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”.

 

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”.

 

 

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.

 

Netherlands – investigation as to whether a designated person owns/controls football club

It is being reported in the UK and in the Netherlands, that the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs is investigating whether Roman Abramovich owns or controls the football club Vitesse Arnhem. The allegation of ownership or control is based on a series of financial arrangements and loans.

While those arrangement pre-date the sanctions, if the club was indeed owned or controlled by a designated person its operations since the designation are likely to have been conducted in breach of the asset freeze.

European Sanctions Enforcement – milestone of over 2000 announced and active investigations reached

With the recent news that Finland has increased the number of its ongoing investigations, Europe (meaning the EU, the UK, Switzerland, etc) has reached the milestone of over 2,000 ongoing and public sanctions enforcement investigations being undertaken by regulators and prosecutors.

No doubt there are other investigations which are ongoing in the countries shown on the graph, and no doubt there are investigations ongoing in countries not shown and which remain confidential.

How many of these will be dropped due to inconclusive evidence or exculpatory evidence, and how many will lead to a conviction or fine or acquittal is impossible to say.

It is, without question, an unprecedented level of enforcement.

 

Netherlands – four month prison sentence for breach of ISIS sanctions

The Court of Appeal in the Hague has quashed some convictions and upheld others of a suspect charged with terrorist financing and with breaching the EU’s ISIS sanctions.

The underlying actions were the indirect transfer of approximately €4,550 in several tranches to the suspect’s daughter and son-in-law who were then in Syria as part of ISIS.

The Court of Appeal quashed the convictions for terrorist financing saying there was no evidence that that was the suspect’s intention.

The convictions under the EU’s sanctions were, however, upheld with the court noting that intention does not form part of the offence which consists simply of making funds or economic resources available to a designated person.

The defendant was given a four month custodial sentence.

Netherlands – company convicted of sanctions breaches ordered to be liquidated

As per our earlier post, in November last year the Public Prosecution Service in the Netherlands applied to wind up a company convicted of breaching the EU’s sanctions by unlawfully exporting goods to Russia.

Yesterday, the District Court of Gelderland issued its order and judgment in the case. The court granted the application to wind up the company and appointed a liquidator to oversee the process.

The court noted that the company had ceased to trade and that its director and shareholder (also convicted) had fled the Netherlands for Russia.

The court did not grant the Prosecution’s application to immediately turn over all funds in the company’s bank accounts as the proceeds of crime. Rather the court has left the question of what funds are the proceeds of crime “to the liquidator to make an independent assessment”.

The case is an illustration of the powers available to courts post-conviction.

Netherlands – 137 new investigations into Russian sanctions breaches commenced since September 2023

In not commenting on whether a specific investigation was or was not ongoing , the Dutch Foreign Ministry has confirmed publicly that there are currently 192 ongoing investigations into possible Russian sanctions breaches.

Further to our earlier post from September 2023 there were at that stage 55 ongoing investigations.

The new figures indicate that 137 new investigations have been commenced since September last year.

No further information has been released on the status or nature of those investigations.

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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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