EU reverses decision to place sanctions against Bank Mellat ex-chairperson
The Council of the European Union on August 3 reversed its decision to place sanctions against Dr. Ali Divandari, the former chairperson of Bank Mellat, the largest private bank in Iran, IRNA reported.
According to a leading Indian English daily TOI, a London-based Indian solicitors firm Zaiwalla and Co solicitors represented Dr Divandari's case in the European Court of Justice to challenge the legality of the sanctions.
Bank Mellat has been fighting accusations of involvement in nuclear 'proliferation-sensitive' activities in Iran. The EU Council had listed Dr Divandari in the designated list in July 2010 on the basis that it was a legitimate part of its regime of sanctions designed to stop Iranian nuclear proliferation. He was at the time Chairman of Bank Mellat.
The Council had designated the Bank Mellat as it considered it to be involved in Iran's attempts to develop nuclear weapons and then went a step further, said Zaiwalla, by deciding to personally designate the Bank's chairperson too on the basis of his job title.
Both the bank and Dr Divandari challenged the sanctions in the European Courts. After a long process, both were finally given a hearing before the General Court of the European Union in May 2012. Both parties presented their cases and argued that it was not lawful to impose sanctions against private sector institutions or their employees. Iran's private sector has no role to play in the acts of the Iranian state, they argued.
The EU Council made its decision to 'de-list' Dr Divandari shortly after this hearing, before the Court delivers its judgment.
In its letter to Zaiwalla and Co, a copy of which the TOI had access to, the EU Council said in reference to Dr Divandari, that the Council has decided to remove him from the list of designated persons and entities to Annexe II of the Council's 2010 decision.
The UN Declaration's preamble requires the recognition by every State of the 'inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family to be a foundation of freedom of justice and peace in the world'. Therefore, all EU states, and indeed the EU Council, had an obligation under international law not to injure innocent private citizens, Zaiwalla had stated.