Euro Interest Rate Derivatives cartel: European Commission corrects insufficient reasoning in decisions and imposes fines.

The European Commission adopted two decisions regarding the Euro Interest Rate Derivatives cartel, by which several European banks allegedly manipulated interest rates, such as the Euribor, for derivative products, which the Commission deemed contrary to Article 101 TFEU.

The Commission initiated an investigation in 2008 following a request for a fine exemption by a bank. Several other banks involved in the cartel also decided to cooperate under the leniency rules. Other banks under investigation refused to settle.

By its first decision, the Commission has now imposed total fines of nearly €32 million. The Commission originally imposed fines, but the General Court partially annulled its decision in 2019 for insufficient reasoning regarding to the calculation methodology, while acknowledging the bank’s participation in the cartel.

By its second decision, the commission amended its 2016 decision imposing fines in order to correct its insufficient reasoning concerning the fine methodology as understood by the General Court.

Vide

https://ec.europa.eu/competition/elojade/isef/case_details.cfm?proc_code=1_39914

Open dag Hoge Raad

De jaarlijkse open dag van de Hoge Raad vindt dit jaar plaats op zaterdag 18 september 2021.

Het programma van de open dag bestaat onder meer uit lezingen van en gesprekken met president Dineke de Groot en procureur-generaal Edwin Bleichrodt (in functie per 1 september 2021). Hierop aansluitend vindt een ontmoeting plaats met respectievelijk een raadsheer in en een advocaat-generaal bij de Hoge Raad.

Zie de website van de Hoge Raad:

https://www.hogeraad.nl/actueel/nieuwsoverzicht/2021/juni/online-open-dag-hoge-raad-zaterdag-18-september-2021/

Jaarverslag Hoge Raad 2020

De Hoge Raad heeft zijn jaarverslag over 2020 uitgebracht.

De totale instroom van civiele zaken was in 2020 439 (2019: 421). De 439 zaken betroffen in 254 gevallen vorderingszaken, 177 verzoekschriften en 8 zaken waarin prejudiciële vragen van rechtbanken en gerechtshoven werden gesteld aan de Hoge Raad. De uitstroom uitspraken bedroeg in 2020 393 (2019: 328). In 410 zaken werd een conclusie, een juridisch advies, gemaakt door een advocaat-generaal.

Van de 393 uitspraken in 2020 (2019: 328) werden 198 zaken (2019: 188) inhoudelijk afgedaan; dat is 50 procent (2019: 57 procent), 1 zaak met een artikel 80a Wet RO-afdoening (2019: 2) en 194 zaken met artikel 81 Wet RO (2019: 138). Afdoening met artikel 80a Wet RO vindt in de civiele kamer alleen bij zeer hoge uitzondering plaats; in 2020 gebeurde dat slechts in 1 zaak; in 2019 in 2 zaken. Een oorzaak van het geringe aantal artikel 80a Wet RO-afdoeningen is dat rechtsbijstand door een gespecialiseerde cassatieadvocaat in cassatiezaken verplicht is. Aan deze cassatieadvocaten worden kwaliteitseisen gesteld. Dit brengt met zich dat in verreweg de meeste zaken afdoening met artikel 80a Wet RO op voorhand niet in aanmerking komt. Met het geringe aantal artikel 80a Wet RO-afdoeningen hangt een toename van de gemiddelde doorlooptijd samen, omdat nauwelijks meer sprake is van eenvoudige zaken die vroegtijdig aan behandeling kunnen worden onttrokken.

Van het totaal aantal uitspraken in 2020 (393) werd in 262 zaken het cassatieberoep verworpen en 99 zaken vernietigd. Op het totaal van het aantal zaken/uitspraken is 25 procent vernietigd. Het overige percentage betreft andere afdoeningen.

Zie het jaarverslag:

Hoge Raad casseert in zaak van franchisenemers tegen Albert Heijn

De bezwaren van ruim 240 franchisenemers die zij in cassatieklachten hebben aangevoerd gebracht, zijn gegrond. De Hoge Raad casseert.

