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On 28/10/2023, the client of LINNIKOV & PARTNERS — a major credit institution based in Belarus — received an official communication from the Belgian Ministry of Finance, in which the regulator announced the withdrawal of its decision on refusal to grant a license to unblock the client’s assets of significant value deposited with the Euroclear Bank via an EU-based brokerage house.

On 30/10/2022, the LINNIKOV & PARTNERS client, which manages a significant portfolio of securities accounted for in the Euroclear system, addressed to the Belgian Treasury with an application to unblock these securities, motivating the request, inter alia, with the fact that none of the persons in the custody chain of the securities in question are subject to the EU restrictive measures.

It should be noted that the applicant acts as a trustee on behalf of a large number of individuals who, like the applicant itself, are residents of the Republic of Belarus. The securities were deposited into the Euroclear account of a Cypriot broker, were suspected to be subject to EU sanctions and, therefore, blocked.

On 27/06/2023, the applicant received a refusal from the Belgian Treasury to unblock assets justified with the alleged non-compliance of the request with special rules for submission of applications for unblocking assets held in the accounts of the Russian National Settlement Depository (“NSD”). At the same time, the Treasury has apparently disregarded the fact that the application had no connection to the NSD and both persons are registered in different states — Russia and Belarus, respectively.

At the end of September, the attorneys of LINNIKOV & PARTNERS filed a complaint on behalf of the client challenging the unjustified refusal with the State Council of Belgium. Without waiting for the case to be considered on the merits, the Treasury decided to withdraw its decision, thus, recognizing the exhaustive evidence contrive in the brief prepared by the L&P attorneys. Consideration of the application has been reinitiated, which means that the applicant will have a chance to invoke its right to an official hearing of the case with the Treasury of Belgium.

«This case is unprecedented, since it is not regulated in any of the documents establishing the procedure for considering appeals to the Ministry of Finance or the State Council. Usually, the decision taken by the Treasury remains unchanged until it is reversed or amended by higher administrative and judicial instances, in which the Belgian Ministry of Finance defends its initial position to the end. In this particular situation, we see that the Ministry of Finance has acknowledged our reasoning and decided to repeal its decision prior to its review by the Council of State. Despite this, we still have a lot of work to do in order to properly update and reinforce the original application. Within the framework of the rights given to us by the law, we will try to get our position across to the Belgian financial authorities in the most consistent and convincing way,” — comments Anton Minakov, the one of the leading attorneys of the L&P International Trade, Finance & Sanctions practice group.
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