Language of document :

JUDGMENT OF THE GENERAL COURT (Fourth Chamber)

6 September 2013 (*)(1)

(Common foreign and security policy – Restrictive measures against Iran with the aim of preventing nuclear proliferation – Freezing of funds – Obligation to state reasons – Rights of the defence – Right to effective judicial protection – Manifest error of assessment – Right to property – Proportionality)

In Case T‑434/11,

Europäisch-Iranische Handelsbank AG, established in Hamburg (Germany), represented initially by S. Ashley and S. Gadhia, Solicitors, H. Hohmann, lawyer, D. Wyatt QC and R. Blakeley, Barrister, and subsequently by S. Ashley, H. Hohmann, D. Wyatt, R. Blakeley, and by S. Jeffrey and A. Irvine, Solicitors,

applicant,

v

Council of the European Union, represented by F. Naert and R. Liudvinaviciute-Cordeiro, acting as Agents,

defendant,

supported by

European Commission, represented initially by E. Paasivirta and S. Boelaert, and subsequently by E. Paasivirta and M. Konstantinidis, acting as Agents,

and by

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, represented by S. Behzadi-Spencer, A. Robinson and C. Murrell, acting as Agents, and by J. Swift QC and R. Palmer, Barrister,

interveners,

APPLICATION for annulment, first, of Council Decision 2011/299/CFSP of 23 May 2011 amending Decision 2010/413/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Iran (OJ 2011 L 136, p. 65); secondly, of Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 503/2011 of 23 May 2011 implementing Regulation (EU) No 961/2010 on restrictive measures against Iran (OJ 2011 L 136, p. 26); thirdly, of Council Decision 2011/783/CFSP of 1 December 2011 amending Decision 2010/413/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Iran (OJ 2011 L 319, p. 71); fourthly, of Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1245/2011 of 1 December 2011 implementing Regulation (EU) No 961/2010 on restrictive measures against Iran (OJ 2011 L 319, p. 11); and, fifthly, of Council Regulation (EU) No 267/2012 of 23 March 2012 concerning restrictive measures against Iran and repealing Regulation (EU) No 961/2010 (OJ 2012 L 88, p. 1), in so far as those acts concern the applicant,

THE GENERAL COURT (Fourth Chamber),

composed of I. Pelikánová, President, K. Jürimäe (Rapporteur) and M. van der Woude, Judges,

Registrar: N. Rosner, Administrator,

having regard to the written procedure and further to the hearing on 20 February 2013,

gives the following

Judgment

 Background to the dispute

1        The applicant, Europäisch-Iranische Handelsbank AG, is a German bank specialising in services and businesses relating to or in Iran.

2        On 26 July 2010, the Council of the European Union adopted Decision 2010/413/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Iran and repealing Common Position 2007/140/CFSP (OJ 2010 L 195, p. 39). Article 20(1)(b) of Decision 2010/413 provides that the funds and economic resources of the persons and entities listed in Annex II to that decision are to be frozen.

3        On 25 October 2010, following the adoption of Decision 2010/413, the Council adopted Regulation (EU) No 961/2010 on restrictive measures against Iran and repealing Regulation (EC) No 423/2007 (OJ 2010 L 281, p. 1). Subparagraphs (a) and (b) of Article 16(2) of Regulation No 961/2010 provide that the funds and economic resources of the persons, entities and bodies listed in Annex VIII to that regulation are to be frozen.

4        By Decision 2011/299/CFSP of 23 May 2011 amending Decision 2010/413 concerning restrictive measures against Iran (OJ 2011 L 136, p. 65), and Implementing Regulation (EU) No 503/2011 of 23 May 2011 implementing Regulation No 961/2010 on restrictive measures against Iran (OJ 2011 L 136, p. 26) (together, ‘the measures of 23 May 2011’), the Council, inter alia, entered the applicant’s name on the lists of persons and entities in Annex II to Decision 2010/413 and Annex VIII to Regulation No 961/2010 respectively (‘the 2010 lists’).

5        In the measures of 23 May 2011, the Council gave the following reasons for the freezing of the applicant’s funds and economic resources:

‘[The applicant] has played a key role in assisting a number of Iranian banks with alternative options for completing transactions disrupted by EU sanctions targeting Iran. [The applicant] has been noted acting as the advising bank and intermediary bank in transactions with designated Iranian entities. For example, [the applicant] froze the accounts of EU-designated Bank Saderat Iran and Bank Mellat located at [Europäisch-Iranische Handelsbank (‘EIH’)] Hamburg in early August 2010. Shortly afterwards, [the applicant] resumed Euro-denominated business with Bank Mellat and Bank Saderat Iran using EIH accounts with a non-designated Iranian bank. In August 2010, [the applicant] was setting up a system to enable routine payments to be made to Bank Saderat London and Future Bank Bahrain, in such a way as to avoid EU sanctions. As of October 2010, [the applicant] was continuing to act as a conduit for payments by sanctioned Iranian banks, including Bank Mellat and Bank Saderat. These sanctioned banks are to direct their payments to [the applicant] via Iran’s Bank of Industry and Mine. In 2009, [the applicant] was used by Post Bank in a sanctions evasion scheme which involved handling transactions on behalf of UN-designated Bank Sepah. EU-designated Bank Mellat is one of [the applicant’s] parent banks.’

6        By three letters of 24 May 2011, the Council informed the applicant that it had been included on the 2010 lists.

7        By letter of 10 June 2011, the applicant requested the Council to provide it with additional information regarding the inclusion of its name on the 2010 lists, and with the documents on which the Council based its assessment.

8        By letter of 1 July 2011, the Council informed the applicant, first, that the reasons for the inclusion of its name on the 2010 lists, as described in the measures of 23 May 2011, were set out in a proposal from a Member State, in accordance with Article 23(2) of Decision 2010/413, and, secondly, that the Council did not have any additional information relating to the applicant. The Council also took that opportunity to send the applicant a copy of the listing proposal.

9        By letter of 25 July 2011, the applicant requested that a hearing by Council representatives, or a meeting with them, be organised (‘the request for a hearing’).

10      By letter of 29 July 2011, the applicant recalled the request for a hearing, submitted its observations on its inclusion on the 2010 lists and requested that the listing decision be reconsidered.

11      By Decision 2011/783/CFSP of 1 December 2011 amending Decision 2010/413 concerning restrictive measures against Iran (OJ 2011 L 319, p. 71), and Implementing Regulation (EU) No 1245/2011 of 1 December 2011 implementing Regulation No 961/2010 on restrictive measures against Iran (OJ 2011 L 319, p. 11) (together, ‘the measures of 1 December 2011’), the Council, inter alia, maintained the entry of the applicant’s name on the 2010 lists.

12      By letter of 5 December 2011, the Council informed the applicant that, following a review of the 2010 lists and after considering the applicant’s observations in the letter of 29 July 2011, the applicant’s name would remain on those lists, and sent the applicant a copy of the measures of 1 December 2011. In that letter the Council stated, inter alia, that the fact that the applicant provided prohibited financial services to listed entities constituted, in its view, support for Iran’s nuclear proliferation-sensitive activities or for the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems by Iran (‘nuclear proliferation’).

13      By letter of 6 January 2012, the applicant reiterated the request for a hearing, recalled its observations on the inclusion of its name on the 2010 lists, and requested the Council’s written response to those observations for the purposes of a review of the listing decision.

14      On 23 March 2012, the Council adopted Regulation (EU) No 267/2012 concerning restrictive measures against Iran and repealing Regulation No 961/2010 (OJ 2012 L 88, p. 1) (together with the measures of 23 May 2011 and the measures of 1 December 2011, ‘the contested measures’). Subparagraphs (a) and (b) of Article 23(2) of Regulation No 267/2012 provide that the funds and economic resources of the persons, entities or bodies listed in Annex IX to that regulation are to be frozen. The applicant’s name is included on the list set out in that annex (together with the 2010 lists, ‘the Lists’).

15      By letter of 24 April 2012, the Council replied to the applicant’s letter of 6 January 2012 and, in particular, refused the request for a hearing.

16      By letter of 11 December 2012, the Council, inter alia, informed the applicant that its name had been included on the list in Annex IX to Regulation No 267/2012, and set a deadline for submission of new observations regarding that listing.

17      By letter of 31 January 2013, the applicant submitted its observations on the Council’s letter of 11 December 2012. In essence, it reiterated the request for a hearing and requested the Council’s written response to its observations.

 Procedure and forms of order sought

18      By application lodged at the Court Registry on 3 August 2011, the applicant brought the present action.

19      By separate document, lodged at the Court Registry on the same day, the applicant applied, pursuant to Article 76a of the Rules of Procedure of the General Court, for the case to be decided under an expedited procedure. By decision of 12 September 2011, the President of the Fourth Chamber of the General Court refused that application.

20      By documents lodged at the Court Registry on 27 October and 14 November 2011 respectively, the European Commission and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland applied for leave to intervene in support of the form of order sought by the Council. By order of 23 January 2012, the President of the Fourth Chamber of the General Court granted them leave to intervene.

21      By letter lodged at the Court Registry on 19 January 2012, the applicant requested permission to amend the form of order sought, in the light of the adoption of the measures of 1 December 2011. By decision of 12 March 2012, the Fourth Chamber of the General Court authorised the lodging of a statement amending the form of order sought and the pleas in the action and, to that end, set the applicant a deadline expiring on 23 April 2012.

22      By document lodged at the Court Registry on 23 April 2012, the applicant amended the form of order sought and its pleas in law in the light of the adoption of the measures of 1 December 2011 (‘the first amendment of the form of order sought’).

23      By letter lodged at the Court Registry on 27 April 2012, the applicant again amended the form of order sought and its pleas in law in the light of the adoption of Regulation No 267/2012 (‘the second amendment of the form of order sought’).

24      By documents lodged at the Court Registry on 20 June and 25 June 2012 respectively, the Council and the United Kingdom submitted their observations on the first and second amendments of the form of order sought.

25      Upon hearing the report of the Judge-Rapporteur, the General Court (Fourth Chamber) decided to open the oral procedure and, by way of measures of organisation of procedure provided for under Article 64 of the Rules of Procedure, put questions to the parties in writing, which they answered within the prescribed period.

26      The parties presented oral argument and answered the questions put by the Court at the hearing on 20 February 2013.

27      In the application and the first and second amendments of the form of order sought, the applicant claims that the Court should:

–        annul, with immediate effect, the contested measures in so far as they concern the applicant;

–        declare that Article 20(1)(b) of Decision 2010/413, Article 16(2) of Regulation No 961/2010 and Article 23(2) of Regulation No 267/2012 are inapplicable to the applicant;

–        order the Council to pay the costs.

28      The Council, supported by the Commission, contends that the Court should:

–        dismiss the action as unfounded;

–        in the alternative, declare, in the event of annulment, that the effects of Decisions 2011/299 and 2011/783 are maintained until such time as the annulment of Implementing Regulation No 503/2011, Implementing Regulation No 1245/2011 and Regulation No 267/2012 takes effect and not annul those regulations with immediate effect;

–        order the applicant to pay the costs.

29      The United Kingdom contends that the Court should dismiss the action as unfounded.

 Law

30      In support of its action, the applicant puts forward four pleas in law and raises a plea of illegality. The pleas allege (i) breach of the obligation to state reasons, of the applicant’s rights of defence and of its right to effective judicial protection; (ii) manifest error of assessment; (iii) breach of the principle of protection of legitimate expectations, of the principle of legal certainty and of the right to good administration; and (iv) breach of the principle of proportionality, of the applicant’s right to property and of its freedom to conduct a business. The plea of illegality is raised against Article 20(1)(b) of Decision 2010/413, Article 16(2)(b) of Regulation No 961/2010 and, in consequence of the second amendment of the form of order sought, Article 23(2) of Regulation No 267/2012.

31      The Court considers it appropriate to examine those pleas in law and the plea of illegality by initially examining the first, second and third pleas in the order of submission, before going on to examine the plea of illegality and, lastly, the fourth plea.

 The first plea: breach of the obligation to state reasons, of the rights of the defence and of the right to effective judicial protection

32      The first plea may be divided into two parts: the first alleging breach of the obligation to state reasons, and the second alleging breach of the rights of the defence and of the right to effective judicial protection.

