We at the IELR send you the best wishes for a warm and joyous holiday season. 2020 was momentous for the international enforcement community, and we are grateful to have had you following along with our coverage.
M. Plachta covered many of the dynamic developments of the International Criminal Court, including the ICC Prosecutor’s 2019 report on preliminary examination activities, the NGO’s communication alleging responsibility for war crimes in Yemen and the Group of Experts’ Report Recommending reforms to the ICC and the Rome statute system, and the ICC Prosecutor’s refusal toopen an investigation in the Iraq/UK situation due to complementarity principle and the fact that the UK has investigated those cases. L. Haris covered Sudan’s investigations into crimes committed under Omar al-Bashir. Plachta discussed the request by the ICC prosecutor for the court to rule on jurisdiction in the Palestine situation and the ICC prosecutor’s affirmance of Palestinian statehood, opening the door to prosecution of alleged Israeli crimes. A. Tahir covered the surrender of a Sudan colonel to the ICC. B. Zagaris covered U.S. President Trump’s Executive Order imposing sanctions against key officials of the ICC because of the inclusion of U.S. officials in the Afghan investigation and subsequently a lawsuit by the Open Society and academicians against the Trump Administration, alleging such sanctions violate free speech.
On war crimes and preventing wars Zagaris discussed a UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria’s condemnation and call for the halt of atrocities against civilians as well as on the Global Fragility Act’s aim to stabilize conflict zones and prevent wars.
Crimes against humanity remain an important element of international criminal law. M. Beebe covered Spain’s sentencing a former El Salvadoran colonel to 133 years in prison for atrocities during the civil war. Plachta discussed the progress of a UK bill limiting liability for servicemen in armed conflict. Zagaris discussed a report on wrongdoing by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan has led to criminal investigations.
With respect to extraterritorial jurisdiction D. Boyle discussed the definition of a “U.S. Person” and whether any limits exist to U.S. jurisdiction under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. Zagaris discussed the U.S. indictment of a U.S. person for torture in Gambia.
Cybercrime continued to grow transnationally. Zagaris covered the U.S. indictment of four members of Chinese military for hacking into Equifax, the indictments against Chinese hackers and ordering the closure of the Chinese consulate in Houston. Zagaris covered the warnings and cations of international organizations of cyber attacks during the COVID pandemic.
Tax transparency and enforcement continued its dynamic development. Zagaris reported on the settlement by the Bank of China of its tax enforcement and money laundering with France for $4.2 million, the first coordinated tax enforcement actions by the J5 Chiefs, an indictment of the CEO of a multibillion-dollar software company for the largest-ever tax evasion, and Abu Dhabi establishment of a special court specialized on money laundering and tax evasion and a prosecution of foreigners for such crimes. Beebe and Zagaris discussed the use of letters rogatory in the Spanish cum-ex tax fraud suit in New York. Zagaris discussed the guilty plea yielded by the Panama Papers investigation from a former U.S. taxpayer and U.S. accountant, the detention by Britain of the founder of a Russian Bank on U.S. expatriation tax charges, the Belgian criminal investigation of Credit Suisse for tax crimes, and a US DOJ settlement for offshore tax evasion with Israel’s largest bank.
Money laundering, bank secrecy and transparency remained important. Zagaris reviewed Mark Pieth’s book on gold laundering. Zagaris covered the Corporate Transparency Act awaiting the President’s signature to become law, UK cases on unexplained wealth orders, such as the one against the Azerbaijani banker’s wife. A. Alguilar Alfu discussed Panama’s new legislation, requiring the registration of corporate entities. Zagaris discussed Swiss FINMA’s penalization of Julius Baer for violations relating to Venezuela and FIFA and FinCEN’s penalty against a compliance officer for a U.S. bank, and Pakistan’s new AML/CFT laws and regulations. Zagaris covered the fact that the Swedbank investigation showed gaps in Swedish and EU AML and sanctions compliance. Plachta and Zagaris covered the EU blacklisting of third countries failing to meet international AML standards. Plachta discussed the EU Parliament’s resolution on money laundering. Zagaris discussed the settlement between Malaysia and Goldman Sachs over the 1MDB scandal and the U.S. and EU annual initiatives against money mules. M. Bannister covered the U.S. Senate report on Russian oligarchs laundering through the U.S. art market. Bannister discussed the Antiquities Coalition’s recommendations to combat financial crimes in the U.S. art market.
On international asset recovery Zagaris covered the agreement by the U.S., Jersey, and Nigeria to repatriate more than $300 million of stolen Abacha funds to Nigeria as well as the U.S. returning $300 million to Malaysia in the 1MDB case, the Portuguese court’s seizure of Isabel dos Santos’ shares in a telecom firm in connection with the Angolan corruption investigation, and the Swiss freeze of $900 million from the former head of the Angolan Insurance Company. Zagaris covered the ECJ decision that Bulgarian non-conviction based forfeiture is lawful and Zagaris covered the U.S. appellate court decision against the City of Almaty trying to recover assets allegedly embezzled by its former mayor as well as the U.S. civil forfeiture action against Ukrainians for embezzling for Privatbank. Zagaris covered the order by a Montreal court to seize a jet in the Nigerian oil corruption case. Bannister covered Ireland’s agreement to return $6.5 million of looted funds to the Nigerian government. Zagaris discussed a U.S. civil forfeiture case against the U.S. property of the former Gambian President and the issuance in the U.K. of Magnitsky sanction regulations for international human rights abuses.
