As of January 2024, more than 1950 Russian individuals and legal entities have been included in the European Union sanctions list as a result of measures taken by the European Union in connection with the situation in Ukraine. A number of individuals have been successfully removed from both the US, EU and Swiss sanctions list already. In this newsletter we will focus on the general legal framework for EU sanctions removal , specific recent successful cases and the LINDEMANNLAW expertise in this area.
1. What is the purpose of EU economic sanctions? When can persons be removed from the EU Sanctions list?
The primary objective of European Union imposing sanctions on a legal entity or an individual is to encourage to change behavior in line with the EU policy goals by that persons and companies. Economic sanctions are to be distinguished from criminal punishment. Accordingly, if it can be shown that the basis for the designation no longer applies, potentially the behavior may have already been changed at the time the sanctions have been imposed and respectively at the time that the person or company has been included in a sanctions list, the relevant person or company has to be removed from the European Union sanctions list. Successful cases of EU sanctions removal are typically businesspeople that do not or no longer support certain government activities, as well as family members or known contacts that do not or no longer support sanctioned actors.
2. Are law firms allowed to represent clients?
LINDEMANNLAW is a Swiss law firm acting under the laws of the Swiss Confederation. While the Swiss Confederation has taken to implement EU economic sanctions, Swiss law firms are not prohibited to provide legal representation for sanctioned Russian individuals1. Swiss law firms are also allowed to provide legal services to Russian legal entities with respect to judicial, administrative or arbitral proceedings to maintain their access to justice.
3. What is the procedure to remove EU sanctions against an individual?
Inclusion in the sanctions lists is done in the form of official acts of the European Union executive body – the European Council2. Although it is widely acknowledged that sanctions are an instrument of foreign policy, and thus are of political nature, their introduction must fit into the public policy leeway that is determined by the legal framework provided in the founding Treaties of the European Union. The Council informs individuals and organizations subjected to these sanctions; and they have the option to seek legal recourse. They are entitled to offer their observations on the listing and challenge the imposed measure before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The first applications of such kind date back to 2014 when the first package was introduced, for example, T-346-8/14 Yanukovych v Council. The EU legal framework for sanctions defining the applicants, the powers of the CJEU, grounds for annulment and its consequences are laid out in articles 263, 264 and 266 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU)3 and certain other specific procedural regulation.
4. How long does it take to remove EU sanctions?
The sanctions removal procedure can last as short as 4 months, the average duration is about one calendar year. The person known to have spent the least time under the EU sanctions is Saodat Narzieva, the sister of Alisher Usmanov, a Russian UHNWI with assets in Switzerland and other Western countries. She was added to the EU Sanctions lists in April 2022 but was removed by September 2022, resulting in a total sanction period of just four full months4. Other successful cases lasted ca. 12 calendar months from the application to the CJEU decision on sanctions removal. In certain cases this may take longer depending on the circumstances and the complexity of the specific situation.
5. What successful precedents exist?
By now there are 11 successful precedents of removing of individuals from the EU and the US sanctions list. Below we offer the full list to your attention:
Individuals against whom Russia-related sanctions of the EU and the US have been removed:
- Saodat Narzieva
- Olga Ayziman
Official Journal of the European Union
- Dmitry Ovsyannikov
EU Court of Justice
Operative part of the ECJ Decision link
- Grigory Berezkin
- Alexander Shulgin
- Georgy Shuvaev† (deceased 2022)
- Anatoly Karachinskiy
First Russian National to be removed from the U.S. SDN List following the Russian war in Ukraine on May 19, 2023
- Andrey Golikov
Office of Foreign Assets Control
- Elena Titova
- Natalya Alymova
- Paul Goldfinch
In 2023 the European Union decided not to renew sanctions against three Russian businessmen: Grigory Berezkin, Farkhad Akhmedov, and Alexander Shulgin. Besides the aforementioned Saodat Narzieva case study, in 2022 Olga Ayziman, the ex-wife of M. Friedman, the founder of Alfa-Bank in Russia, managed to have her EU assets de-frozen. Same year, the CJEU ordered lifting sanctions against Dmitry Ovsyannikov, a Russian national who was the Governor of Sevastopol until July 2019 and in 2019-2020 was Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation.
6. What are the benefits of a removal from the SDN list?
The mayor benefit is asset unfreezing after EU sanctions removal. The former designated person can freely manage all his or her assets. Especially bank accounts will be deblocked. In addition, the assets of companies controlled by the former designated person are unfrozen and can be used to conduct business.
7. Why LINDEMANNLAW?
- LINDEMANNLAW has experience with removals from EU, Swiss and US sanctions lists as we employ EU, Swiss and US lawyers.
- We have Russian-speaking lawyers in our team who work on sanctions removal cases and work with Russian-speaking clients for more than 12 years.
- We coordinate simultaneous removals from EU, Swiss and US sanctions lists.
- We have a specialized litigation team.
- Alongside with our team expertise, LINDEMANNLAW utilizes custom-tailored AI technology, internet resources and world intelligence databases that help to verify that the grounds for sanctions had no factual basis or were inaccurately assessed
For more information, please feel free to contact us and we will be happy to help you.
1 Art. 28e. Verbote betreffend Dienstleistungen. RS 9126.96.36.199. Verordnung über Massnahmen im Zusammenhang mit der Situation in der Ukraine. https://www.fedlex.admin.ch/eli/cc/2022/151/de.
2 Not to be confused with a supranational organization which also includes non-EU member states, the Council of Europe.
3 OJ C 202, 7.6.2016, pp. 162-163.
4 See, for example: Sister of oligarch Alisher Usmanov removed from EU sanctions list. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/sep/16/alisher-usmanov-removed-eu-sanctions-list-saodat-narzieva.