 First part: breach of the obligation to state reasons

33      By the first part of the first plea, the applicant claims that the Council breached the obligation to state reasons in that the statement of reasons for the contested measures is vague and imprecise and did not enable the applicant to respond to the Council’s complaints. First of all, the Council did not specify under which provision of Article 20 of Decision 2010/413, of Article 16 of Regulation No 961/2010 or of Article 23 of Regulation No 267/2012 the applicant’s name was included on the Lists. Secondly, the reasons for listing lacked clarity and precision as regards the transactions allegedly carried out and payments allegedly made by the applicant, and as regards the designated entities concerned.

34      The Council, supported by the Commission and the United Kingdom, contests the merits of the applicant’s arguments. In particular, the Council contends that it is apparent from the reasons stated in the contested measures that the listing is based both on the consideration that the applicant assisted the designated entities in evading or avoiding the restrictive measures adopted in their case, as provided for in Article 20(1)(b) of Decision 2010/413 and Article 16(2)(b) of Regulation No 961/2010, and on the consideration that, in so doing, the applicant itself was engaged in, directly associated with, or provided support for nuclear proliferation within the meaning of Article 20(1)(b) of Decision 2010/413 and Article 16(2)(a) of Regulation No 961/2010.

35      In the first place, it must be borne in mind that, according to a consistent body of case-law, the purpose of the obligation to state the reasons on which an act adversely affecting an individual is based, which is a corollary of the principle of respect for the rights of the defence, is, first, to provide the person concerned with sufficient information to make it possible to ascertain whether the act is well founded or whether it is vitiated by a defect which may permit its legality to be contested before the Courts of the European Union and, second, to enable the latter to review the legality of that act (see Case C‑417/11 P Council v Bamba [2012] ECR I-0000, paragraph 49 and the case-law cited).

36      The statement of reasons required by Article 296 TFEU and, specifically in the present case, by Article 24(3) of Decision 2010/413, Article 36(3) of Regulation No 961/2010 and Article 46(3) of Regulation No 267/2012 must disclose in a clear and unequivocal fashion the reasoning followed by the institution which adopted the measure in such a way as to enable the person concerned to ascertain the reasons for the measures and to enable the court having jurisdiction to exercise its power of review (see, to that effect, Council v Bamba, paragraph 35 above, paragraph 50).

37      The obligation to state reasons thus laid down constitutes an essential principle of European Union law which may be derogated from only for compelling reasons. The statement of reasons must therefore, in principle, be notified to the person concerned at the same time as the act adversely affecting him, for failure to state the reasons cannot be remedied by the fact that the person concerned learns the reasons for the act during the proceedings before the Courts of the European Union. Furthermore, observance of the obligation to state reasons is all the more important in the case of an initial decision freezing an entity’s funds, because it constitutes the sole safeguard enabling the party concerned to make effective use of the legal remedies available to it to challenge the lawfulness of that decision, given that it has no right to be heard before the decision is adopted (Case T‑390/08 Bank Melli Iran v Council [2009] ECR II‑3967, paragraph 80).

38      Unless, therefore, overriding considerations pertaining to the security of the European Union or of its Member States or to the conduct of their international relations militate against the communication of certain matters, the Council is bound, by virtue of Article 24(3) of Decision 2010/413, Article 36(3) of Regulation No 961/2010 and Article 46(3) of Regulation No 267/2012, to apprise the entity affected by a measure adopted under Article 20(1)(b) of Decision 2010/413, Article 16(2) of Regulation No 961/2010 or Article 23(2) of Regulation No 267/2012 of the actual and specific reasons why the Council considers that provision to be applicable to that entity. The Council must thus state the facts and points of law on which the legal justification of the measure depends and the considerations which led the Council to adopt it (see, to that effect, Bank Melli Iran v Council, paragraph 37 above, paragraph 81 and the case-law cited).

39      The statement of reasons required by Article 296 TFEU and, specifically in the present case, by Article 24(3) of Decision 2010/413, Article 36(3) of Regulation No 961/2010 and Article 46(3) of Regulation No 267/2012 must, however, be appropriate to the act at issue and the context in which it was adopted. The requirements to be satisfied by the statement of reasons depend on the circumstances of each case, in particular the content of the measure in question, the nature of the reasons given and the interest which the addressees of the measure, or other parties to whom it is of direct and individual concern, may have in obtaining explanations. It is not necessary for the reasoning to go into all the relevant facts and points of law, since the question whether the statement of reasons is sufficient must be assessed with regard not only to its wording but also to its context and to all the legal rules governing the matter (see, to that effect, Council v Bamba, paragraph 35 above, paragraph 53 and the case-law cited).

40      In particular, the reasons given for a measure adversely affecting a person are sufficient if that measure was adopted in circumstances known to that person which enable him to understand the scope of the measure concerning him (see Council v Bamba, paragraph 35 above, paragraph 54 and the case-law cited).

41      In the second place, it should be noted that the conditions for listing the name of a natural or legal person are laid down in virtually identical terms in Article 20(1)(b) of Decision 2010/413, Article 16(2) of Regulation No 961/2010 and Article 23(2) of Regulation No 267/2012. Those provisions lay down alternative designation criteria.

42      It must be stated in that regard that, on the one hand, the implementation of Article 16(2)(a) of Regulation No 961/2010, Article 23(2)(a) of Regulation No 267/2012 and the equivalent provisions of Article 20(1)(b) of Decision 2010/413 requires that the entity concerned be engaged in or directly associated with or provide support for nuclear proliferation (see, to that effect, Bank Melli Iran v Council, paragraph 37 above, paragraph 57) (‘the first criterion’). On the other hand, the implementation of Article 16(2)(b) of Regulation No 961/2010, Article 23(2)(b) of Regulation No 267/2012 and the equivalent provisions of Article 20(1)(b) of Decision 2010/413 requires that the entity concerned have assisted a designated person, entity or body in evading the restrictive measures or in violating them (‘the second criterion’).

43      In addition to indicating the legal basis of the measure adopted, the obligation to state reasons by which the Council is bound relates precisely to the matters set out in the preceding paragraph (see, by analogy, Bank Melli Iran v Council, paragraph 37 above, paragraph 83).

44      Furthermore, it is apparent from the case-law that failure to refer to a precise provision need not necessarily constitute an infringement of essential procedural requirements when the legal basis for the measure may be determined from other parts of the measure. However, such explicit reference is indispensable where, in its absence, the parties concerned and the Courts of the European Union are left uncertain as to the precise legal basis (Case 45/86 Commission v Council [1987] ECR 1493, paragraph 9).

45      In the present case, it must be stated at the outset that it is unequivocally clear from the contested measures that the listing was carried out on the basis of Article 20(1)(b) of Decision 2010/413, Article 16(2) of Regulation No 961/2010 and Article 23(2) of Regulation No 267/2012. First, it is evident from Article 2 of Decision 2011/299 that the applicant’s name, which appears in Annex I to that decision, was included in Annex II to Decision 2010/413, which lists the persons and entities referred to in Article 20(1)(b) of Decision 2010/413. Secondly, it is evident from Article 1 of Implementing Regulation No 503/2011 that the applicant’s name, which appears in Annex I to that regulation, was included in Annex VIII to Regulation No 961/2010, which lists the persons and entities referred to in Article 16(2) of Regulation No 961/2010. Thirdly, the entry of the applicant’s name on the 2010 lists was maintained by the measures of 1 December 2011. Since those measures do not contain any additional details of the grounds for listing – except for the addition, in the letter of 5 December 2011, of the consideration that, by providing financial services to listed entities, the applicant provides support for nuclear proliferation – it must be concluded that the two legal bases identified in the measures of 23 May 2011 were confirmed. Fourthly, as regards Regulation No 267/2012, the applicant’s name appears in Annex IX thereto, the heading of which expressly refers to Article 23(2) of that regulation.

46      In those circumstances, and taking into account the fact that, as stated in paragraph 34 above and as is apparent, moreover, from the letter of 5 December 2011, the Council considers the contested measures to be based both on the first and second criteria, and that it bases the statement of reasons with regard to the first criterion on that relating to the second, it is appropriate to examine at the outset the statement of reasons for the contested measures with regard to the second criterion.

47      First, it must be stated that it is clear from the grounds of the contested measures that the Council intended to base the adoption of the restrictive measures taken in respect of the applicant on the second criterion. It is stated in those grounds that ‘[the applicant] played a key role in assisting a number of Iranian banks with alternative options for completing transactions disrupted by EU sanctions targeting Iran’; that it ‘[acted] as the advising bank and intermediary bank in transactions with designated Iranian entities’; that it ‘[set] up a system to enable routine payments to be made to Bank Saderat London and Future Bank Bahrain, in such a way as to avoid EU sanctions’; and ‘was used by Post Bank in a sanctions evasion scheme’. Those phrases can reasonably be interpreted as an assertion that the applicant assisted the listed banks in evading or violating the restrictive measures taken against them. Consequently, the legal basis of the entry and maintenance of the applicant’s name on the Lists – Article 20(1)(b) of Decision 2010/413, Article 16(2)(b) of Regulation No 961/2010 and Article 23(2)(b) of Regulation No 267/2012 – is apparent to the requisite legal standard, in accordance with the requirements referred to in paragraphs 42 to 44 above.

48      Secondly, it must be observed that the grounds of the contested measures mention four examples illustrating the fact that the applicant, according to the Council, provided assistance to listed entities in evading or violating the restrictive measures taken in their case. Those four examples are as follows:

–        the applicant carried out euro-denominated business with Bank Mellat and Bank Saderat Iran, after the restrictive measures had been adopted against it, using its accounts with a non-designated Iranian bank (‘first example’);

–        the applicant set up a system, in August 2010, to enable it to make routine payments to Bank Saderat London and Future Bank Bahrain (‘second example’);

–        the applicant continued, in October 2010, to act as a conduit for payments by designated Iranian banks, including Bank Mellat and Bank Saderat, which were to direct their payments to the applicant via Iran’s Bank of Industry and Mine (‘third example’);

–        the applicant was used, in 2009, by Post Bank in a scheme which involved handling transactions on behalf of Bank Sepah (‘fourth example’).

49      By those four examples the Council, contrary to what is claimed by the applicant, set out the actual and specific reasons why it considered that the applicant was providing assistance to listed entities, since it identified the nature and beneficiaries of, and the period relevant to, the transactions referred to in the grounds of the contested measures.

50      First, the Council described the nature of the support, namely financial support. In particular, it is evident from the grounds of the contested measures that the support took the form of the receipt of payments made by designated banks via Iran’s Bank of Industry and Mine (third example) or consisted in the establishment of a system to enable payments to be made to designated banks (second example), to which it must be added that the wording of the first and fourth examples is such that they are capable of covering both the receipt and the making of such payments.

51      As regards the first, third and fourth examples, while the statement of reasons provided admittedly does not explain the operation of the activities in detail, it must nevertheless be noted that the applicant was able, as is apparent from its written pleadings, to establish a link between those allegations and the procedure known as the ‘Third Way’ (‘the Third Way procedure’). According to the applicant, that procedure gives a designated entity the opportunity to discharge a debt, arising from an obligation predating its designation, due to a creditor established within the European Union, by transferring assets for the attention of that creditor via a non-designated entity.

52      Moreover, as regards the second example, read in conjunction with the first and fourth examples, it is true that the Council does not further specify the arrangements for the operation of the alleged ‘system to enable routine payments to be made’. However, it is apparent to the requisite legal standard from the grounds of the contested measures that the Council claims that the applicant made it possible for routine payments to be made to Bank Saderat London and Future Bank Bahrain. In addition, it is evident from the application that the applicant made payments to beneficiaries of funds which the applicant itself received as a result of transactions carried out using the Third Way procedure. In that respect, the applicant maintains that, where required, it sought authorisation from the Bundesbank (German Central Bank) in accordance with Article 21 of Regulation No 961/2010, which dealt with transfers of funds to Iranian entities. Consequently, the applicant was able to identify the actions of which it was accused by the Council in the second example, read in conjunction with the first and fourth examples.

53      Secondly, the Council identified the beneficiaries of that support, namely Bank Mellat, Bank Saderat Iran, Bank Saderat London, Future Bank Bahrain and Bank Sepah.

54      Thirdly, the Council indicated the period relevant to the transactions – that is to say, 2009, the period commencing shortly after the beginning of August 2010, and October 2010 – and the period relevant to the establishment of the ‘system’ referred to in the second example, that is to say, August 2010.

55      In those circumstances, it must be concluded that, contrary to what is claimed by the applicant, the statement of reasons for the contested measures with regard to the second criterion is sufficient in that it enables the applicant to understand the conduct of which it is accused, and the Court to exercise its power of review.