De Hoge Raad vindt een deel van de bezwaren van de franchisenemers terecht en oordeelt dat het gerechtshof Amsterdam bij de bepaling van de bedoeling van de partijen bij de franchiseovereenkomst een onjuiste maatstaf heeft toegepast. Ook vindt de Hoge Raad de bezwaren terecht die de franchisenemers hebben ingebracht tegen de wijze waarop het hof de begrippen ‘belastprijs’, ‘onverdeelde marge’ en ‘Action Discount Resultaat’ heeft uitgelegd. Kern van die bezwaren is dat het gerechtshof bij de uitleg van de franchiseovereenkomst en de hiervoor genoemde begrippen, een doorslaggevende rol heeft toegekend aan de wijze waarop de accountants van Albert Heijn en de vereniging van franchisenemers de franchiseovereenkomst hebben toegepast bij de controle van de afrekening tussen partijen. De franchisenemers betogen bovendien terecht dat het hof hen in staat had moeten stellen om hun stellingen te bewijzen door het horen van getuigen.

De Hoge Raad heeft het arrest van het gerechtshof Amsterdam vernietigd en de zaak verwezen naar het gerechtshof Den Haag, om de zaak verder te behandelen en te beslissen.

Ga naar de uitspraak: https://uitspraken.rechtspraak.nl/inziendocument?id=ECLI:NL:HR:2021:957&showbutton=true&keyword=ECLI%3aNL%3aHR%3a2021%3a957

EU’s changes to lists of sanctions concerning Egypt and Ukraine published

The Council of the European Union announced on 12 March 2021 that it would be making changes to its list of sanctions concerning Egypt and Ukraine.

Egypt

Further to the most recent review, sanctions (first imposed in 2011) against persons identified as responsible for the misappropriation of Egyptian state funds are removed, namely against nine Egyptian individuals by Council CFSP (Decision 2021/449) and Council Regulation 2021/445. The Council of the EU concluded that the regime had served its purpose.

Ukraine

Upon review, the Council of the EU decided to extend sanctions targeting those responsible for undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine (first imposed in March 2014) for a further six months until 15 September 2021 through Council CFSP Decision 2021/448 and Council Implementing Regulation 2021/446. This means sanctions will continue to apply to 177 individuals and 48 entities.

Vide:

https://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/?keyword=sanctions

AG Bobek: Takeover Directive precludes res judicata decisions imposing administrative penalties to parties not part of the proceedings

Advocate General Bobek rendered his Opinion in Adler Real Estate and Others  (Cases C-546/18 andC-605/18). He argues that Articles 4 and 17 of the Takeover Directive, in conjunction with Article 47 of the Charter, preclude national law provisions that provide for a decision with res judicata effects from imposing, in a subsequent administrative procedure, sanctions on parties who were not part of the preliminary proceedings.

The preliminary questions of the Austrian Supreme Court, that referred the case, concerned the procedural rights provided by EU law for persons who were not parties to the ‘first round’ of preliminary proceedings, but who may face, due to their corporate positions in the companies that were the parties in the first proceedings, sanctions imposed on them in the ‘second round’ of administrative proceedings.

AG Bobek advises the Court to rule that Articles 4 and 17 of the Takeover Directive and Article 47 of the Charter preclude the application of such national law provisions that may result in the imposition of penalties in such circumstances without exercising their rights of the defense or which fail to provide the parties access to an effective remedy before a tribunal.

Vide the Opinion:

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A62018CC0546

Third AML Directive does not preclude national legislation which provides that the person who commits the act which constitutes the offence of money laundering, may be the same person as the person who commits the predicate offence.

The referring court was the Court of Appeal, Brașov, Romania.

In the referring court’s view, the same person cannot be guilty both of the money-laundering offence, in one or other of its forms, and also of the predicate offence. The referring court notes that such an interpretation would derive not only from the preamble, but also from a grammatical, semantic and teleological analysis of Article 1(3) of Directive 2015/849 (Forth Anti Money laundering Directive). In addition, according to the referring court, to consider that the active subject of the predicate offence could also be the active subject of the money laundering offence would be to disregard the ne bis in idem principle.

The question asked by the referring court concerns whether the perpetrator of a predicate offence from which the laundered money originates may also be the perpetrator of the offence of money laundering as that conduct is defined in Article 1(3)(a) of Directive 2015/849.

The Advocate-General rephrases the question as that the referring court asks, in substance, whether the person who commits an act constituting money laundering, as defined by Article 1(2)(a) Directive 2005/60 (Third Anti Money Laundering Directive), may be the perpetrator of the offence from which the laundered money derives.