On transnational corruption Zagaris covered Angola froze assets of the daughter of its former President. SNC-Lavalin pleaded guilty to corruption-related fraud in Canada, several U.S. court cases on the emoluments case against Pres. Trump, and a USDOJ opinion on the applicability of the FCPA to an investment advisor. J. Rusch covered a Paris Criminal Court’s conviction and sentencing of the former longtime head of the IAAF Lameke Diack and his son Papa Massata Diack to prison for their roles in soliciting and accepting payments from Russian athletics to cover up allegations of doping in connection with the 2012 London Olympic Games. Zagaris and C. Ayres discussed the anti-corruption provisions in the U.S.-Brazilian trade facilitation protocol.
With respect to the production and use of chemical weapons, Zagaris discussed the OPCW’s confirmation of toxic chemicals in Navalny as the EU and other countries prepared sanctions in response to the incident.
On counter-terrorism, economic sanctions, and international human rights, Plachta discussed Germany’s listing of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, the EU’s reaction to recent terrorists through strengthening police partnerships and law enforcement cooperation, and the UN Special Rapporteur’s report on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism. C. Arrambide discussed the U.S. Commerce’s restrictions on exports with increased scrutiny on China, Russia and Venezuela. P. Bowal and T. Brierton covered a Canadian court decision, opening its courts to overseas human rights abuse claims. Beebe discussed the U.S. Supreme Court decision holding that plaintiffs suing a foreign government under the statutory exception for state-sponsored terrorism can seek punitive damages for terrorism. Zagaris discussed the EU’s expression of deep concern over growing U.S. unilateral sanctions against EU interests. J. Brock covered the Trump Administration’s sanctions on Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad, his family and associates. Zagaris discussed the USDOJ’s dismantling 3 terrorist financing of cyber-enabled campaigns. Bannister reported on the U.S. Treasury and EU initiatives that signaled a new Magnitsky era. H. Abdelhady discussed U.S. targeting Chinese belt and road project and the interplay of corruption, human rights, and geostrategy.
On the recovery and return of cultural property, Haris covered the international crackdown led by INTERPOL resulting in the confiscation of 19,000 artifacts and 101 arrests. Zagaris and Bannister covered the Dutch Ministry of Culture recommendations for the restitution of stolen cultural property to the former colonies. Bannister discussed Switzerland’s return of 26 stolen Etruscan artifacts to Italy.
On transnational organized crime and international sports Haris discussed the audit exposing financial irregularities in African soccer and FIFA’s continued issue with corruption. Bannister discussed a U.S. appellate court’s decision that the Greek Ministry can protect in U.S. courts its cultural patrimony.
On transnational organized crime (TOC) and narcotics enforcement Zagaris discussed the Executive Order against TOC, resulting in arrests of the Cártel de Jalisco Nueva Generación, the U.S. dismissal of narcotics-related charges against former Mexican Secretary of National Defense General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda, and a U.S. law enforcement operation in the Northern Triangle against TOC, netting 700 arrests. Zagaris also discussed the EU and law enforcement dismantling of encrypted network of TOC. Brock covered INTERPOL’s I-Can Global anti-mafia organization take down of alleged mafia fugitives.
With respect to international environmental enforcement, Zagaris discussed Ireland’s extradition of its national to the U.S. on charges of trafficking of rhino horns, the UNODC World Wildlife Crime Report, and the operation conducted by INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization against environmental crime. Tahir covered the arrest of an ivory smuggler in a Kenyan airport.
Migration enforcement emerged as a dynamically important area. Zagaris reported on U.S. ordering Mexican asylum seekers to Guatemala over Mexico’s objections and a lawsuit by civil society groups challenging the Trump Administration’s “Safe Third Country” Agreements. L. Ramirez discussed new reports revealing shameful outcomes for Central American asylum seekers. Beebe discussed an opinion by a Canadian Federal Court that the Safe Third Country Agreement between the U.S. and Canada was unconstitutional in light of certain U.S. asylum policies.
With respect to migration enforcement and INTERPOL Red Notices, Zagaris discussed the Board of Immigration’s decision, denying an alien’s asylum request on the basis of an INTERPOL Red Notice.
With respect to international human rights enforcement, Plachta discussed the UN Human Rights report’s allegations of deliberate starvation as a war crime in South Sudan as well as the Dutch government’s inter-state application against Russia in the MH17 case before the ECtHR. Zagaris covered the former Saudi intelligence officer’s suit against the Saudi Crown Prince for alleged assassination attempts and Italy charging four Egyptian National Security officials for the murder of an Italian PhD student, studying unions in Egypt. Plachta discussed the IACHR ruling that the U.S. is responsible for torture and refoulement of Guantanamo detainees. Bannister and Zagaris covered the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, affirming damages to Muslims wrongfully put on the No-Fly list by FBI officials to retaliate against them for refusing to cooperate.