56      This conclusion is not called in question by the other arguments raised by the applicant.

57      The applicant submits that it is not apparent from the statement of reasons whether the fact that Bank Mellat is one of its parent banks played a role in the entry of its name on the Lists. However, since, as has been concluded in paragraph 55 above, the statement of reasons for the contested measures with regard to the second criterion is sufficient, that argument must be rejected as ineffective.

58      Moreover, the applicant claims that the Council merely mentioned examples of financial transactions and thus made it impossible for the applicant to determine on how many other cases the Council was relying. However, given that the grounds of the contested measures adequately specify the actions of which the applicant is accused, it must be held that that argument is not such as to call in question the adequacy of the statement of reasons. On the other hand, it will be appropriate to limit the assessment of the merits of the contested measures to the reasons and the examples given therein. Accordingly, the applicant’s argument must be rejected as ineffective.

59      In the light of the foregoing considerations, the Court must reject the first part of the first plea in so far as it concerns the second criterion, and also the first part of the first plea in its entirety, as in part unfounded and in part ineffective, and there is no need to examine whether, as the Council indicated in the letter of 5 December 2011 and in its written pleadings in the present action, the contested measures must be considered to be supported by reasons pertaining to the first criterion also.

60      As stated in paragraph 41 above, Article 20(1)(b) of Decision 2010/413, Article 16(2) of Regulation No 961/2010 and Article 23(2) of Regulation No 267/2012 establish alternative criteria for placing an entity on the lists of persons and entities covered by the restrictive measures taken against Iran. Accordingly, even if the Council had failed to provide sufficient reasons for the contested measures with regard to the first criterion, that would not affect the legality of the contested measures, since the statement of reasons with regard to the second criterion is sufficient.

 Second part: breach of the rights of the defence and of the right to effective judicial protection

61      By the second part of the first plea, the applicant claims that the Council breached its rights of defence and its right to effective judicial protection. It puts forward, in essence, three complaints in that regard. The first alleges a failure by the Council to state reasons or to provide sufficient information. The second concerns the inadequacy of the Council’s formal review, in the absence of any meeting between the applicant and the Council’s representatives or of a hearing of the applicant. By the third complaint, the applicant claims that the Council was required to notify it in advance of its intention to enter the applicant’s name on the Lists.

62      The Council, supported by the Commission and the United Kingdom, contests the merits of those arguments. The Council contends, as a preliminary point, that, in view of the judgment in Case T‑181/08 Tay Za v Council [2010] ECR II‑1965, the rights of the defence do not apply in the present case.

63      In the first place, it may be recalled that, according to settled case-law, observance of the rights of the defence, especially the right to be heard, in all proceedings initiated against an entity which may lead to a measure adversely affecting that entity, is a fundamental principle of European Union law which must be guaranteed, even when there are no rules governing the procedure in question (see Bank Melli Iran v Council, paragraph 37 above, paragraph 91 and the case-law cited).

64      The principle of respect for the rights of the defence requires, first, that the entity concerned be informed of the evidence adduced against it to justify the measure adversely affecting it. Secondly, it must be afforded the opportunity effectively to make known its view on that evidence (see, by analogy, Case T‑228/02 Organisation des Modjahedines du peuple d’Iran v Council [2006] ECR II‑4665 (‘OMPI’), paragraph 93). By contrast, neither the legislation in question, namely Decision 2010/413, Regulation No 961/2010 and Regulation No 267/2012, nor the general principle of respect for the rights of the defence, gives the persons concerned the right to a formal hearing (see, to that effect and by analogy, Case T‑256/07 People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran v Council [2008] ECR II‑3019, paragraph 93 and the case-law cited).

65      Consequently, as regards, on the one hand, an initial measure whereby the funds of an entity are frozen, it has been held that, first, the evidence adduced against that entity should be notified to it either concomitantly with or as soon as possible after the adoption of the measure concerned. At the request of the entity concerned, it also has the right to make known its view on that evidence after the adoption of the measure (see, to that effect and by analogy, Joined Cases C‑402/05 P and C‑415/05 P Kadi and Al Barakaat International Foundation v Council and Commission [2008] ECR I‑6351 (‘Kadi’), paragraph 342, and OMPI, paragraph 64 above, paragraph 137).

66      Secondly, the parties concerned must also have the opportunity to request an immediate re-examination of the initial measure freezing their funds. The Court recognises, however, that such a hearing after the event is not automatically required in the context of an initial decision to freeze funds, in the light of the possibility that the parties concerned also have immediately to bring an action before the General Court, which also ensures that a balance is struck between observance of the fundamental rights of the persons included on the Lists and the need to take preventive measures in combating nuclear proliferation (see, to that effect and by analogy, OMPI, paragraph 64 above, paragraph 130).

67      Notification of the evidence adduced and a hearing of the parties concerned, before the adoption of the initial decision to freeze funds, would be liable to jeopardise the effectiveness of the sanctions and would thus be incompatible with the public interest objective pursued by the European Union. An initial measure freezing funds must, by its very nature, be able to benefit from a surprise effect and to be applied with immediate effect. Such a measure cannot, therefore, be the subject-matter of notification before it is implemented (see, to that effect and by analogy, OMPI, paragraph 64 above, paragraph 128).

68      As regards, on the other hand, a subsequent decision to freeze funds, it has been held that that surprise effect is no longer necessary in order to ensure that the measure is effective, with the result that the adoption of such a measure must, in principle, be preceded by notification of the incriminating evidence and by allowing the person or entity concerned an opportunity of being heard (see, to that effect and by analogy, Case C‑27/09 P France v People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran [2011] ECR I‑0000, paragraph 62).

69      In the second place, it should be borne in mind that the principle of effective judicial protection is a general principle of European Union law, to which expression is now given by Article 47 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (OJ 2010 C 83, p. 389). That principle means that the European Union authority which adopts an act imposing restrictive measures against a person or entity is bound to communicate to that person or entity the grounds on which the act is based, so far as possible either when it is adopted or, at the very least, as swiftly as possible after it has been adopted, in order to enable that person or entity to exercise its right to bring an action within the prescribed period (see, to that effect, Case C‑548/09 P Bank Melli Iran v Council [2011] ECR I‑0000, paragraph 47 and the case-law cited).

70      It is in the light of that case-law that the Court must examine, as a preliminary point, the argument raised by the Council, supported by the Commission and the United Kingdom, that the applicant cannot invoke the principle of respect for the rights of the defence. Next, the Court will examine each of the applicant’s three complaints – as referred to, in essence, in paragraph 61 above – in the following order: first, the complaint regarding a failure to state adequate reasons or to provide the applicant with sufficient information; secondly, the complaint regarding the lack of prior notice of the initial entry of the applicant’s name on the Lists; and, thirdly, the complaint concerning the inadequacy of the formal review, in the absence of any meeting between the applicant and the Council’s representatives or of a hearing of the applicant.

–       Whether the applicant may rely on the principle of respect for the rights of the defence

71      The Council, supported by the Commission and the United Kingdom, contends, in essence, that, in accordance with Tay Za v Council, paragraph 62 above, which is also applicable in this case, the rights of the defence do not apply.

72      That argument cannot be accepted.

73      First, the judgment in Tay Za v Council, paragraph 62 above, was set aside on appeal, in its entirety, by the judgment of the Court of Justice of 13 March 2012 in Case C‑376/10 P Tay Za v Council [2012] ECR I‑0000. Consequently, the findings made in the former judgment are no longer part of the legal order of the European Union and cannot properly be relied on by the Council.

74      Secondly, it is apparent from the settled case-law cited in paragraph 63 above that the rights of the defence apply in all proceedings initiated against an entity which may lead to a measure adversely affecting that entity. That is precisely the position where restrictive measures have been adopted against an entity.

75      It must be pointed out that Article 24(3) and (4) of Decision 2010/413, Article 36(3) and (4) of Regulation No 961/2010 and Article 46(3) and (4) of Regulation No 267/2012 set out provisions to safeguard the rights of the defence of entities which are subject to restrictive measures adopted under those acts. Respect for those rights is subject to review by the Courts of the European Union (see, to that effect, Bank Melli Iran v Council, paragraph 37 above, paragraph 37).

76      In those circumstances, it must be concluded that the principle of respect for the rights of the defence, as recalled in paragraphs 63 to 68 above, may be relied on by the applicant in the present case.

–       Failure to state adequate reasons or to provide the applicant with sufficient information

77      The applicant claims, in essence, that it was deprived of the opportunity to make effective representations and to defend itself adequately, given that the statement of reasons for the contested measures was imprecise and that it did not have the minimum disclosure of information required.

78      The Council, supported by the Commission and the United Kingdom, contests the merits of those arguments.

79      It must be pointed out at the outset that, as concluded in paragraph 55 above, the statement of reasons for the contested measures with regard to the second criterion is sufficient in that, inter alia, it enabled the applicant to challenge the merits of its inclusion on the Lists.

80      Next, as regards disclosure of the reasons, it is apparent from the documents in the file that the Council, in accordance with Article 24(3) of Decision 2010/413 and Article 36(3) of Regulation No 961/2010, communicated the measures of 23 May and 1 December 2011 to the applicant by letters dated 24 May and 5 December 2011 respectively. Moreover, as regards Regulation No 267/2012, as the applicant confirmed at the hearing, that regulation was only communicated to the applicant by letter of 11 December 2012, that is more than eight months after the regulation was adopted. Nevertheless, the listing of the applicant’s name in Annex IX to Regulation No 267/2012 is based on the same grounds as those that justified its entry, and the maintenance thereof, on the 2010 lists. In those circumstances, notwithstanding the belated communication of the grounds for listing the applicant in Annex IX to Regulation No 267/2012, the Council did not, as regards Regulation No 267/2012, infringe its obligation to communicate the grounds for listing to the applicant.

81      Lastly, contrary to what is claimed by the applicant, the fact that the Council indicated in its letter of 1 July 2011 that it did not have any information other than that set out in the contested measures of 23 May 2011 does not amount to a breach of the applicant’s rights of defence. The Council did not make the applicant’s defence more difficult by concealing the existence or the content of evidence on which its claims were based. On the contrary, by admitting that there was no additional relevant information in its file, it enabled the applicant to invoke that fact.

82      In those circumstances, it must be concluded that the complaint alleging a failure to state adequate reasons or to provide the applicant with sufficient information must be rejected as unfounded.

–       Lack of prior notice of the initial entry of the applicant’s name on the Lists

83      The applicant maintains, in essence, that the Council was required to notify it in advance of its intention to include the applicant’s name on the Lists, given that, unlike in the circumstances giving rise to the judgment in People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran v Council, paragraph 64 above, no ‘surprise effect’ was necessary since it had been informed of the possible adoption of restrictive measures against it. According to the applicant, it was closely supervised by the Bundesbank and the Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht (German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority); moreover, Article 21 of Regulation No 961/2010 in any event required either notification to the Bundesbank or its prior authorisation in respect of the transactions covered by that provision, depending on the circumstances; and, lastly, the applicant’s possible inclusion on the Lists was the subject of much press speculation as well as of correspondence between the Bundesanstalt für Finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht and the applicant.

84      The Council, supported by the Commission and the United Kingdom, contests the merits of those arguments.

85      As a preliminary point, it must be stated that the complaint as to the lack of prior notice of the Council’s intention to adopt restrictive measures with respect to the applicant must be regarded as being directed only at the measures of 23 May 2011. In the light of the case-law referred to in paragraphs 67 and 68 above, the surprise effect of the restrictive measures relates only to the initial entry of an entity on the list of persons and entities subject to the restrictive measures taken against Iran.

86      Principally, it must be held that the arguments put forward by the applicant in support of this complaint, as set out in paragraph 83 above, must be rejected as ineffective. It is unequivocally clear from the case-law cited in paragraph 67 above that the restrictive measures must be able to benefit from a surprise effect and that they cannot, therefore, be the subject-matter of notification before they are implemented. Accordingly, the applicant cannot reasonably claim that the conditions for a surprise effect were not met in this case.

87      Moreover and in any event, even on the assumption that the Council is required, in exceptional circumstances, to give notice in advance of its intention to adopt restrictive measures against an entity, suffice it to note that the circumstances referred to by the applicant, as set out in paragraph 83 above, are not specific to the applicant’s situation. Decision 2010/413 and Regulation No 961/2010 were published in the Official Journal of the European Union and were thus available to the public; accordingly, any person or entity maintaining a professional relationship with the listed entities or carrying out transactions with Iran is necessarily aware of the risk that it may in turn be designated by the Council. It is irrelevant in that regard that the entity concerned is the subject of rumours regarding its possible inclusion on the Lists, that it is required to seek authorisation to carry out certain transactions or that it is being supervised by the competent national authority, since it cannot be concluded with any certainty from any of those factors that that entity will be subject to restrictive measures. Furthermore, it must be noted that none of those factors is the result of anything done by the Council.

