EU court strikes down sanctions on former Ukrainian premiers

An EU court on Thursday struck down asset freezes against former Ukrainian prime ministers Mykola Azarov and Sergej Arbuzov, as well as three other individuals, arguing that there was insufficient evidence against them.

In March 2014, following former president Viktor Yanukovych's ouster, the European Union began imposing asset freezes on individuals suspected of embezzling Ukrainian state funds, with a view that the state would receive them at a later date.

Azarov and Arbuzov are the most senior Ukrainian figures to have their asset freezes overturned, following a slew of complaints against the EU's sanctions policy towards the country.

The former premiers - as well as Azarov's son Oleksii, former energy minister Edward Stavytskyi and Sergiy Klyuyev, the brother of a top presidential aide - were all targeted for being under investigation in Ukraine for embezzling and transferring state funds out of the country.

However all implicated individuals appealed, and on Thursday the EU's General Court overturned their inclusion on the sanctions list from March 2014 until March 2015.

The Luxembourg-based judges argued that the Ukrainian public prosecutor had shown only that large amounts of state funding had been misappropriated and transferred out of the country, without identifying the perpetrators.

A letter from the Ukrainian public prosecutor used as justification for the asset freeze "provides no details concerning the matters specifically alleged against the five Ukrainians or the nature of their responsibility," the court said in a statement.

The judgement follows a similar ruling in October on a complaint brought by Andriy Portnov, an aide Yanukovych.

Thursday's ruling can be appealed within two months before the European Court of Justice.

Last update: Fri, 24/06/2016 - 08:49

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