The IELR sends everyone best wishes for 2020. 2019 proved to be yet another important year for the international enforcement community. For the full version of our Holiday Perspective, please refer to ielr.com.
Tax transparency and enforcement remained prominent in our coverage. The IELR covered the victories of the Danish tax authority in the U.S. District Court in New York alleging fraud against U.S. pension funds. Prosecutions of tax enablers loomed large. Prof. Fred T. Davis wrote about the conviction of UBS AG and its French subsidiary in France in the context of France’s relative lack of success in prosecuting corporations involved in multinational crimes. HSBC Swiss agreed to pay Belgium €294.4 million to settle and a former HSBC chief pled guilty. A Liechtenstein-related Swiss bank settled a tax enabler case with the U.S. for $10.6 million. In the U.S., the DPA with HSBC brought $192.35 million in penalties. The EU added 9 jurisdictions to its tax haven blacklist.
We covered a number of international environmental enforcement stories. In particular, we reported on the roles of NGOs and data analytics in prosecuting illegal timber trade and deforestation, as well as attempted wildlife smuggling.
Migration enforcement continued to loom large. Linda Friedman Ramirez reported on the acquittal in a criminal case of a CBP agent, shooting from the U.S. and killing a Mexican national on the other side of the border. Evan Schleicher reported on the gaps between international law and justice in the Mediterranean migration crisis. In the U.S., while the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) called for cooperation, President Trump cut aid and closed the border. A Dutch court ordered the Netherlands to repatriate 56 children of ISIS from Syrian camps as Turkey started deportations. Lex Haris discussed Turkey’s action to repatriate ISIS members back to Europe.
The IELR covered several post-conflict threats, such as the UN mission in Colombia on the peace process, the International Criminal Court (ICC), and related developments. Prof. Michael Plachta covered the International Criminal Court’s troubling acquittal of Laurent Gbago, the former President of the Ivory Coast and his right-hand man. Evan Schleicher reported on the German appellate court overturning convictions of two Rwandans charged with war crimes. Prof. Plachta reported on the ICC’s rejection of the prosecutor’s request to investigate war crimes in Afghanistan. Alex Psilakis and Bruce Zagaris covered the U.S.’s revocation of an entry visa for the ICC prosecutor over the Afghanistan case.
Enforcement of international human rights was important. Ramirez reported on the award by a U.S. District Court of more than $202 million in damages to the family of journalist Marie Colvin, who was killed while on assignment in Syria. Prof. Plachta reported on the Council of Europe’s adoption of a resolution on fighting impunity by targeted sanctions in the Magnitsky case and beyond. Ramirez discussed the controversy over the U.S. Justice Department’s dismantling of the FBI’s International Human Rights Unit. Prof. Plachta discussed the Council of Europe’s call on Russia to re-open and continue the investigation into the murder of Boris Nemtsov. Zarine Kharazian reported on a U.S. District Court judge ordering N. Korea to pay $500 million to the family of Otto Warmbier in a wrongful death suit.
On genocide, Prof. Plachta discussed the proceedings Gambia brought against Myanmar before the ICJ over genocide against Rohingya.
INTERPOL developments were important in 2019. Kharazian and Psilakis covered the release of Bahraini soccer star and refugee Hakeem Al-Araibi amidst INTERPOL Red Notice complications. Yuriy Nemets and Ted Bromund wrote articles taking different positions on INTERPOL’s lack of power to act preemptively in fighting government abuse of the diffusion system. We covered a U.S. Congressional bill to curb INERPOL abuse after a Helsinki Commission Hearing.
Transnational corruption continued undergoing important developments. We covered ICE officials’ arrest of a Brazilian bribery suspect on a Brazil extradition request. An Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) expert group reported on anti-corruption, transparency, and integrity in Latin America and the Caribbean. Using Unexplained Wealth Orders, the UK forfeited £466,321 from the son of Moldova’s Prime Minister and recovered £6 million from members of an international money laundering ring, arising out of Croatia. Miranda Bannister reported on the U.S. crackdown of foreign influence on U.S. universities.
The IELR reported on several enforcement developments concerning the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). Skadden agreed to a civil settlement with the Department of Justice (DOJ) over FARA violations. The U.S. charged two of Flynn’s associates, the first National Security Advisor in the Trump administration, with FARA violations on the Gulen extradition case. The U.S. indicted former senior Mozambique officials and investment bankers for their roles in a $2 billion fraud and money laundering scheme.
On transparency and disinformation the IELR covered U.S. indictments of two former twitter employees and a Saudi national.
The IELR reported on emoluments cases brought against President Trump.
International money laundering cases were featured prominently in our reporting. We discussed the prosecutions in several countries, including France and Estonia, of Danske bank and its officials. Estonia ordered Danske Bank to close operations and investigated alleged links to Swedbank. The European Commission extended its money laundering blacklist and included Saudi Arabia. The New York Bar censured a lawyer for counseling clients to engage in fraudulent conduct. Ibtissem Lassoued discussed the UAE’s new AML law and FATF’s regional impact. In a conference, The United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and StAR reviewed options to prevent abuse of legal professional privilege.