88      That conclusion is not called in question by the other arguments submitted by the applicant in connection with the present complaint.

89      First, the applicant maintains that the Council neither assessed nor established the risk of circumvention of the restrictive measures that such advance notification would have presented. Suffice it to note in that regard that since, as has been found in paragraph 87 above, the applicant has not established that the specific nature of its situation was such as to justify advance notification, it cannot criticise the Council for having relied on the case-law cited in paragraph 67 above, according to which an initial measure freezing funds and economic resources must, by its very nature, be able to benefit from a surprise effect and cannot, therefore, be the subject-matter of notification before it is implemented.

90      Secondly, the applicant asserts that such a pre-emptive approach is inappropriate in the circumstances of this case, in so far as the Council has not put forward any evidence to substantiate the allegations made against it. In fact, that argument is intended to challenge the substantive legality of the applicant’s designation; it therefore relates to the second plea, and will be examined in the context of that plea.

91      Lastly, the applicant submits that the freezing of its funds and economic resources was not the only possible option. However, that argument concerns the breach of the principle of proportionality relied on in the fourth plea and will, therefore, be examined in conjunction with that plea.

92      Accordingly, this complaint must be rejected as ineffective and, in any event, unfounded.

–       Inadequacy of the formal review in the absence of a meeting between the applicant and the Council’s representatives or of a hearing of the applicant

93      The applicant submits, in essence, that the Council infringed its right to be heard by refusing to arrange a meeting with the Council’s representatives or a hearing of the applicant by those representatives. According to the applicant, a formal review is, in those circumstances, insufficient.

94      The Council, supported by the Commission and the United Kingdom, contests the merits of those arguments.

95      It must be noted in that regard, first, that following the communication of the measures of 23 May 2011 by letters of 24 May 2011, the applicant, by letter of 10 June 2011, sought additional information about the inclusion of its name on the Lists, and disclosure of the documents on which the Council based its assessment.

96      Secondly, in response to that letter from the applicant, the Council informed it by letter of 1 July 2011 of the fact that (i) the reasons for including the applicant’s name on the Lists, as stated in the measures of 23 May 2011, were set out in a proposal from a Member State, in accordance with Article 23(2) of Decision 2010/413, and (ii) it did not have any additional information relating to the applicant. The Council also took that opportunity to send the applicant a copy of the listing proposal.

97      Thirdly, by letter of 29 July 2011 the applicant, inter alia, submitted its observations on its inclusion on the Lists and requested that it be reviewed. It claimed, in essence, that the Council could not reasonably claim that the conditions for listing, as laid down in Article 20(1)(b) of Decision 2010/413 and in Article 16 of Regulation No 961/2010, were met, given that all transactions between the applicant and the designated Iranian banks were either authorised by the Bundesbank or excepted from the relevant European Union legislation, or carried out in accordance with the rules and guidelines of the Bundesbank.

98      Fourthly, following the adoption of the measures of 1 December 2011, the Council informed the applicant by letter of 5 December 2011 of the adoption of those measures and replied to the observations made in the applicant’s letter of 29 July 2011. On that occasion it stated, inter alia, that even if, as the applicant claimed in its letter of 29 July 2011, the transactions in question were authorised or carried out in accordance with the guidelines issued by the competent national authority, that did not preclude the Council’s adoption of restrictive measures against the applicant.

99      It is evident from that evidence in the file that the applicant was able to put forward in writing its observations on its inclusion on the Lists and, moreover, that the Council expressly commented on those observations in its letter of 5 December 2011. While the Council’s reply to the applicant’s observations is indeed succinct, the fact remains that the Council expressly refuted the arguments put forward by the applicant.

100    In those circumstances, it must be concluded that, first, contrary to the applicant’s assertions, the Council did not confine itself to a merely formal review of the applicant’s inclusion on the Lists. Secondly, in the light of the case-law cited in paragraph 64 above, and taking into account the fact, noted in paragraph 99 above, that the applicant was able to put forward its arguments in its correspondence with the Council, the applicant cannot criticise the Council for not having organised a formal hearing.

101    The conclusions drawn in the preceding paragraph are not called in question by the applicant’s argument that the Council could not have carried out an effective review in the absence of evidence or information other than the reasons contained in the listing proposal. First, the Council re-examined the circumstances of the case in the light of the observations submitted by the applicant, in accordance with Article 24(4) of Decision 2010/413 and Article 36(4) of Regulation No 961/2010. Secondly, while the applicant admittedly claimed, in particular in the letter of 29 July 2011, that every reason given for the listing was incorrect and expressly disputed, it nevertheless stated that it had always acted with the authorisation or approval and under the supervision of the Bundesbank. In those circumstances, the applicant cannot accuse the Council of having disregarded its rights of defence by carrying out a review without any evidence, since it is common ground that the applicant has not challenged the very existence of the transactions referred to in the grounds of the contested measures.

102    In those circumstances, the complaint alleging that the formal review was inadequate in the absence of any meeting between the applicant and the Council’s representatives, or of a hearing of the applicant, must be rejected as unfounded, as must the second part of the first plea in its entirety.

103    In the light of all the foregoing considerations, the first plea must be rejected as in part unfounded and in part ineffective.

 The second plea: manifest error of assessment

104    By its second plea, the applicant claims that the Council made a manifest error of assessment. It submits, in essence, three complaints. First, according to the applicant, the conditions for entering and maintaining its name on the Lists, pursuant to Article 20(1)(b) of Decision 2010/413, Article 16(2) of Regulation No 961/2010 and Article 23(2) of Regulation No 267/2012, are not met. Secondly, the applicant submits that the Council merely adopted a listing proposal put forward by a Member State without any assessment or discussion of the circumstances of the case. Thirdly, in its reply the applicant adds that the Council has not demonstrated that the transactions mentioned in the statement of reasons took place or that they correspond to actual transactions with the designated Iranian banks.

105    The Council, supported by the Commission and the United Kingdom, contests the merits of the applicant’s arguments.

106    It must be noted that the judicial review of the lawfulness of an act whereby restrictive measures are imposed on an entity extends to the assessment of the facts and circumstances relied on as justifying it, and to the evidence and information on which that assessment is based. In the event of challenge, it is for the Council to present that evidence for review by the Courts of the European Union (see, to that effect, Bank Melli Iran v Council, paragraph 37 above, paragraphs 37 and 107).

107    Furthermore, with regard to acts which establish restrictive measures against an entity that has allegedly provided assistance to designated entities in evading or avoiding the restrictive measures adopted in their case, it should be borne in mind that such acts are acts of the Council, which must, therefore, ensure that their adoption is justified. Consequently, when adopting an initial act establishing such measures, the Council must assess the relevance and the validity of the information and evidence submitted to it, pursuant to Article 23(2) of Decision 2010/413, by a Member State or by the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. When adopting subsequent acts affecting the same entity, the Council is required, in accordance with Article 24(4) of that decision, to review the need to maintain those measures in the light of observations submitted by that entity.

108    Accordingly, the Council cannot rely on a claim that the evidence concerned comes from confidential sources and cannot, consequently, be disclosed. While that circumstance might, possibly, justify restrictions in relation to the communication of that evidence to the applicant or its lawyers, the fact remains that, taking into consideration the essential role of judicial review in the context of the adoption of restrictive measures, the Courts of the European Union must be able to review the lawfulness and merits of such measures without it being possible to raise objections that the evidence and information used by the Council is secret or confidential (see, by analogy, OMPI, paragraph 64 above, paragraph 155). Moreover, the Council is not entitled to base an act adopting restrictive measures on information or evidence in the file communicated by a Member State, if that Member State is not willing to authorise its communication to the Court of the European Union whose task is to review the lawfulness of that decision (see, by analogy, Case T‑284/08 People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran v Council [2008] ECR II‑3487, paragraph 73).

109    It follows from the case-law cited in paragraphs 106 and 108 above that, contrary to the United Kingdom’s contention, the Council cannot act solely on the basis of assurances given in good faith by the Member State making the proposal as to the existence of confidential information and evidence, but is required to assess the relevance and the validity of the evidence submitted to it.

110    It is in the light of that case-law that the Court will examine the applicant’s complaints, as set out, in essence, in paragraph 104 above, in the following order: (i) the complaint that the Council did not provide proof of the allegations made against the applicant; (ii) the complaint that the conditions for entering and maintaining the applicant’s name on the Lists are not met; and (iii) the complaint concerning the assessment of the listing proposal and the listing review.

 The complaint that the Council did not provide proof of the transactions referred to in the grounds of the contested measures

111    The applicant submits, in essence, that the Council has not demonstrated that the transactions mentioned in the statement of reasons for the contested measures took place or that they correspond to actual transactions with the Iranian banks that are subject to sanctions.

112    The Council, supported by the Commission and the United Kingdom, contests the merits of those arguments.

113    It will be recalled that, in accordance with the case-law cited in paragraph 106 above, where the actions of which the applicant is accused are challenged, the Council is bound – without any need for the applicant to prove a negative – to produce the evidence and information on which its assessment was based for them to be reviewed by the Courts of the European Union. Accordingly, it is only if the applicant challenges the existence of the actions of which it is accused, namely the transactions referred to in the grounds of the contested measures, that the Council is bound to produce the evidence of those actions in the review procedure and before the General Court.

114    In the present case, the applicant admits in its written pleadings that it carried out transactions involving the designated Iranian banks, but explains that those transactions were lawful, in that they were either authorised or approved by the Bundesbank or excluded from the scope of the restrictive measures. At the hearing, however, the applicant stated in reply to a question from the Court that it denied being involved in transactions such as those referred to in the grounds of the contested measures. In particular, there was no link, according to the applicant, between the transactions referred to in the grounds of the contested measures and the transactions that it actually carried out after obtaining the authorisation or approval of the Bundesbank. In addition, according to the applicant, while it was possible that the Council was referring in the grounds of the contested measures to transactions that actually took place, the Council had none the less failed to establish that the transactions referred to corresponded to those which the applicant actually carried out.

115    First of all, it must be observed that the parties do not dispute that the applicant carried out transactions involving the designated Iranian banks during the periods referred to in the grounds of the contested measures. It is evident from paragraph 51 above that the transactions carried out pursuant to the Third Way procedure correspond, in essence, to those mentioned in the grounds of the contested measures and, in particular, to the first, third and fourth examples. Moreover, it has been found in paragraph 52 above that the second example relates to transactions that are acknowledged in the application. That example also corresponds to the transactions mentioned in the list of authorisations annexed to the application, which took place, as regards Bank Saderat Iran and Bank Saderat London, from 14 September 2010, that is after the introduction in August of the ‘system’ referred to in the second example, subject, however, to the transactions involving Future Bank.

116    Secondly, in so far as the applicant submits that the transactions referred to in the grounds of the contested measures do not coincide with those it actually carried out, it must be noted that that is a new complaint which was raised for the first time at the hearing. Consequently, it must be rejected as inadmissible under Article 48(2) of the Rules of Procedure, since the applicant merely stated in the application that the transactions it carried out were lawful, without claiming that they did not correspond to those referred to in the grounds of the contested measures.

117    In those circumstances, the Court finds that the applicant does dispute the Council’s assessment of the legality of the transactions referred to in the grounds of the contested measures, and the conclusions drawn from that by the Council, on the ground that all its transactions involving the designated Iranian banks were lawful. However, the applicant has not put forward any admissible argument to challenge the existence of the transactions referred to in the grounds of the contested measures.

118    Accordingly, the Council was not bound to produce proof of facts that were not in dispute.

119    That consideration is not called in question by the applicant’s argument in the second amendment of the form of order sought, according to which it is apparent from the judgment in Joined Cases T‑439/10 and T‑440/10 Fulmen and Mahmoudian v Council [2012] ECR II‑0000 that the Council’s failure to disclose any evidence whatsoever in support of its allegations is in itself a ground for annulment. It must be noted that, unlike in the present case, the applicants in Fulmen and Mahmoudian v Council denied the conduct of which they were accused. Accordingly, the applicant’s argument in that respect is irrelevant.

