European Court of Justice upholds sanctions against Rosneft
MOSCOW, March 28 (RAPSI) – The Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg (ECJ) held on Tuesday that sanctions imposed by the EU against Russian companies, including Rosneft oil and gas giant, are valid.
The ECJ considered that it had jurisdiction to issue preliminary rulings on the legality of “an act adopted on the basis of provisions relating to the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), such as the Council decision,” according to the press release for the court’s judgment obtained by RAPSI.
The court in particular ruled that the restrictive measures ban the issuance of Global Depositary Receipts representing shares floated before introducing sanctions.
However, the court ruled that the sanctions “do not relate to the processing of payments by banks,” the statement reads.
Rosneft characterized the ECJ ruling as “illegal, unjustified and politically motivated.” “This ruling proves that the supremacy of political enviroment is appearing to replace the supremacy of law in Europe,” the statement released on the oil company's website reads.
Earlier, in May 2016, Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union presented an opinion proposing the court to confirm the lawfulness of actions the British authorities had undertaken with regard to sanctions against Rosneft.
Yet in February 2015, the High Court of Justice of England and Wales referred a number of questions concerning a Rosneft lawsuit against Her Majesty’s Treasury, the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, and the Financial Conduct Authority to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg. Rosneft challenged the interpretation and implementation of sectoral sanctions the EU had imposed on Russia. In particular, the Russian corporation maintains that UK has too broadly defined the term “financial assistance” by including the processing of payments by banks and other financial institutions and prohibiting the issuing of, or other dealings with, Global Depositary Receipts in respect of shares which were issued before September 12, 2014, and raises the question of correct interpretation of the terms “shale” and “waters deeper than 150 meters” in the EU documents.
In its turn, the High Court turned to the EU Court of Justice seeking its guidance with regard to the question if the EU Court has jurisdiction to give a preliminary ruling on the validity of EU legislation concerning sanctions and to the extent that it has jurisdiction, if it is contrary to the principles of legal certainty for Britain to impose criminal penalties for infringements on the sanctions, as well as the validity of interpretation of the EU restrictive measures in UK.
In the summer of 2014, the U.S. banned the supply of offshore hydrocarbon production equipment to Russia, including for oil production in the Arctic. The European Union later banned their manufacturers from exporting oil industry technology and equipment to Russia, specifically for deep seabed mining, Arctic production and shale oil projects.
In October 2014, Rosneft lodged a separate application with the ECJ along with four other Russian companies, in which it contested the legality of sanctions under European law.