Monday

30th May 2016

Former Ukraine leader files court case against EU blacklist

  • Visitors at the Museum of Corruption - Yanukovych's former home (Photo: aleksandr.andreiko)

Ukraine's former leader, Viktor Yanukovych, his sons, and six other people on an EU blacklist have launched court proceedings to get their assets unfrozen.

Andriy Portnov, a former aide to Yanukovych, got the ball rolling by lodging a case on 29 April at the EU court in Luxembourg.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Mykola Azarov, the former PM, and his son, Oleksii, followed suit with two separate cases on 12 May.

Yanukovych and his sons, Viktor junior and Oleksandr, lodged three separate cases on 14 May.

Serhiy Kurchenko, a businessman linked to the old ruling clan, filed one on 15 May. Andrii Kluyev, the former president's chief of staff, and his brother, Serhii Kluyev, a businessman, also lodged two separate cases the same day.

All the complaints call for an "annulment" of the EU sanctions decision.

Four other Ukrainians on the blacklist have also written to the EU Council requesting access to evidence in a sign of more lawsuits to come.

The four men are: former prosecutor general Viktor Pshonka and his son Artem; former spy chief Oleksandr Yakymenko; and former interior minister Vitalii Zakharchenko.

The EU froze the assets in Europe of 18 Ukrainians on 6 March, two weeks after Yanukovych fled the country, in order to help the new authorities repatriate embezzled funds.

Ukraine's new prosecutor general has estimated the old elite, or "Familia", stole up to €70 billion in its four years in power.

Some of the wealth is on display in Yanukovych's former home, the Mezhyhirya complex outside Kiev, where documents show he spent €31 million on light fittings alone, and which has now been made into a Museum of Corruption.

For their part, the Azarovs are being represented by a German law firm, Alber & Geiger.

It says EU sanctions cannot be imposed against people after they left power, because sanctions are meant to influence government behaviour, not to punish people or to claw back money.

It usually takes the EU court between 18 months and two and a half years to reach a verdict in sanctions cases. If either side appeals, it could take another 18 months before a final ruling.

In a quirk of EU law, plaintiffs are allowed to use frozen funds to pay their lawyers to fight the EU.

But even if the Yanukovych clan wins, it could be a partial victory.

For one, the EU court has never awarded financial damages in a sanctions case, even if the plaintiff's funds were frozen for years.

Meanwhile, if the Familia wins, but on a legal technicality, EU countries can re-blacklist them after correcting the procedural glitch highlighted by the judges. Any new decision would have to be fought afresh in court.

News in Brief

  1. Juncker to seek renewed backing for TTIP talks
  2. EP president rules out return to German politics
  3. Austrian far-right wants to probe election fraud accusations
  4. Irish PM warns Brexit could bring back border controls
  5. Truckmakers risk record cartel fine
  6. London mayor teams up with British PM on Brexit
  7. Syrian refugees sue Denmark over immigration law
  8. Ukraine bans Gorbachev for backing Crimea's seizure

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCAEducation and Training 2020 - Giving Young People the Workplace Skills They Need
  2. EPSUTrade Unions Back New Undeclared Work Platform
  3. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceCould targeting children’s fitness boost academic performance?
  4. World VisionDeclares the World Humanitarian Summit a Positive Step in a Longer Journey to Ending Need
  5. EJCPresident Dr. Moshe Kantor on Brexit and the Jewish Question
  6. Swedish EnterprisesNew rules for posted workers - Better Protection or the End of Posting ?
  7. World VisionWhy The EU Needs to Put Children at the Centre of Emergencies - In Their Words
  8. ACCASustainability Reporting in Danger of Losing Its Momentum Says ACCA and CDSB
  9. Dialogue PlatformDiversity as Heritage of Humanity! Join the “Colors of the World“ Show at the EP
  10. Centre Maurits CoppietersNew Responses to the Basque Peace Process? MEP Juaristi on Stateless Challenges Conference
  11. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceImproving Cardiovascular Health Begins by Closing the Gap in Sex Disparities
  12. IPHRBrussels Talks to Take Stock of Human Rights in Turkmenistan

Latest News

  1. Juncker agrees to visit Russia in June
  2. Pro-Brexit Tories predict Cameron leadership challenge
  3. Merkel and Hollande pledge unity at Verdun ceremony
  4. Russia mocks ex-Nato chief's new Kiev job
  5. Poland, migration and environment on the agenda THIS WEEK
  6. Does Italy need €14bn of EU budget waivers?
  7. More than 700 migrants feared dead in Mediterranean
  8. EU to scrutinise environmental action