120    It follows from the foregoing findings that the complaint as to the absence of proof must be rejected.

 The complaint that the conditions for entering and maintaining the applicant’s name on the Lists are not met

121    The applicant claims that the conditions for entering and maintaining its name on the Lists under Article 20(1)(b) of Decision 2010/413, Article 16(2) of Regulation No 961/2010 and Article 23(2) of Regulation No 267/2012 are not met. According to the applicant, the transactions in question were either authorised by the Bundesbank, or excluded from the restrictive measures regime, or approved by the Bundesbank in accordance with the system of restrictive measures taken against Iran and, in particular, with Articles 18 and 21 of Regulation No 961/2010 and the predecessors of those provisions.

122    The Council, supported by the Commission and the United Kingdom, contests the merits of those arguments.

123    In the light of the arguments put forward by the parties, it is necessary to examine whether, as the Council maintains, the transactions referred to in the grounds of the contested measures justified the inclusion of the applicant’s name on the Lists. Given that those transactions took place ‘[i]n 2009’, ‘[shortly after] early August 2010’, ‘[i]n August 2010’ and ‘[a]s of October 2010’ – that is to say, with the exception of transactions that took place between 27 and 31 October 2010, before the entry into force on 27 October 2010 of Regulation No 961/2010 in accordance with the first paragraph of Article 41 thereof – it is appropriate to examine, on the one hand, whether the transactions that took place before 27 October 2010 were carried out in accordance with Council Regulation (EC) No 423/2007 of 19 April 2007 concerning restrictive measures against Iran (OJ 2007 L 103, p. 1) and, on the other, whether the transactions that took place after that date were carried out in accordance with Regulation No 961/2010.

124    Accordingly, the Court will first interpret Articles 7 to 10 of Regulation No 423/2007, as to the application of which the parties were questioned in writing by the Court, and Articles 16 to 19 and 21 of Regulation No 961/2010, in order to ascertain the legal force of an authorisation or approval that would be given by the competent national authority, such as the Bundesbank in this instance. It must be pointed out that Articles 7 to 10 of Regulation No 423/2007 correspond, in essence, to Articles 16 to 19 of Regulation No 961/2010 and that they will therefore be examined together. The latter regulation also includes a provision (Article 21) dealing specifically with the transfer of funds to or from Iranian entities. Next, the Court will examine whether, in the present case, the transactions referred to in the grounds of the contested measures were, as the applicant submits, carried out in accordance with those provisions.

125    With regard, first of all, to the interpretation of Articles 7 to 10 of Regulation No 423/2007 and of Articles 16 to 19 and 21 of Regulation No 961/2010, it should be borne in mind that, in interpreting a provision of European Union law it is necessary to consider not only its wording but also the context in which it occurs and the objects of the rules of which it is part (Case 292/82 Merck [1983] ECR 3781, paragraph 12).

126    In the first place, it must be noted that Article 7(1) and (2) of Regulation No 423/2007 and Article 16(1) and (2) of Regulation No 961/2010 provide that all funds and economic resources belonging to the persons, entities and bodies listed in Annexes IV and V and in Annexes VII and VIII to Regulation No 423/2007 and Regulation No 961/2010 respectively are to be frozen (‘the freezing of funds principle’).

127    Moreover, Articles 8 to 10 of Regulation No 423/2007 and Articles 17 to 19 of Regulation No 961/2010 provide, in essence, that, ‘[b]y way of derogation’ from Article 7 of Regulation No 423/2007 and from Article 16 of Regulation No 961/2010 respectively, ‘the competent authorities of the Member States … may authorise the release of certain frozen funds or economic resources, if the … conditions [set out in the above-mentioned provisions] are met’. Those conditions essentially relate, on the one hand, to the nature of the intended use of the funds and economic resources and, on the other, as regards the derogations in Articles 9 and 10 of Regulation No 423/2007 and in Articles 18 and 19 of Regulation No 961/2010, to the prior notification of authorisations to the Sanctions Committee of the United Nations Security Council or to the other Member States and to the Commission, as appropriate. Furthermore, Articles 9 and 10 of Regulation No 423/2007 as well as Articles 18 and 19 of Regulation No 961/2010 specify that those authorisations may be granted ‘under such conditions as [the competent national authorities] deem appropriate’. That wording calls for the two following observations.

128    First of all, therefore, it follows from those provisions that the competent national authorities are granted the power to authorise the release of certain funds in certain circumstances and by way of an exception to the freezing of funds principle. For that purpose, they must assess each intended transaction on a case-by-case basis in order to ascertain whether the conditions under which they may authorise a release are met, while the entities concerned have a corresponding obligation to request authorisation for each transaction falling within the scope of those provisions. Articles 8 to 10 of Regulation No 423/2007 and Articles 17 to 19 of Regulation No 961/2010 do not, therefore, allow the competent national authorities to give general approval to a certain category of transactions in respect of which the entities concerned would accordingly be relieved of the need to request authorisation on a case-by-case basis.

129    Secondly, contrary to the Council’s assertions, such authorisation attests to the lawfulness – with regard to Regulation No 423/2007 or Regulation No 961/2010, as appropriate – of the transaction authorised. Accordingly, the Council cannot, save in exceptional circumstances, which it is for the Council to demonstrate, base the adoption of restrictive measures that are to apply in the future on transactions authorised in accordance with Articles 8, 9 or 10 of Regulation No 423/2007 or with Articles 17, 18 or 19 of Regulation No 961/2010, as appropriate. By contrast, a mere general approval cannot, in the absence of authorisation on a case-by-case basis, bind the Council.

130    The context of Articles 8 to 10 of Regulation No 423/2007 and Articles 17 to 19 of Regulation No 961/2010, and, in particular, the general scheme of those regulations, reinforces this textual analysis. Given their position in Regulation No 423/2007 and in Regulation No 961/2010, Articles 8 to 10 of the former and Articles 17 to 19 of the latter regulation are presented as modifying the freezing of funds principle laid down by Article 7 of Regulation No 423/2007 and Article 16 of Regulation No 961/2010 respectively, which precede them.

131    Lastly, the interpretation prompted by the textual and contextual analyses is in line with the objective of Regulations No 423/2007 and No 961/2010, namely the intent to prevent nuclear proliferation and, more generally, to maintain international peace and security, given the seriousness of the risk posed by nuclear proliferation.

132    In the second place, with regard to transactions that are carried out via a non-designated entity with the aim of making payments or, as in the context of the Third Way procedure, of settling the debts of designated entities (‘transactions carried out via a non-designated entity’), it must be noted that neither Regulation No 423/2007 nor Regulation No 961/2010 contains any express provision under which such transactions should be authorised.

133    Nevertheless, it is apparent from the provisions, the general scheme and the objective of Regulation No 423/2007 and Regulation No 961/2010 that transactions carried out via a non-designated entity are not automatically lawful, and that, in order to ensure that Article 7 of Regulation No 423/2007 and Article 16 of Regulation No 961/2010 are effective, the entities concerned must satisfy themselves as to the lawfulness of such transactions by requesting authorisation from their competent national authorities where appropriate.

134    First of all, under Article 7(4) of Regulation No 423/2007 and Article 16(4) of Regulation No 961/2010, it is prohibited knowingly and intentionally to participate in activities the object or effect of which is, directly or indirectly, to circumvent the prohibitory measures set out in paragraphs 1 to 3 of those provisions. Those provisions constitute a prohibitory measure the infringement of which is of itself capable of independently forming the basis for the imposition of penalties, including criminal penalties, under the applicable national law, in accordance with Article 16(1) of Regulation No 423/2007 and Article 37(1) of Regulation No 961/2010 (see, to that effect, Case C‑72/11 Afrasiabi and Others [2011] ECR I-0000, paragraphs 34 and 35).

135    Furthermore, by referring in Article 7(4) of Regulation No 423/2007 and in Article 16(4) of Regulation No 961/2010 to the activities the object or effect of which is, directly or indirectly, to ‘circumvent’ the prohibitory measures set out in paragraphs 1 to 3 of each of those provisions, the European Union legislature refers to activities which have the aim or result of enabling their author to avoid the application of that prohibition (see, to that effect, Afrasiabi and Others, paragraph 134 above, paragraph 60). The cumulative conditions of knowledge and intent set out in Article 7(4) of Regulation No 423/2007 and Article 16(4) of Regulation No 961/2010 are met where the person participating in an activity covered by those provisions deliberately seeks the object or the effect, direct or indirect, of circumvention connected therewith. They are also met where the person in question is aware that his participation in such an activity can have that object or effect and accepts that possibility (see, to that effect, Afrasiabi and Others, paragraph 134 above, paragraph 67).

136    Accordingly, transactions carried out via a non-designated entity are capable of infringing the prohibition laid down in Article 7(4) of Regulation No 423/2007 and Article 16(4) of Regulation No 961/2010 respectively where they have the aim of carrying out financial transactions concerning a designated entity and the entities involved in such a transaction are in fact seeking to achieve that aim or know that their participation in that transaction can have that object or effect and accept that possibility. In such circumstances, it is for the entity relying on the conformity of its transactions with Regulation No 423/2007 or Regulation No 961/2010, as appropriate, to demonstrate that the conditions for the prohibition in Article 7(4) of Regulation No 423/2007 or Article 16(4) of Regulation No 961/2010, as appropriate, are not met.

137    Moreover, it must be observed that there are specific rules governing transfers of funds to and from an Iranian person, entity or body provided for in Article 21 of Regulation No 961/2010, which has no equivalent in Regulation No 423/2007. In particular, Article 21 imposes an obligation to obtain prior authorisation from the competent national authorities for any transfer – other than transfers covered by Article 21(1)(a) – of or above EUR 40 000. Such authorisation is, in accordance with Article 21(4) of Regulation No 961/2010, to be granted unless the transfer of funds envisaged contributes to the activities mentioned in that provision. By contrast, transfers of funds below EUR 40 000 do not require prior authorisation, but must be notified if above EUR 10 000.

138    It follows by contrary inference from Article 21 of Regulation No 961/2010 that transfers of funds to and from Iranian persons, entities or bodies – including, as is evident from Article 1(m) of that regulation, non-designated Iranian persons, entities or bodies – may, in principle, be carried out provided that the conditions of Article 21 are met. Consequently, Article 21 of Regulation No 961/2010 constitutes a modification of the freezing of funds principle laid down in Article 16 of Regulation No 961/2010, since, as is evident from Article 1(i) of that regulation, the freezing of funds means preventing, inter alia, any transfer of funds that would result in any change in their volume, amount, location, ownership, possession, character or destination.

139    However, given that, as is evident from the preceding paragraph, Article 21 of Regulation No 961/2010 constitutes a modification of the principle set out in Article 16 of that regulation, it must be concluded that Article 21 of Regulation No 961/2010 must be interpreted in a way which is consistent with Article 16(4) of that regulation. Article 16(4) prohibits the circumvention, knowingly and intentionally, of the measures referred to in paragraphs 1 to 3. Accordingly, any transfers of funds that may be carried out in accordance with Article 21 cannot facilitate the circumvention of the prohibition under Article 16(4) of Regulation No 961/2010.

140    Secondly, it must be observed that, as regards credit and financial institutions, like the applicant, Article 11a(1)(a) of Regulation No 423/2007, as inserted by Article 1(h) of Council Regulation (EC) No 1110/2008 of 10 November 2008 amending Regulation No 423/2007 (OJ 2008 L 300, p. 1), requires those institutions which come within the scope of Article 18 of Regulation No 423/2007 to ‘exercise continuous vigilance over account activity’ in their relations with the credit and financial institutions referred to in paragraph 2 of Article 11a, that is, inter alia, credit and financial institutions domiciled in Iran. According to Article 18 of Regulation No 423/2007, that regulation is to apply, inter alia, to any legal person, entity or body which is incorporated, like the applicant, or constituted under the law of a Member State, and to any legal person, entity or body in respect of any business done in whole or in part within the Community. Article 23(1)(a) of Regulation No 961/2010 imposes a similar obligation of vigilance over account activity on credit and financial institutions which fall within the scope of Article 39 of that regulation.

141    Consequently, the effectiveness of the combined provisions of Articles 7 to 10 of Regulation No 423/2007 and of Articles 16 to 19 and 21 of Regulation No 961/2010 would be compromised if a non-designated entity were free to carry out transactions via a non-designated entity for the purpose of settling debts or making payments on behalf of a designated entity. It follows from this that a non-designated entity must always satisfy itself as to the legality of such transactions by requesting authorisation from the competent national authority where appropriate.

142    It is in the light of that interpretation of Regulation No 423/2007 and of Regulation No 961/2010 that the Court must examine, next, whether in this instance the transactions referred to in the grounds of the contested measures were lawful.

