(CN) – As it did with his brother in February, the European General Court thawed an asset freeze Wednesday that has plagued a onetime administration official for former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych.
Back in 2014 after Yanukovych’s government collapsed, the Council of the European Union brought sweeping sanctions against the former president and his inner circle.
Andriy Petrovych Klyuyev, who had been Yanukovych’s head of administration, was sanctioned on the basis of a pending embezzlement investigation.
Though the sanctions were renewed every year, most recently this past March, today’s ruling from the General Court notes that the council ignored repeated updates that the pretrial investigation concluded some time ago.
“The investigation in the criminal proceedings had been formally suspended, first on 22 April 2015, reopened subsequently on 4 March 2016 and again formally suspended the following day, namely on 5 March 2016,” the ruling from the Sixth Chamber states. “The applicant notified the council of that suspension on numerous occasions.”
Meanwhile, the ruling emphasizes, the council should have recognized that the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office was “repeating constantly the same information on the pretrial investigation without mentioning new information regarding its progress, namely its suspension.
Citing the court’s previous ruling that annulled the sanctions against Klyuyev’s brother, Sergiy Klyuyev, the ruling says this fact “weakens the reliability of the information it provided and how up to date it was.”
Another factor emphasized in the ruling is that Austrian prosecutors “raised serious doubts with regard to whether the evidence in support of the investigation by the Ukrainian authorities, which provided the basis for the council’s decision to retain Mr. Klyuyev’s name on the list, is sufficiently substantiated.”
With such evidence in mind, the ruling states, the council was “required to make further enquiries of those authorities or, at the very least, seek clarification from them, in order to establish whether the evidence available to it, that is to say, rather vague information, merely confirming the existence of a pre-trial investigation against the applicant, still forms a sufficiently solid factual basis to justify retaining the applicant’s name on the list.”
“It follows from all the foregoing that the council committed a manifest error of assessment in considering that it was not required to take into account the evidence produced by the applicant and the arguments developed by him or to make further enquiries of the Ukrainian authorities, despite the fact that that evidence and those arguments were such as to give rise to legitimate doubts regarding the reliability of the information provided by the PGO in relation to [confidential] brought against the applicant,” the ruling states.
Back in 2016, Klyuyev also successfully challenged his designation for the period March 2014 to March 2015. He was unsuccessful, however, regarding his challenge to the 2015-2016 restrictive measures.
Today’s ruling annuls the sanctions that went from 2017 to 2018, but it leaves intact the 2016-2017 measures.