Extradition and extradition alternatives stories remained critical. We covered the U.K.-U.S. tension over the refusal of the U.S. to extradite Anne Sacoolas, the wife of a U.S. diplomat for vehicular homicide. Plachta covered the EU Court of Justice’s clarification in a judgment of “dual criminality in the European Arrest Warrant’s procedure. Zagaris discussed France’s exchange of an Iranian national with Iran instead of acceding to the U.S.’s extradition request, the Israeli court’s decision that an accused Israeli pedophile can be extradited to Australia, and Germany extradition request of the Panama Papers’ lawyers. Brock reported on the arrest warrant issued by S. Africa for a fugitive preacher in Malawi for fraud and money laundering. Zagaris also covered the U.S. court’s approval of extradition to Bosnia and Herzegovina for rape charges, the French government’s arrest and extradition of a suspect indicted on genocide and other charges in Rwanda and a U.S. Magistrate Judge’s approval of extradition of the Taylors to Japan for helping with the Ghosn escape. Zagaris reported on Suriname’s arrest warrant for the missing former Finance Minister recently seen on the Guyanese border with Suriname. Plachta discussed the European Parliament’s study on the implementation of the European arrest warrant. Zagaris covered the Canadian extradition case against Huawei CFO Meng and apparent retaliation by China against Canadian nationals.
With respect to international evidence gathering, Plachta discussed the judgment of the UK Supreme Court that the government’s decision to cooperation with U.S. authorities over the prosecution of two alleged ISIS executions (the “Beatles”) without assurances that they would not face the death penalty was unlawful because it breached the data protection rules. Zagaris discussed the USDOJ’s ultimatum to the UK, promising not to impose the death penalty if the UK shares the evidence by Oct. 15, 2020 or thereafter the U.S. will surrender them to Iraq.
With respect to international tribunals G. Naldi and K. Magliveras covered the ICJ’s indication of provisional measures in the Rohinga genocide case. Plachta covered the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s verdict over the 2005 killing of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri. Magliveras covered developments on the hybrid court for South Sudan.
Zagaris covered the U.S. issuance of sanctions against three employees of the Internet Research Agency, a troll farm in Russia, for disseminating disinformation on social media as part of the alleged Russian election interference campaign in 2016.
Plachta contributed many articles on economic integration and international enforcement, including the Council of Europe’s acting on artificial intelligence and international cooperation and the adoption by the European Commission of a new EU security union strategy for 2020-2025 and three action plans. Zagaris covered the increase by the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement of IP and environmental enforcement and EUROPL’s start of the European Financial and Economic Crime Center. . Plachta and K. Guzior discussed the European Commission’s consultation on changes to Europol’s mandate.
International intellectual property enforcement continued to cause diplomatic tension. Zagaris discussed the superseding indictment against Huawei and subsidiaries for stealing trade secrets and racketeering. E. Bouquet covered the U.S. enforcement effort “Operation Mega Flex” and its impact on U.S.-China relations. Boyle covered “The China Initiative”: the USDOJ’s country specific focus on the PRC.
International narcotics enforcement remained an important area of international cooperation. Bouquet covered the U.S. charging of Genaro Garcia Luna, the former Secretary of Public Security of Mexico for cocaine trafficking and making false statements, and the Italian extradition of a Sinaloa cartel trafficker and former Mexican police officer to the U.S. Haris discussed the U.S. indictment of Venezuela’s head-of-state Nicolás Maduro on narcoterrorism charges. Zagaris covered the U.S. seizure of $30 million in drugs in tunnel under the U.S-Mexican border and the U.S.’s contradictory posture on the drug war in Honduras, and the Belgian police’s seizure of 11.5 tons of cocaine from a ship in Guyana.
On transnational fraud Zagaris discussed an English High Court’s decision to override the legal professional privilege in a transnational fraud case, Vanuatu’s rendition of an alleged art swindler to Guam on U.S. fraud charges, and an indictment against a Cameroonian in Romania for online “puppy scams.”
With respect to international securities enforcement and international organizations, Zagaris discussed IOSCO’s report on regulatory issues on stablecoins.
Online child sex exploitation abuse is an increasingly prominent issue. Zagaris covered the agreement by five countries on steps to counter online child sexual exploitation and abuse.
Plachta discussed the Council of Europe’s recommendations on transfer of prisoners between states.
We are grateful for the continuing long partnership with Professor Michael Plachta. Miranda Bannister started as an intern for the IELR in 2020 and became assistant editor of the journal upon graduating from Johns Hopkins University. Meanwhile, Lex Harris left as assistant editor of the IELR at the start of the summer to attend the Washington College of Law, American University. The IELR has benefitted from interns Julia V. Brock of Scripps College and Afrah Tahir of the University of California, Berkeley, since they joined the team this June.
We thank you for your support of the IELR this year and wish you health and happiness in the New Year.