143    It will be recalled that, in order to demonstrate that all the transactions which it carried out were lawful, the applicant maintains that they were either authorised by the Bundesbank, or excluded from the scope of the restrictive measures, or carried out in accordance with a procedure approved by the Bundesbank (the Third Way procedure), as appropriate.

144    The Court will examine, first of all, the transactions allegedly excluded from the scope of the restrictive measures; secondly, the transactions allegedly authorised; and, thirdly, the transactions allegedly carried out in accordance with the Third Way procedure.

145    In the first place, with regard to the transactions allegedly excluded from the scope of the restrictive measures, it must be noted that the applicant merely maintains that some of its transactions were excluded from the scope of those measures, without otherwise substantiating its reasoning in that regard, which concentrates on the transactions that were authorised or approved. In those circumstances, that argument must be rejected as inadmissible in the light of Article 44(1) of the Rules of Procedure.

146    Moreover, the applicant explained at the hearing that the Bundesbank’s approval of the Third Way procedure was based on the consideration that the transactions carried out in accordance with that procedure were excluded from the scope of Article 7 of Regulation No 423/2007 or of Article 16 of Regulation No 961/2010, as appropriate. In those circumstances, that argument will be considered in the examination of the transactions allegedly approved and carried out in accordance with the Third Way procedure.

147    In the second place, with regard to the transactions allegedly authorised by the Bundesbank, the applicant submits that its transactions were, where necessary, authorised on the basis of Article 18 or Article 21 of Regulation No 961/2010, as appropriate. In answer to a written question from the Court, it added that, before the entry into force of Regulation No 961/2010, it always sought authorisation in accordance with Articles 8 to 10 of Regulation No 423/2007 where necessary. In order to demonstrate that its transactions were in fact lawful, however, the applicant merely annexes to the application a list of transactions allegedly authorised pursuant to Article 18 of Regulation No 961/2010 that took place between 2 September 2010 and 21 July 2011 involving Bank Mellat, Bank Sepah, Bank Saderat Iran and Bank Saderat Plc (Bank Saderat London), Future Bank and Postbank of Iran. Moreover, it produces 10 ‘examples’ of authorisations granted, pursuant to Article 21(4) of Regulation No 961/2010, on 7 and 24 January 2011, 3 February 2011, 23 March 2011, 13 and 19 May 2011 and 16 June 2011 in respect of transactions carried out in accordance with the Third Way procedure for which such authorisation was necessary.

148    As regards those transactions referred to in the grounds of the contested measures which took place before 2 September 2010, the applicant cannot reasonably claim that the conditions for entering its name on the Lists, on the grounds of transactions that took place in 2009 and 2010, were not met because the transactions which it carried out between 2 September 2010 and 21 July 2011 were authorised. Accordingly, that argument must be rejected as ineffective in so far as it concerns the transactions referred to in the grounds of the contested measures which took place before 2 September 2010.

149    Moreover, as regards the transactions that took place from 2 September 2010, it must be held that the examples of authorisations mentioned in paragraph 147 above are insufficient to support the applicant’s argument that all the transactions which it carried out in the periods after 2 September 2010 referred to in the grounds of the contested measures were lawful. Accordingly, that argument must be rejected as unfounded in so far as it concerns those transactions.

150    In the third place, as regards the transactions allegedly carried out in accordance with the Third Way procedure approved by the Bundesbank, the applicant stated at the hearing that, according to the Bundesbank, they were excluded from the scope of Article 7 of Regulation No 423/2007 or of Article 16 of Regulation No 961/2010, as appropriate. Furthermore, since the adoption of Regulation No 961/2010, it had always requested authorisation in accordance with Article 21 of that regulation where such authorisation was required. In that regard, not only must that last argument be rejected for the reasons set out in paragraph 147 above, but it must be noted at the outset that, in the light of the considerations set out in paragraphs 135 to 139 above, the transactions allegedly carried out in accordance with the Third Way procedure infringe the prohibition laid down in Article 7(4) of Regulation No 423/2007 and in Article 16(4) of Regulation No 961/2010. Those transactions, according to the definition provided in the application, had the aim of carrying out financial transactions concerning designated entities, in so far as they were intended to ensure, inter alia, that the designated Iranian banks’ earlier obligations were satisfied. The applicant was aware not only of the existence of the system of restrictive measures against Iran but also of the fact that, notwithstanding the freezing of funds principle, the Third Way procedure enabled transactions concerning designated banks to be carried out.

151    Consequently, the conduct, by a financial institution, of transactions in accordance with the Third Way procedure, in principle, justifies the adoption of restrictive measures – unless those transactions were authorised by the competent national authority in accordance with Regulation No 423/2007 or Regulation No 961/2010, as appropriate – and falls, contrary to what the applicant argued at the hearing, within the scope of Article 7 of Regulation No 423/2007 or of Article 16 of Regulation No 961/2010, as appropriate.

152    The applicant nevertheless maintains that those transactions were lawful. In order to demonstrate their lawfulness, it annexed to the application, inter alia:

–        two emails sent by the Bundesbank to the applicant dated 24 May 2007 and 1 July 2008 respectively, the information in which is confirmed by a series of letters and emails sent during the same period by Bank Saderat to the applicant, by the applicant to the Bundesbank, or by the Bundesbank to Bank Saderat, and also by notes of telephone conversations dating from the same period, except for a conversation which occurred in 2011, and which were drawn up by the applicant’s representatives;

–        three letters sent by the Österreichische Nationalbank (National Bank of Austria) to the Wirtschaftskammer Österreich (Austrian Chamber of Commerce), one undated, the others dated 27 June 2008 and 6 August 2010 respectively, setting out the results of a Relex/Sanctions meeting on 13 June 2007, the legal opinion of the Österreichische Nationalbank regarding financial transactions and the new authorisation requirements arising from Decision 2010/413;

–        three audit reports, two of which, dated 16 December 2010 and 30 May 2011 respectively, were drawn up by Bundesbank representatives, and the third, dated 23 December 2010, by a firm of consultants (‘the 23 December 2010 report’).

153    First, it must be observed that it is true that, according to the text of the emails from the Bundesbank, ‘movements by banks between accounts of unlisted persons [were] also permissible if the purpose [was] to redeem the debts of listed persons or establishments’. Moreover, it is apparent from the Bundesbank email dated 24 May 2007 that the request made on 18 April 2007 for authorisation of the receipt of payments from Bank Sepah was ‘superfluous’.

154    However, the Court considers that, in the absence of authorisations granted on a case-by-case basis, those emails, and the confirmation emails and notes of telephone conversations, do not suffice to demonstrate that the transactions referred to in the grounds of the contested measures were lawful under Regulation No 423/2007 and Regulation No 961/2010, in view of the considerations set out in paragraphs 136 to 141 above. A general, blanket approval that does not distinguish the nature of the precise transactions and the designated entities concerned is insufficient. Moreover, except for one call that took place after the applicant had been entered on the Lists, the emails, letters and telephone calls in question predate the transactions referred to in the grounds of the contested measures by either one or two years. In the light of the requirement for vigilance noted in paragraph 140 above, a reasonably diligent financial institution ought to have requested more information about the ‘approval’ received.

155    Secondly, with regard to the letters from the Österreichische Nationalbank, suffice it to note that that authority is not the competent national authority, within the meaning of Regulation No 423/2007 and Regulation No 961/2010, for Germany. Yet the applicant is established in Germany.

156    Thirdly, contrary to what is asserted by the applicant, it is not apparent from the audit reports referred to in the third indent of paragraph 152 above that it complied in any event with the requirements relating to the restrictive measures. On the contrary, not only do the two audit reports drawn up by the Bundesbank and the 23 December 2010 report provide an analysis of the financial transactions carried out by the applicant that is not exhaustive but based on a sample, but the 23 December 2010 report expressly finds that the transactions carried out in 2010 using the Third Way procedure were capable of counteracting the objectives of the European Union’s sanctions policy.

157    It follows from the foregoing that, contrary to what is claimed by the applicant, in the absence of authorisations granted on a case-by-case basis, the transactions referred to in the grounds of the contested measures are not lawful under Regulation No 423/2007 and Regulation No 961/2010, as appropriate. Accordingly, taking into account the considerations set out in paragraphs 129 and 141 above, the Council could legitimately base the adoption of restrictive measures against the applicant on those transactions.

158    The conclusion drawn in the preceding paragraph is not called in question by the applicant’s argument that the Council also erred in finding in the grounds of the contested measures that the applicant froze the accounts of Bank Mellat and of Bank Saderat Iran in ‘early August 2010’, whereas, according to the applicant, it froze them on 27 July 2010. That is a minor inaccuracy given the closeness in time of 27 July and the beginning of August 2010. Moreover, that inaccuracy related to the background of the first example without vitiating the substance, since the transactions referred to in that example were initiated, according to the grounds of the contested measures, shortly after the accounts of Bank Mellat and Bank Saderat Iran were frozen.

159    In the light of the foregoing considerations, that complaint must be rejected in so far as it relates to the transactions allegedly approved, as also, therefore, must the complaint in its entirety, as in part inadmissible and in part unfounded.

 The complaint concerning the assessment of the listing proposal and the listing review

160    The applicant submits that the Council merely adopted the listing proposal of a Member State without any assessment or discussion of the circumstances of the present case. It states that the Federal Republic of Germany, which was the State best placed to propose that the applicant’s name be entered on the Lists, neither proposed nor supported such a listing, and that, moreover, in the absence of evidence, the Council could not carry out an assessment of the reasons given in the listing proposal.

161    The Council, supported by the Commission and the United Kingdom, contests the merits of those arguments.

162    In the first place, as regards the argument that the Federal Republic of Germany neither proposed nor supported the applicant’s inclusion on the Lists, it must be observed that it is apparent from Article 23(2) of Decision 2010/413 that the Council is to establish the list in Annex II to that decision acting by unanimity on a proposal from Member States or from the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy. Accordingly, first, on the assumption that the Federal Republic of Germany is, as the applicant claims, the State best placed in this instance to propose that the applicant be included on the Lists, it must be noted that Decision 2010/413 does not impose any restriction as to the Member State entitled to make a proposal and that such a proposal may therefore come from any Member State. Secondly, the argument that the Federal Republic of Germany did not support the inclusion of the applicant’s name on the Lists is manifestly erroneous since the Council is to act by unanimity in respect of the listing of an entity in Annex II to Decision 2010/413, in accordance with Article 23(2) of Decision 2010/413. Yet the applicant has not cast doubt on the proper conduct of the voting process. Moreover, in any event, the Court finds that, in the light of the information in the file, there is no objective evidence that the Council failed to act by unanimity in the present case.

163    In the second place, as regards the argument that, in the absence of evidence, the Council could not carry out an assessment of the reasons given in the listing proposal, it must be observed that it is common ground that the Council entered the applicant’s name on the 2010 lists on the basis of a listing proposal from a Member State. Therefore it was for the Council, in accordance with the case-law cited in paragraph 107 above, to assess the relevance and the validity of the information and evidence submitted to it.

164    Nor, moreover, is it disputed that the grounds of the contested measures reproduce the wording of that proposal in identical terms. It is true that, in the absence of any other relevant evidence, the word-for-word repetition, in the reasons stated in the acts introducing the restrictive measures against an entity, of the statement of reasons provided in the proposal from a Member State does not by itself establish that the Council failed, when assessing the case, to carry out an evaluation of the evidence provided by that proposal (see, to that effect and by analogy, People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran v Council, paragraph 64 above, paragraph 95).

165    However, in the present case, the Council expressly indicated in its letter of 1 July 2011 (see paragraph 8 above) that the listing proposal was the only evidence in its possession in relation to the inclusion of the applicant’s name on the 2010 lists. It also confirmed the absence of any other evidence in a letter to the applicant of 27 March 2012, in reply to a request by the applicant pursuant to Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2001 regarding public access to European Parliament, Council and Commission documents (OJ 2001 L 145, p. 43). Furthermore, the Council also confirmed at the hearing that it did not have any other evidence.

166    In view of the foregoing, it must be observed in regard to the initial entry of the applicant’s name on the 2010 lists that the file contains nothing to suggest that the Council checked the validity of the allegations contained in the listing proposal. It must be held that, in the absence of any evidence and without more detailed information about the conduct of which the applicant was accused, the Council was de facto not in a position to assess the validity of the matters raised against the applicant in the listing proposal.