Economic sanctions continued to be a hot topic. Farhad Mirzadeh covered how European solutions offered little hope for Iran in the face of U.S. sanctions. Berliner Corcoran & Rowe LLP attorneys discussed more sanctions targeting Venezuela’s Maduro regime. Psilakis discussed a UN Security Council report on how N. Korea has evaded sanctions imposed against it as well as U.S. sanctions against Venezuela and Cuba.
The IELR reported on international evidence gathering, particularly the DOJ’s white paper on the CLOUD Act, the conclusion by the U.S. of CLOUD Act agreements with the UK and Australia. Prof. Plachta reported on the UK court lifting an obligation to seek assurances from the U.S. in a death penalty case. Plachta also discussed the European Commission’s recommendation of negotiating a treaty with the U.S. on access to electronic evidence. Plachta discussed the second round of negotiations of the EU-U.S. treaty on access to electronic evidence.
As always, the IELR covered extradition matters. We reported several times on China-Canada-U.S. extradition tensions apparently arising from Canada’s detention of Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer and daughter of Huawei’s founder. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detained two high-net-worth fugitives from Ecuador convicted in absentia of crimes arising from a bank failure. The brothers have made substantial political contributions to U.S. politicians. In this connection, after Ecuador withdrew asylum from Julian Assange, we have reported on his detention by the UK on U.S. extradition requests and subsequent extradition proceedings.
The return and recovery of cultural property continues to loom large. Prof. Plachta reported on the European Parliament’s adoption of a resolution on cross-border restitution claims of works of art and cultural goods.
A major issue the IELR covered was the interplay of counterterrorism and international human rights. Psilakis reported on stripping citizenship, and the struggle of states to confront foreign fighters who are citizens that migrated to Syria to join ISIS.
On international narcotics enforcement, the IELR reviewed the State Department’s annual International Narcotics Control Strategy Report. We discussed the U.S. government’s imposition of sanctions to curb the flow of fentanyl from China. Also covered was the imposition of sanctions on a notorious drug kingpin’s organization and members, including two former Major League Baseball players. Prof. Luz E Nagle covered trans-border labor trafficking and forced servitude in marijuana growing operations.
On transnational organized crime developments the U.S. announced continued funding of N. Triangle law enforcement efforts. We reported on the meeting of prosecutors from the U.S., Colombia and Mexico for a transnational criminal organizations’ working group. We covered Mexico’s extradition of an alleged barrio Azteca shooter to the U.S.
The IELR discussed the progress in global competition enforcement cooperation, especially the initiative for a Multilateral Framework on Procedures, which the International Competition Network Steering Group adopted. This development shows how anti-trust authorities are developing harmonized norms and a cooperative framework.
Prof. Plachta covered enforcement developments in the context of economic integration. He covered the European Parliament’s approval of a new directive as well as the Council of Europe’s adoption of a resolution and recommendation on the protection of whistleblowers. Prof. Plachta discussed progress of the EU Justice and Home Affairs Council on law enforcement issues. Prof. Plachta covered the EU Court of Justice ruling on prison conditions as a prerequisite of the European Arrest Warrant. Prof. Plachta discussed 10 years of police and judicial cooperation within the EU under the Lisbon treaty.
With respect to arms trafficking, we covered the U.S. and Argentine governments’ seizure of arms targeting mainly Brazil. Prof. Plachta reported on the UK Appeal Court’s judgment ruling that ministers had acted unlawfully in allowing the sale of arms to Saudi Arabia when they might be used in violation of international humanitarian law in Yemen.
Cybercrime continued to increase. We covered international law enforcement against business email compromise scheme, resulting in 281 arrests. We covered Israel’s extradition of a Russian hacker to the U.S., ignoring Russian exchange requests. We covered a U.S. indictment of 10 persons in Nigerian romance scams. Lex Haris covered charges filed against two Russians accused of one of the largest cybercrime sprees in history.
On bilateral enforcement cooperation the IELR covered the halting by the U.S. of U.S.-Cuba enforcement dialogue and cooperation.
In regard to espionage, Miranda Bannister discussed the latest in China’s growing spy campaign against the U.S.
Miranda Bannister discussed human trafficking within her reporting on the victims in Essex Lorry incident and the latest in Europe’s human trafficking tragedies.
The IELR blog and social media presence continued to be active with close to 5,000 visits throughout the year and hundreds of new Twitter followers. A special highlight occurred in November, when the Cuban ambassador to the U.S. shared an IELR article on his social media platforms.
The IELR had two great assistant editors, Alex Psilakis and Alexandra Haris. The IELR continues to be distributed by LexisNexis, WestLaw, EBSCO, and William Hein & Co. each month. Premium subscribers can use the IELR search engine to identify and read all the back issues on our website.
The IELR was fortunate to have stellar contributions from its interns Evan Schleicher and more recently Miranda Bannister, who continually take on complicated topics and digest them to subscribers.
We hope you enjoy reading the IELR as much as we enjoy publishing it!
Best wishes for the New Year,
The IELR Team