Freezing of funds – Annulment by the General Court

Judgment

T-579/11

12.02.2015

Parties

Jurisdiction

Formation

Judge Rapporteur

Advocate General

Subject-matter

Application for annulment

Tarif Akhras

v.

Council of the European Union

General Court

7th Ch.

I. Ulloa Rubio

/

Common foreign and security policy

Key-words

Common foreign and security policy — Freezing of funds — Rights of the defence — Obligation to state reasons — Manifest error of assessment — Right to life — Right to property — Right to respect for private life — Proportionality               

Significant points

  1. With regard to the specific context of the inclusion of the applicant’s name in the lists annexed to the contested acts preceding 23 March 2012, the Council relied on the following two reasons: ‘Founder of the Akhras Group (commodities, trading, processing and logistics), Homs’ and ‘Provides economic support for the Syrian regime’.

With regard to the first reason, it must be stated that it merely describes the applicant’s status. The fact that he is the founder of an industrial group does not necessarily or automatically mean that the applicant satisfies the general criteria set out in paragraph 67 above. Therefore, the statement that the applicant is the founder of a Syrian industrial group cannot constitute a fact capable of being stated as an adequate and specific reason for the contested acts preceding 23 March 2012.

With regard to the second reason, it must be held that, in the present case, the Council merely reproduced one of the criteria that would justify including the applicant’s name in the lists at issue, that is to say, the criterion relating to support for the incumbent regime, as introduced by Decision 2011/522 (see paragraph 5 above). The mere reproduction of the criterion, without any other information to support it, cannot serve as a sufficient statement of reasons on the part of the Council.

  1. It is therefore necessary to uphold the third plea in law and to annul the contested acts preceding 23 March 2012 for a failure to state reasons in so far as those acts concern the applicant.

Noteworthy

Once again, the General Court has annulled in part a decision of freezing of funds for failure to state reasons.