167    By contrast, as regards the retention of the applicant’s name on the 2010 lists by the measures of 1 December 2011, and its listing in Annex IX to Regulation No 267/2012, it must be observed that, in particular in the letter of 29 July 2011, the applicant expressly stated that it had always acted with the authorisation or approval and under the supervision of the Bundesbank, in respect of all its transactions involving the designated Iranian banks. The applicant also took that opportunity to outline to the Council the operation of the Third Way procedure under which it carried out transactions relating to the former activities of the designated Iranian banks.

168    Thus, while the applicant did indeed claim in the letter of 29 July 2011 that the grounds for listing were erroneous, it did not deny having carried out transactions concerning the designated Iranian banks. In particular, it acknowledged that it had carried out transactions concerning the designated Iranian banks, including Bank Saderat Iran, Bank Saderat London, Future Bank Bahrain and Bank Sepah, which are mentioned in the grounds of the contested measures, but stated that those transactions were either authorised or approved by the Bundesbank, in that they were carried out in accordance with the Third Way procedure.

169    In those circumstances, taking into account the applicant’s detailed comments regarding its activities, it must be concluded that the Council was able to review the validity of the adoption of the restrictive measures in respect of the applicant and, therefore, legitimately maintain the applicant’s name on the 2010 lists and subsequently enter it on the list in Annex IX to Regulation No 267/2012.

170    In the light of the foregoing, the Court must accept the argument that the Council could not, in the absence of any evidence, evaluate the validity of the applicant’s inclusion on the Lists, in so far as it relates to the measures of 23 May 2011, and reject it as to the remainder.

171    In the light of all the foregoing matters, the Court must uphold the complaint that the Council merely adopted the listing proposal of a Member State without evaluating it, and, therefore, the second plea, to the extent to which they are directed against the measures of 23 May 2011 in so far as they concern the applicant, and must reject that complaint and the second plea as to the remainder.

 The third plea: breach of the principle of protection of legitimate expectations, of the principle of legal certainty and of the right to good administration

172    By its third plea the applicant essentially maintains, first, that the Council breached the principle of protection of legitimate expectations. According to the applicant, the authorisations and approvals of the Bundesbank were such as to create a legitimate expectation as to the lawfulness of the transactions that were authorised or approved. By designating the Bundesbank as the competent national authority and empowering it to apply the derogations under Articles 8 to 10 of Regulation No 423/2007 and Articles 18 to 21 of Regulation No 961/2010, the Council represented to the applicant that the transactions or procedures approved by the Bundesbank were in compliance with the applicable sanctions regimes. Secondly, the applicant maintains, in the alternative, that the Council breached the principle of legal certainty and its right to good administration – which, according to the applicant, includes the right to fair treatment, the rights of the defence and the right to an effective remedy – in that it entered its name on the Lists on the basis of transactions authorised or carried out in accordance with procedures approved by the Bundesbank. In so doing, the Council undermined the system introduced by the relevant legislation on restrictive measures. In its reply, the applicant also submits that the Council’s stance is contrary to the rule of law, the principle of subsidiarity, and the duty of cooperation between the European Union and its Member States.

173    The Council, supported by the Commission and the United Kingdom, contests the merits of those arguments.

174    In the first place, as regards the alleged breach of the principle of protection of legitimate expectations, it must be borne in mind that the right to rely on that principle extends to any person in a situation where a European Union institution has caused him to entertain expectations which are justified by precise assurances provided to him. However, if a prudent and alert economic operator could have foreseen the adoption of a European Union measure likely to affect his interests, he cannot plead that principle if the measure is adopted (Joined Cases C‑182/03 and C‑217/03 Belgium and Forum 187 v Commission [2006] ECR I‑5479, paragraph 147; Case C‑519/07 P Commission v Koninklijke FrieslandCampina [2009] ECR I‑8495, paragraph 84; and Case C‑537/08 P Kahla Thüringen Porzellan v Commission [2010] ECR I‑12917, paragraph 63).

175    In the present case, the applicant relies on the legitimate expectation allegedly created by the authorisations and approvals of the Bundesbank, as the competent national authority designated by the Council.

176    It must be observed that, while it is true that the Council designated the Bundesbank the national authority competent to apply the derogations from the restrictive measures, those derogations presupposed a case-by-case assessment in accordance with Regulation No 423/2007, and could not be granted generally by reference to categories of transactions in respect of which the entities concerned would then be relieved of the need to request authorisation on a case-by-case basis (see paragraphs 128 and 141 above). Accordingly, the authorisations granted by the Bundesbank as the competent national authority designated by the Council could have supported a legitimate expectation on the part of the applicant only to the extent that those conditions were met. However, as has been found in paragraph 157 above, the transactions referred to in the grounds of the contested measures were not authorised by the Bundesbank in accordance with Articles 8 to 10 of Regulation No 423/2007.

177    Consequently, the argument regarding breach of legitimate expectations must be rejected as unfounded.

178    In the second place, as regards the argument as to breach of the principle of legal certainty, it has consistently been held that the principle of legal certainty requires that European Union legislation be certain and its application foreseeable by those subject to it (Belgium and Forum 187 v Commission, paragraph 174 above, paragraph 69, and Case C‑67/09 P Nuova Agricast and Cofra v Commission [2010] ECR I‑9811, paragraph 77).

179    Suffice it to note in this case that Regulation No 423/2007, and also Decision 2010/413, Regulation No 961/2010 and Regulation No 267/2012, set out clearly the conditions for listing an entity, specify the transactions prohibited and determine the conditions of authorisation. Consequently, their application was foreseeable by the applicant.

180    In any event, given that, as has been found in paragraph 157 above, in the absence of authorisations granted in accordance with Articles 8 to 10 of Regulation No 423/2007, the transactions referred to in the grounds of the contested measures are not lawful, the applicant cannot accuse the Council of having disregarded the principle of legal certainty by entering its name on the Lists on the basis of lawful transactions.

181    Accordingly, that argument regarding breach of the principle of legal certainty must be rejected as unfounded.

182    In the third place, in so far as the applicant relies on the right to good administration, which includes, in its view, the right to fair treatment, the rights of the defence and the right to an effective remedy, suffice it to note that it is evident from the examination of the second part of the first plea that the applicant’s rights of defence and its right to an effective remedy were observed by the Council, and, moreover, that the applicant does not put forward any arguments in support of the assertion of a breach of the right to fair treatment.

183    Accordingly, that argument must be rejected as unfounded in so far as it concerns a breach of the rights of the defence and of the right to an effective remedy, and inadmissible under Article 44(1) of the Rules of Procedure, in so far as it concerns a breach of the right to fair treatment.

184    Lastly, as regards the alleged breach of the rule of law, the principle of subsidiarity and the duty of cooperation between the European Union and its Member States, the applicant submits, in essence, that in view of the fact that only a competent national authority is in a position to adopt derogations from the freezing of funds in accordance with the relevant provisions, the Council cannot ignore such an authorisation or override it. However, not only is that complaint out of time, in that it was first raised at the stage of the reply, and therefore inadmissible under Article 48(2) of the Rules of Procedure, but it must be noted that, as has been found in paragraph 157 above, contrary to what is claimed by the applicant, in the absence of authorisations granted in accordance with Articles 8 to 10 of Regulation No 423/2007, the transactions referred to in the grounds of the contested measures are not lawful. Accordingly, that argument is in any event unfounded.

185    In the light of the foregoing considerations, the third plea must be rejected as in part unfounded and in part inadmissible.

 The plea of illegality raised against Article 20(1)(b) of Decision 2010/413, Article 16(2)(b) of Regulation No 961/2010 and Article 23(2) of Regulation No 267/2012

186    The applicant claims, in essence, that, in so far as Article 20(1)(b) of Decision 2010/413, Article 16(2)(b) of Regulation No 961/2010 and Article 23(2) of Regulation No 267/2012 appear to require the designation of any entity identified as having assisted another entity that is subject to sanctions in violating or evading sanctions, notwithstanding the fact that such assistance might be inadvertent and of a minimal nature, those provisions breach the principle of proportionality and are contrary to Article 32(2) of Regulation No 961/2010.

187    The Council, supported by the Commission and the United Kingdom, contests the merits of those arguments.

188    As a preliminary point, it will be recalled that Article 20(1)(b) of Decision 2010/413, Article 16(2)(b) of Regulation No 961/2010 and Article 23(2)(b) of Regulation No 267/2012 require the Council to freeze the funds and economic resources of an entity that has assisted a listed person, entity or body to evade or violate the provisions of those acts or of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1737 (2006), 1747 (2007), 1803 (2008) and 1929 (2010), the Council assessing case by case whether the entity in question has provided such assistance to a designated person, entity or body (see, to that effect and by analogy, Joined Cases T‑246/08 and T‑332/08 Melli Bank v Council [2009] ECR II‑2629, paragraph 67).

189    Accordingly, the present plea of illegality consists, in essence, of denying the compatibility with the principle of proportionality of one of the general rules determining the procedure for implementing the restrictive measures, namely Article 20(1)(b) of Decision 2010/413, Article 16(2)(b) of Regulation No 961/2010 and Article 23(2) of Regulation No 267/2012. It follows from this that, as has consistently been held, with regard to the general rules determining the procedure for implementing the restrictive measures, the Council enjoys broad discretion in its assessment of the matters to be taken into consideration for the purpose of adopting economic and financial sanctions on the basis of Article 215 TFEU, consistent with a decision adopted on the basis of the common foreign and security policy. Because the Courts of the European Union may not, in particular, substitute their assessment of the evidence, the facts and the circumstances justifying the adoption of such measures for that of the Council, the review carried out by the Court must be restricted to checking that the rules governing procedure and the statement of reasons have been complied with, that the facts are materially accurate, and that there has been no manifest error of assessment of the facts or misuse of power. That limited review applies, especially, to the assessment of the considerations of appropriateness on which such measures are based (Melli Bank v Council, paragraph 188 above, paragraph 45).

190    Primarily, it should be noted that, according to the case-law, by virtue of the principle of proportionality, which is one of the general principles of European Union law, the lawfulness of the prohibition of an economic activity is subject to the condition that the prohibitory measures should be appropriate and necessary in order to achieve the objectives legitimately pursued by the legislation in question; when there is a choice between several appropriate measures, recourse must be had to the least onerous, and the disadvantages caused must not be disproportionate to the aims pursued (Case C‑331/88 Fedesa and Others [1990] ECR I‑4023, paragraph 13). It is in the light of those criteria that this plea of illegality is to be examined.

191    In the first place, it must be observed that the objective of Decision 2010/413, Regulation No 961/2010 and Regulation No 267/2012 is to stop nuclear proliferation and its funding and so to bring pressure to bear on the Islamic Republic of Iran to put an end to the activities in question. That objective forms part of a more general framework of endeavours linked to the maintenance of international peace and security and is, therefore, legitimate, which the applicant does not, moreover, deny (see, to that effect, Melli Bank v Council, paragraph 188 above, paragraph 102).

192    In the second place, the freezing of the funds and economic resources of an entity that has assisted a listed person, entity or body in evading or violating the provisions of Decision 2010/413, Regulation No 961/2010, Regulation No 267/2012 or United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1737 (2006), 1747 (2007), 1803 (2008) and 1929 (2010) is linked to the objective defined in the preceding paragraph. Such assistance is likely to undermine measures freezing the funds and economic resources of a designated entity. In those circumstances, it must be held that the freezing of the funds and economic resources of entities identified as having provided such assistance to a designated entity is necessary and appropriate in order to ensure the effectiveness of the restrictive measures regime established by Decision 2010/413, Regulation No 961/2010 and Regulation No 267/2012 and to ensure that those measures will not be circumvented.

193    Lastly, and in the third place, in so far as the applicant maintains that the Council’s obligation to designate an entity on the basis of assistance provided to designated entities does not take account of the fact that the assistance may be minimal or provided inadvertently, it should be borne in mind that, first, as has been found in paragraph 188 above, the Council is required to make a case-by-case assessment in order to determine whether such assistance has been provided. In that context, it will, if necessary, be able to take into account the minimal nature of the support provided. Secondly, as stated in paragraph 140 above, non-designated credit and financial institutions must exercise vigilance and, therefore, fully satisfy themselves as to compliance with the restrictive measures taken against designated entities. Accordingly, it must be held that, save in exceptional circumstances, a bank cannot reasonably claim that it has inadvertently provided assistance for the purposes of Article 20(1)(b) of Decision 2010/413, Article 16(2)(b) of Regulation No 961/2010 or Article 23(2)(b) of Regulation No 267/2012.