Opinion AG Hogan of 14 January 2021: article 1(2)(a) of Directive 2005/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 October 2005 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purpose of money laundering and terrorist financing, must be interpreted as not precluding national legislation which provides that the person who commits the act which constitutes the offence of money laundering may be the same person as the person who commits the predicate offence.

Vide the opinion:

http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=236434&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=lst&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=1432709

Advocate General Hogan: a third State may have legal standing in an action for annulment of restrictive measures adopted by the Council against that State

On 13 November 2017, the Council of the European Union adopted Regulation (EU) 2017/2063 concerning restrictive measures in view of the situation in Venezuela.

On 6 February 2018, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela brought an action before the General Court for annulment against the Regulation, in so far as its provisions concern it.

In its judgment of 20 September 2019, the General Court held that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela had not demonstrated that it was directly concerned by the measures within the meaning of the fourth paragraph of Article 263 TFEU. It decided that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela lacked the necessary standing to maintain its annulment action and the proceedings were accordingly held by the General Court to be inadmissible on that basis.

The present case concerns an appeal brought on 28 November 2019 by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela against the judgment of the General Court.

In his Opinion dated 20 January 2021, Advocate General Gerard Hogan proposes that the Court of Justice should rule that the General Court erred in law in so far as it held that the present proceedings were inadmissible for want of standing on the part of the appellant for the purposes of the fourth paragraph of Article 263 TFEU.

The Advocate-General also suggests that the present proceedings should be remitted to the General Court so that it can proceed to adjudicate on all remaining admissibility issues arising in the annulment proceedings brought by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and on the substance of its action.

Vide the opinion of the Advocate General:

http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf;jsessionid=5961A07B04447A4C0F569423F67F03AE?text=&docid=236702&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=req&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=1282312

Advisory Opinion EFTA Court beneficial ownership and General Data Protection regulation

In its decision of 22 December 2020, the EFTA Court issued its Advisory opinion regarding Article 30(1) of Directive (EU) 2015/849 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 May 2015 on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing (AML4).

The Advisory Opinion was issued pursuant to the request of the Liechtenstein’s Princely Court of Appeal (Fürstliches Obergericht) in the case between Bergbahn Aktiengesellschaft Kitzbühel vs. Meleda Anstalt (case E-10/19).

According to the Court Article 30 (1) AML4 must be interpreted as requiring a legal entity to take reasonable measures to seek to confirm the identity of its beneficial owner, such as requiring underlying documentation, when the circumstances of a situation present it with doubts as to the accuracy of the information received.

The obligation of a legal entity under Article 30(1) is not altered by the fact that the owning entity is a legal person with a registered office in an EEA State nor by the profession of its board members.

It is for the referring court to ascertain to what extent the information on beneficial ownership processed is in line with the principle of data minimization in point (c) of Article 5(1) of Regulation (EU) 2016/679 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data by being adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary to identify the beneficial owner and, if needed, to confirm the identity of the beneficial owner.

Point (v) of Article 3(6)(b) and point (c) of Article 3(6) of Directive (EU) 2015/849 cannot be interpreted as obliging anyone to prove the non- existence of indirect ownership or ultimate control by a natural person.

Vide the judgment:

Europese Commissie start gerechtelijke procedure tegen Spanje: Spaanse regels inzake administratieve aansprakelijkheid in strijd met beginselen van het EU-recht en belemmeren schadeloosstelling voor inbreuken op EU-recht.

De Europese Commissie heeft besloten Spanje voor het Hof van Justitie van de EU te dagen in verband met de Spaanse regels voor de vergoeding van schade die door de staat is veroorzaakt bij het aannemen van wetgeving die in strijd is met het EU-recht. Dit besluit past in het kader van de inbreukprocedure tegen Spanje die de Commissie op 14 juni 2017 heeft ingeleid.

De Commissie is van mening dat de Spaanse regels in strijd zijn met de beginselen van doeltreffendheid en gelijkwaardigheid, omdat zij de vergoeding afhankelijk stellen van een aantal cumulatieve criteria, die moeilijk te vervullen zijn en minder gunstig zijn dan die welke worden toegepast voor schendingen van de Spaanse grondwet.

Zie:

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_19_6299