We at the IELR send you the best wishes for a warm and joyous holiday season. 2021 was momentous for the international enforcement community, and we are grateful to have had you following along with our coverage during our 37th year of discussing international enforcement developments.
We are grateful for the continuing long partnership with Professor Michael Plachta and for contributions from practitioners and professors, including Dr. Ted Bromund, Frederick T. Davis, Michele Estlund, Dr. Scott MacDonald, Dennis Boyle, Konstantinos Magliveras, Yuriy Nemets, Spencer A. Hill, Peter D. Hardy, Kateryna Boguslavska, Matteo Formaggi, and Linda Friedman Ramirez. Miranda Bannister finished her tenure as assistant editor in February. Marwah Adhoob, who specialized in criminology as an undergrad, energetically replaced her. Our legal assistants Sara Kaufman and Emma Byrne ably contributed articles. Our interns, Mitchell Beebe, Elena Botts, Kayla DeAlto, Austin Max Scherer, Teddy David, Jamie Jang, Kenneth Boggess, and Julia V. Brock, contributed some great pieces.
The following is a highlight of some of the articles we covered.
International Criminal Court
The International Criminal Court was prominent in our coverage. Plachta discussed the territorial jurisdiction of the ICC in the Palestine/Israel Case as well as the ICC Prosecutor closing a preliminary examination in Colombia and concluding an agreement with the Colombian government. K. DeAlto discussed the Central African Republic’s surrender of Said Abdel Kani to the ICC. M. Beebe and Zagaris wrote articles about the U.S. District Courts’ blocking President Trump’s executive order, sanctioning ICC officials. Zagaris discussed President Biden’s revocation of the Trump executive order.
War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity
On war crimes and crimes against humanity, Brock discussed the reversal by the South Korean court of the 2018 on “comfort women” and ordered Japan to pay reparations to the families of 12 women forced to work as sex slaves. Plachta discussed the ECHR’s decision on German responsibility for an air strike in Afghanistan. David and Kaufman respectively discussed German courts’ convictions of a former Syrian secret police officer and a Syrian military doctor for crimes against humanity and Adhoob discussed a German court’s conviction of a woman for crimes against humanity in the death of a Yazdi girl in Syria. Likewise, Adhoob detailed the enforcement actions of the UN with regards to genocide, such as UN’s opening of an inquiry into Sri Lanka’s alleged war crimes during its civil war as well as the UN investigation team’s conclusion that ISIL’s crimes against Yazidis constitute genocide. Adhoob discussed a report by a U.S. law firm, finding France responsible for the Rwandan genocide. Zagaris and Adhoob wrote about the UN Human Rights Council’s adoption of a resolution to start a Commission of Inquiry on the latest Israel-Palestine conduct. Jang discussed the African Union’s starting of a Commission of Inquiry on the war in Ethiopia. David wrote about the conviction in a Swiss court of a Liberian warlord, putting the spotlight on universal jurisdiction and Liberian accountability. Zagaris covered the French Supreme Court’s overturning of the dismissal of complicity for crimes against humanity against multinational enterprise Lafarge for its conduct in Syria. Boggess discussed the UN Human Rights Council’s Independent Fact-Finding Mission renewing its mandate as a UN report warns of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Ramirez wrote about a judgment of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, finding Colombia responsible for a journalist’s abduction twenty years before.
Tax transparency and Enforcement
With respect to tax transparency and enforcement, Zagaris wrote about the EU Parliament’s adoption of a resolution to toughen the tax haven blacklist, the OECD’s call for action to disrupt, prevent, and prosecute criminal conduct by professional enablers, the OECD’s new edition of fight tax crime, and the many cases against tax enablers, including the cum-ex dividend fraud cases, as well as a federal court’s approval of a John Doe Summons for a Panamanian law firm dealing with U.S. clients. Scherer also wrote about how charges against professionals illustrate the shifting legal landscape for professional enablers. Zagaris also discussed the U.S. Tax Court decision against a constitutional challenge to passport denial for delinquent taxpayers and about a founder of a Russian bank pleading guilty to tax fraud, including falsifying his expatriation statement. Zagaris discussed the Nigerian government’s start of voluntary offshore assets London declaration facilities and its application to foreign enablers. Zagaris wrote about a CJEU decision mandating enforcement of tax information request even without the taxpayer’s specific name and identity.
Money Laundering, Bank Secrecy and Transparency
On money laundering, bank secrecy and transparency, Boguslavska discussed how the 10th Basel AML index highlights four worrying gaps in global AML efforts. Zagaris wrote several articles on the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020, as well as FinCEN’s proposed regulations on beneficial ownership and the ANPRM on beneficial information on real estate purchases. MacDonald wrote about Suriname’s corruption and money laundering challenges. Adhoob and Zagaris wrote about the FinCEN notice informing financial institutions of money laundering dangers from illicit art and antiquities trade. Plachta discussed the Council of Europe’s adoption of a resolution and recommendation on strengthening FIUs. Zagaris discussed the Cayman AML regulator’s crack down after the FATF greylisting. Scherer discussed how the Xizhi Li conviction showed an application of money laundering techniques for laundering drug proceeds on behalf of foreign drug-trafficking organizations. Zagaris discussed the implications of the Pandora Papers and the proposed new enforcement actions of the European Parliament in the wake of the Pandora Papers.