194    In the light of the foregoing, the plea of illegality must be rejected as unfounded.

 The fourth plea: breach of the principle of proportionality, of the right to property and of the freedom to conduct a business

195    By its fourth plea, the applicant submits that the Council breached the principle of proportionality, its right to property and its freedom to conduct a business. In its view, the restriction of its right to property and of its freedom to conduct a business is disproportionate, since it did not have the benefit of any genuine guarantee enabling it to put its case. Moreover, the applicant claims that the restrictive measures in question are manifestly disproportionate since, first, each reason for the listing is erroneous and the Council penalised it on the basis of conduct that was authorised or approved; secondly, being a German bank, the adoption of restrictive measures against it entails a worldwide freezing of its assets; and, thirdly, less restrictive measures were possible. Consequently, according to the applicant, the restrictive measures taken against it constitute a severe restriction of its right to property and of its freedom to conduct a business.

196    The Council, supported by the Commission and the United Kingdom, contests the merits of those arguments.

197    It must be noted first of all that, according to the case-law cited in paragraph 190 above, by virtue of the principle of proportionality the lawfulness of the prohibition of an economic activity is subject to the condition that the prohibitory measures should be appropriate and necessary in order to achieve the objectives legitimately pursued by the legislation in question; when there is a choice between several appropriate measures, recourse must be had to the least onerous, and the disadvantages caused must not be disproportionate to the aims pursued.

198    Next, according to settled case-law, the right to property and the right to carry on an economic activity form an integral part of the general principles of law whose observance is ensured by the Courts of the European Union, and are enshrined in Article 17 and Article 16 respectively of the Charter of Fundamental Rights. Respect for those fundamental rights is thus a condition of the lawfulness of acts of the European Union (see Kadi, paragraph 65 above, paragraph 284 and the case-law cited). Nevertheless, the case-law also makes it clear that fundamental rights are not absolute, and that their exercise may be subject to restrictions justified by objectives of public interest pursued by the European Union. Any economic or financial restrictive measure has, by definition, consequences which affect the right to property and the freedom to pursue a trade or business, thereby causing harm, in particular to the entities carrying on the activities that the restrictive measures in question are designed to stop. The importance of the aims pursued by the legislation at issue is such as to justify negative consequences, even of a substantial nature, for some operators (see, to that effect, Case C‑84/95 Bosphorus [1996] ECR I‑3953, paragraphs 21 to 23, and Kadi, paragraph 65 above, paragraphs 355 and 361).

199    Lastly, it has already been held that, where the restrictive measures were adopted without furnishing any genuine guarantee enabling the person concerned to put his case to the competent authorities, in a situation in which the restriction of his right to property must be regarded as significant, having regard to the general application and on-going nature of the freezing measures affecting him, the adoption of restrictive measures in respect of the person concerned constitutes an unjustified restriction of his right to property (see, to that effect and by analogy, Kadi, paragraph 65 above, paragraphs 369 and 370).

200    It is in the light of that case-law that the Court must first of all examine the applicant’s arguments regarding breach of the principle of proportionality, and then the arguments regarding breach of the applicant’s right to property and of its freedom to conduct a business.

201    In the first place, as regards the arguments regarding breach of the principle of proportionality, it will be recalled that, as is apparent from the observations made in paragraphs 191 and 192 above in relation to the examination of the plea of illegality, the freezing of the funds and economic resources of entities identified as having assisted a designated entity in violating or evading the restrictive measures, in principle, pursues a legitimate objective, in that it is intended to stop nuclear proliferation and its funding and so to bring pressure to bear on the Islamic Republic of Iran to put an end to the activities in question, and, moreover, is necessary and appropriate in order to ensure the effectiveness of the restrictive measures regime established by Decision 2010/413, Regulation No 961/2010 and Regulation No 267/2012 and to ensure that those measures will not be circumvented.

202    In the present case, the adoption of the restrictive measures in respect of the applicant forms part of that legitimate objective of combating nuclear proliferation. Moreover, it follows from this that, in so far as it ensures that the applicant’s funds will no longer be used to promote nuclear proliferation or to circumvent the restrictive measures taken in respect of other persons or entities, the adoption of those measures constitutes a measure that is appropriate and necessary in order to achieve that objective.

203    That conclusion is not called in question by the applicant’s arguments.

204    First, the applicant maintains that the grounds of the contested measures are erroneous and that it is disproportionate to impose sanctions on it on the basis of transactions authorised or approved by the Bundesbank, since Article 32(2) of Regulation No 961/2010 rules out any liability on the part of an entity which did not know, and had no reasonable cause to suspect, that its actions would infringe the prohibitions referred to in that regulation.

205    Suffice it to note, however, that it is evident from the examination of the second plea that, contrary to the applicant’s contention, in the absence of authorisation in accordance with Articles 8 to 10 of Regulation No 423/2007, the transactions referred to in the grounds of the contested measures are not lawful. Accordingly, that argument must be rejected as unfounded.

206    Secondly, the applicant maintains that the restrictive measures are disproportionate in its case as it is a German bank and those restrictive measures have consequently resulted in a worldwide freezing of its assets.

207    It must be observed in that regard that it is true that the adoption of restrictive measures in respect of a bank established within the European Union is a particularly restrictive measure, given that, under Article 39 of Regulation No 961/2010 and Article 49 of Regulation No 267/2012, those regulations are applicable within the territory of the European Union, including its airspace, on board any aircraft or any vessel under the jurisdiction of a Member State, to any person inside or outside the territory of the European Union who is a national of a Member State, to any legal person, entity or body which is incorporated or constituted under the law of a Member State and to any legal person, entity or body in respect of any business done in whole or in part within the European Union.

208    Nevertheless, even in the case of an entity established in the European Union whose funds are located there and are therefore to be frozen, it should be noted that Articles 17 to 19 of Regulation No 961/2010 and Articles 24 to 28 of Regulation No 267/2012 provide for certain exceptions allowing the entities affected by restrictive measures to meet essential expenditure. In those circumstances, the applicant’s argument must be rejected as unfounded.

209    Thirdly, the applicant relies on the existence of other, less restrictive measures that would have enabled the objective pursued to be achieved. Those alternative measures consist, in essence, in the Bundesbank no longer approving the Third Way procedure or no longer granting authorisations on the basis of Article 21 of Regulation No 961/2010. In any event, according to the applicant, the authorisation regime and the existence of substantial penalties at national level are sufficient to ensure that the objectives of the sanctions regime are met.

210    In that regard it must be noted that the effectiveness of such alternative measures at national level would depend on their correct implementation by the Bundesbank, which the Council has no power to direct. Any contravention of the sanctions regime might therefore be uncovered only after the event, as in the case of the transactions referred to in the grounds of the contested measures in this instance. The present case shows, therefore, that the alternative measures proposed by the applicant are not able to ensure a preventative effect equivalent to that of the restrictive measures imposed by the contested measures (see, to that effect, Melli Bank v Council, paragraph 188 above, paragraph 127).

211    Consequently, the Council could legitimately conclude that the system of authorisations was not sufficient, and that the adoption of the restrictive measures in respect of the applicant was necessary in order to achieve the legitimate objective pursued.

212    In those circumstances, it must be concluded that the alternative measures which the applicant mentions in its written pleadings are not appropriate in order to achieve the objective pursued.

213    In the light of the foregoing, the arguments regarding breach of the principle of proportionality must be rejected as unfounded.

214    In the second place, as regards the alleged breach of the right to property and of the freedom to conduct a business, it must be noted that the applicant’s right to property and freedom to conduct a business are restricted to a considerable degree on account of the adoption of the contested measures, since it may not, in particular, dispose of its funds situated within the territory of the European Union, except by virtue of special authorisation, and it may not conclude new transactions with its customers.

215    However, suffice it to note first of all that, unlike the circumstances of the case giving rise to the judgment in Kadi, paragraph 65 above, as is evident from the analysis of the second part of the first plea, the applicant was able to put its case to the Council in this instance.

216    Secondly, given the primary importance of maintaining international peace and security, the disadvantages caused are not inordinate in relation to the ends sought, especially because, as noted in paragraph 208 above, Articles 17 to 19 of Regulation No 961/2010 and Articles 24 to 28 of Regulation No 267/2012 provide for certain exceptions allowing the entities affected by restrictive measures to meet essential expenditure.

217    Accordingly, the arguments regarding breach of the right to property and the freedom to conduct a business must be rejected as unfounded, as must the fourth plea.

218    In the light of all the foregoing considerations, the measures of 23 May 2011 must be annulled in so far as they concern the applicant, and the action dismissed as to the remainder.

 The temporal effects of annulment of the measures of 23 May 2011

219    As regards the temporal effects of the annulment of the measures of 23 May 2011, it must be noted, in the first place, that Implementing Regulation No 503/2011, by which the applicant’s name was listed in Annex VIII to Regulation No 961/2010, ceased to have legal effect after the repeal of Regulation No 961/2010 by Regulation No 267/2012. Consequently, the annulment of Implementing Regulation No 503/2011 concerns only the effects which that measure produced between the date of its entry into force and the date of its repeal.

220    In the second place, as regards Decision 2011/299, by which the applicant’s name was listed in Annex II to Decision 2010/413, it must be noted that, under the second paragraph of Article 264 TFEU, the General Court may, if it considers it necessary, state which of the effects of the act which it has declared void are to be considered as definitive.

221    In the present case, given that, first, Implementing Regulation No 503/2011 has ceased to have legal effect, secondly, Implementing Regulation No 503/2011 and Decision 2011/299 impose identical measures on the applicant, and, lastly, since neither the measures of 1 December 2011 nor Regulation No 267/2012 have been annulled in respect of the applicant, the applicant remains subject to the restrictive measures, the Court considers that it is not necessary to maintain the temporal effects of Decision 2011/299.

 Costs

222    Under Article 87(3) of the Rules of Procedure, where each party succeeds on some and fails on other heads, the Court may order that the costs be shared or that each party is to bear its own costs.

223    Since the action has been partially successful, the Court considers it fair in the circumstances of the case to order the applicant to bear three fifths of its own costs and to pay three fifths of the costs incurred by the Council. The Council shall pay two fifths of the costs incurred by the applicant and bear two fifths of its own costs.

224    Under the first subparagraph of Article 87(4) of the Rules of Procedure, the Member States and institutions which intervened in the proceedings are to bear their own costs. Consequently, the United Kingdom and the Commission shall bear their own costs.

On those grounds,

THE GENERAL COURT (Fourth Chamber)

hereby:

1.      Annuls Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No 503/2011 of 23 May 2011 implementing Regulation (EU) No 961/2010 on restrictive measures against Iran, and Council Decision 2011/299/CFSP of 23 May 2011 amending Decision 2010/413/CFSP concerning restrictive measures against Iran, in so far as those acts concern Europäisch-Iranische Handelsbank AG;

2.      Dismisses the action as to the remainder;

3.      Orders Europäisch-Iranische Handelsbank to bear three fifths of its own costs and to pay three fifths of the costs incurred by the Council of the European Union;

4.      Orders the Council to bear two fifths of its own costs and to pay two fifths of the costs incurred by Europäisch-Iranische Handelsbank;

5.      Orders the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the European Commission to bear their own costs.

Pelikánová

Jürimäe

Van der Woude

Delivered in open court in Luxembourg on 6 September 2013.

[Signatures]

Table of contents


Background to the dispute

Procedure and forms of order sought

Law

The first plea: breach of the obligation to state reasons, of the rights of the defence and of the right to effective judicial protection

First part: breach of the obligation to state reasons

Second part: breach of the rights of the defence and of the right to effective judicial protection

– Whether the applicant may rely on the principle of respect for the rights of the defence

– Failure to state adequate reasons or to provide the applicant with sufficient information

– Lack of prior notice of the initial entry of the applicant’s name on the Lists

– Inadequacy of the formal review in the absence of a meeting between the applicant and the Council’s representatives or of a hearing of the applicant

The second plea: manifest error of assessment

The complaint that the Council did not provide proof of the transactions referred to in the grounds of the contested measures

The complaint that the conditions for entering and maintaining the applicant’s name on the Lists are not met

The complaint concerning the assessment of the listing proposal and the listing review

The third plea: breach of the principle of protection of legitimate expectations, of the principle of legal certainty and of the right to good administration

The plea of illegality raised against Article 20(1)(b) of Decision 2010/413, Article 16(2)(b) of Regulation No 961/2010 and Article 23(2) of Regulation No 267/2012

The fourth plea: breach of the principle of proportionality, of the right to property and of the freedom to conduct a business

The temporal effects of annulment of the measures of 23 May 2011

Costs


* Language of the case: English.


1 This judgment is published in extract form.