumventing the prohibition on Russian timber imports by purchasing timber through Chinese suppliers.

The businesses and individuals have not been named but the press release localises them in Ridderkerk.

The press release also confirms that the timber has been seized.

 

Netherlands – an end to exemptions allowing port entry for Russian-flagged vessels

The Dutch Minister for Infrastructure and Water Management has announced in a written statement to parliament, that the Dutch government will no longer grant exemptions to the EU’s prohibition on Russian-flagged vessels, or vessels registered with the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping from using Dutch ports.

The Dutch had been granting permission for Russian fishing vessels to use Dutch ports based on the “food products” exemption. This practice will now stop with the Minister stating: “Future requests for an exemption for Russian flagged ships will also be assessed negatively”.

Press reports in the Netherland had linked Russian fishing vessels to espionage, but the main reasons given in the statement include:

      • “increasing geopolitical tensions”;
      • “upcoming tightening of European sanctions policy”; and
      • that the issue “had also been discussed in the debates about the European summit by a number of factions and attention was drawn to effective implementation of the sanctions by the Netherlands”.

 

 

Sweden – companies called to Foreign Ministry to explain possible circumvention

It is being reported (e.g. here and here) that a number of large Swedish companies have been called to the Foreign Ministry to attend a meeting also attended by a number of other authorities.

The meeting concerned information received by Sweden from the European Commission about exports to Russia which may have been in breach of, or circumvented, the EU’s sanctions.

The companies called to attend the meeting included Atlas Copco, Ericsson, Volvo, SKF and Sandvik.

The companies deny breaches of sanctions.

The Swedish authorities are now considering what further action to take.

Denmark – investigation closes into alleged import of fuel from partly Russian-owned refinery in India

Further to our earlier post regarding an investigation by the Danish Business Authority into allegations that the Danish shipping company Hafnia, was importing refined fuels from a refinery in India that may have been owned or controlled by Rosneft (which is a designated person under the EU’s sanctions), it is now being reported (here – behind a paywall), that the Danish Business Authority has concluded its investigation having determined that it could not establish that there had been a breach of Russian sanctions.

As yet the Danish Business Authority has not issued a statement on its website.

France – raids on company shut down large scale exports to Russia in breach of sanctions

France’s La Direction Nationale du Renseignement et des Enquêtes Douanières has issued a press release reporting on raids conducted on a company in Ile-de-France on Thursday and Friday of last week.

The raids by 25 customs officers came after a 10-month investigation. The conduct is stated to amount to exports valued at several 10s of millions of Euros, and to have involved 100s of false customs declarations involving several dozen different exporters each using the services of the raided customs agent.

The company had advertised on the darkweb that it could provide a turnkey sanctions evasion service.

The French authorities acknowledged the help from reports from other European countries and noted the investigation highlighted “statistical anomalies, notably an exponential growth of exports of the company in question to third countries bordering Russia”.

 

Netherlands – court permits sanctions defendant to resume trading pending trial

Further to our earlier post from July 2023 concerning raids and an arrest in the Netherlands of a 41-year old on suspicion of breaching Russian sanctions, the District Court of Rotterdam has released a judgment concerning a pre-trial application by the accused seeking the release from attachment of the stock in trade of his business.

The criminal trial is stated as “not expected to take place until the autumn at the earliest”.

The court granted the application, ruling that “the complainant has (for some time now) no other source of income, while his fixed costs continue” and that “the interest of the complainant in being able to trade in the company stock … and thus obtain some income, outweighs” the government’s interest in maintaining the attachment.

 

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The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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