• 18/06/2024 17:05

Russian billionaires Aven and Fridman won a lawsuit regarding EU sanctions, but restrictions are still in effect

The Court of the European Union upheld the claim of shareholders of the Russian Alfa-Bank Petr Aven and Mikhail Fridman to exclude them from the sanctions list for the period from February 2022 to March 2023. The corresponding document was published on the court's website.

Russian billionaires Aven and Fridman won the case regarding EU sanctions, but restrictions are still in effect

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“The General Court cancels the inclusion of Pyotr Aven and Mikhail Fridman in the lists of persons against whom restrictive measures were applied that were in force from February 2022 to March 2023,” says the court decision.

According to the court decision, the grounds on which the businessmen were included in the lists are not sufficiently substantiated, and the Council of the European Union did not provide additional evidence.

“The court considers that none of the reasons set out in the initial sanctions acts are sufficiently justified, and therefore, the inclusion of Aven and Fridman in the appealed lists was not justified,” the statement says.

As for the continuation of the action acts, the court believes that the Council of the European Union did not provide any additional evidence in comparison with those on which it relied in the primary acts.

“In the opinion of the court, although the grounds put forward by the Council of the European Union may be capable of establishing, depending on the circumstances, the degree of closeness of Aven and Friedman to Putin or his entourage, they do not demonstrate that they supported actions or policies that undermine or threaten territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine, or that they provided material or financial support to Russian individuals responsible for the annexation of Crimea or the destabilization of Ukraine, or that they received benefits from these individuals,” the court’s decision notes.

An appeal may be filed within 2 months and 10 days from the date of notification of the court decision.

At the same time, as Evropeyskaya Pravda writes, according to the procedure in the Court of the European Union, it is not sanctions as such that are being challenged, but a specific decision of the Council of the European Union. Aven and Fridman appealed the decision in force at the time of their lawsuit in 2022. However, it still ceased to apply – it was replaced by a sanctions decision in 2023, and then 2024.

Despite the fact that legally the EU decision does not affect the validity of existing restrictions on oligarchs, it creates political problems for extending sanctions for subsequent periods. In particular, in the period until 2022, after similar decisions of the Court, the European Union was forced to stop renewing sanctions against most of the henchmen of fugitive President Viktor Yanukovych, who were included in the sanctions list in 2014.

Remember

Fridman and Aven are the founders and shareholders of the Russian Alfa-Bank. After the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, they left the Russian Federation, however, they found themselves under sanctions from the EU and the UK. In August 2023, they were included in the US sanctions list.

In March 2023, it became known that Fridman and Aven were ready to sell their shares in Alfa Bank (45%) for $2.3 billion to their long-time business partner partner Andrei Kosogov in exchange for the lifting of Western sanctions.

The “Ministry of Finance” wrote that in September 2023, the UK National Crime Agency (NCA) stopped the investigation into the Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman, who was accused of evasion from imposed sanctions.

minfin.com.ua

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