Updated at 01:25,03-03-2021

Oligarch Piefcijeu seeks to lift sanctions through EU courts


Uladzimir Piefcijeu for two years has been suing Lithuania that has frozen the funds, transferred to a legal firm, fighting for his interests.

In June the representatives of the parties were invited to the Court of the European Union in Luxemburg, Ezhednevnik reports.

After in June 2012 it was announced that he was no longer a founder of the Beltech Holding and Beltechexport companies, the name of the once most influential Belarusian businessman Uladzimir Piefcijeu almost disappeared from the information field. Many experts saw in that the desire to take business away from the sanctions that the Council of the EU imposed in June 2011 (in April 2012 the list of the companies, related to Piefcijeu, was extended). The essence of the sanctions boils down to that Piefcijeu is banned from entering the territory of the EU, while his accounts and property is on freeze in the EU countries. His sanctioned companies are forbidden to make business in the territory of the EU countries.

In August 2011 Piefcijeu filed a lawsuit to the Court of the European Union, seeking to revoke the decision by the EU Council on the introduction of sanctions. The interests of the businessman and three of his companies at the time – Beltechexport, Sport-Pari and BT Telecommunications – were represented by an office of the Baltic legal company LAWIN.

As it follows from the materials of the new case that have been published in June on the web-site of the Court of the European Union, in August 2011 the businessman made a payment for the services of the lawyers. One of the clauses in the resolution of the European authorities, adopted back in 2006, on imposing sanctions against Belarusian high-level officials, responsible for violating international electoral standards, allows for so doing. In particular, competent authorities of an EU member state may take the decision that these funds (in reasonable amounts) are legitimate to be used for “reimbursing the costs related to the provision of legal services”.

However, in Piefcijeu’s case and the case of his three companies, the competent authorities – the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the counterpart of our Financial Investigations Service – Lithuania Ministry of Interior’s Service for Financial Investigations saw such reading as inapplicable and froze the funds transferred. In August 2013, though, Piefcijeu and Lithuanian lawyers managed to dispute the decision in Vilnius district administrative court, which supported the authors of the appeal. But the accounts have not been put out of the freeze. In their turn the MFA and the Financial Investigations Service appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania. The Court provisionally turned to a special body, called to interpret the decision, taken at the national level, in terms of their correspondence to the European legislation – the Court of the European Union.

In mid-June 2014 a session of the Court of the European Union took place and a decision has been made. The court sided with Piefcijeu and the companies, to which he had been related. But the final decision remains to be taken by Lithuanian judiciary.