EU court partially nixes sanctions on Ukraine ex-president Yanukovych

An EU court has partially annulled sanctions imposed on former Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych and two associates following his ouster, arguing Thursday that there was insufficient evidence against them for the period in question.

In March 2014, 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.

Thursday's verdict - which strikes down asset freezes imposed from 2014 to 2015 - also covers complaints brought by a son of Yanukovych, Oleksandr Viktorovych, and the president's former chief of staff, Andriy Klyuyev.

The three were among a group of individuals targeted by the EU because they were under investigation in Ukraine at the time for embezzling and transferring state funds out of the country.

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

A letter from the public prosecutor used as justification for the asset freeze "does not provide any detail of the specific acts the three Ukrainians are alleged to have committed, or of their liability for those acts," the court said in a statement.

The sanctions against the three individuals were extended in March 2015, but the reason was changed, citing them as the subjects of criminal proceedings into the misappropriation of public funds.

A series of letters used to justify the extension does provide sufficient proof, the court ruled, arguing that in this case the asset freezes were appropriate.

In March, the EU again extended the sanctions by a year. An overall 16 people remain affected.

Last update: Thu, 15/09/2016 - 18:06
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