Counter-terrorism, Economic Sanctions and Human Rights
Counter-terrorism, economic sanctions and human rights were continuing topics. Plachta discussed the adoption by the European Commission of a new counter-terrorism agenda and a proposal for amending Europol regulation. Adhoob discussed the ACLU’s suit on alleged discrimination by the U.S. “no-fly list” against Arabs and Muslims. Zagaris covered China’s adoption of blocking legislation and counter-sanctions. Bannister covered the Biden Administration’s countering the Trump Administration’s sanctions against the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Zagaris discussed the ruling of the EU Advocate General that a German telecom cannot cancel a contract with an Iranian bank without showing the cancellation was not due to U.S. sanctions.
On counter-terrorism financing, Adhoob discussed U.S. prosecution of a woman extradited by the Dutch for terrorist financing through a charity. Zagaris wrote about a French donor’s financial contributions to the U.S. alt-right before the capitol assault and the need to apply counter-terrorism financial enforcement tools as well as a meeting between G7 and EU Security ministers on cooperation on countering racially and ethnically motivated extremism.
Transnational Corruption and Asset Forfeiture
With respect to transnational corruption and asset forfeiture, Zagaris discussed the Justice Department’s civil forfeiture suit against two alleged Ukrainian kleptocrats, a settlement by Deutsche bank of an FCPA and commodities case. Bannister and Adhoob covered in separate articles the fishrot scandal in Namibia, where Icelandic Samherji employees allegedly paid bribes to Namibian government officials for rights to fish for horse-maskerel. Boyle discussed the Biden Administration’s policy toward Central America and the challenges posed by corruption. Zagaris contributed a piece on U.S.-N. Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act setting the stage for new U.S. policy. Zagaris discussed the British Commission on Inquiry’s investigation of alleged corruption in the BVI as well as the Biden memorandum declaring anti-corruption a core U.S. national security interest. Zagaris wrote about the Dutch court’s agreement with a report calling the Santos-linked Angolan energy deal corrupt. Zagaris discussed the Amec Foster Wheeler’s global corruption settlement with the U.S., U.K., and Brazil. Zagaris discussed the return by the U.S. government of an additional $452 million in forfeited 1MDB funds to Malaysia as well as the DOJ’s return of over $32m in forfeited funds to FIFA victims.
Illegal Production and Use of Weapons
With respect to the illegal production and use of weapons, Zagaris discussed a suit by the Mexican government against U.S. arms manufacturers for illicit trafficking in arms as well as the guilty plea in the U.S. in the first successful prosecution of exportation and manufacturing of firearms to the Mexican Cartels. Adhoob discussed the U.K. and U.S. sanctions on seven Russian agents and entities over the Alexi Navalny poisoning. Zagaris discussed a ECtHR’s decision finding Russia responsible for the assassination of Litvinenko and Britain naming a third Russian suspect in the poisoning of Skripal.
Extraterritorial jurisdiction remained controversial. Fred Davis discussed the Second Circuit’s decision, opening the door a bit to non-citizen defendants challenging a court’s jurisdiction in criminal cases and also the partial clarification by the Second Circuit of the procedures applicable to prosecution of foreign sovereign owned enterprises. Zagaris discussed Bahrain’s return of a U.S. citizen to the U.S. to face charges of murdering his mother in Bahrain as well as an Italian court’s ordering four Egyptians to stand trial in the kidnapping and killing of an Italian student in Egypt. Zagaris wrote about a Spanish court’s ordering Banco de Chile to set aside $103 million for its role in money laundering from the Pinochet expropriations and about the EU Commission proposals for major revisions in its AML/CFT laws.
Recovery and Return of Cultural Property
On the recovery and return of cultural property, Zagaris discussed the German-Nigeria agreement on the return of Benin bronzes as well as the DOJ forfeiture action for 10th century statute looted from Cambodia, and the return by U.S. Homeland Security of hundreds of looted artifacts to Mali. Adhoob covered the U.S. return of looted artifacts to Iraq stolen after the U.S. invasion as well as the discussion between Met officials and U.S. investigators of returning to Cambodia artifacts stolen from ancient sites.
Transnational Organized Crime
On transnational organized crime, Plachta discussed the consequences and prospects for the UN (Palermo) Convention against Transnational Organized Crime on its 20th anniversary. Adhoob discussed the arrest by Italian police of suspected Black Axe members for fraud and other serious crimes. Boggess covered the international dark web bust operation DarkHunTOR following the dark market seizure by U.S. and EU law enforcement.
On international narcotics enforcement, transnational organized crime and corruption, Zagaris wrote about Mexico exonerating its ex-defense chief and enacting a law pausing enforcement cooperation with the U.S. Bannister wrote about the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs’ vote to remove cannabis from the list of Schedule IV narcotics. Zagaris wrote about the U.S. detention of the wife of “El Chapo” and the guilty plea to violating the Kingpin Act by the daughter of the head of the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación. Hill and Hardy discussed a UN report targeting corruption and illicit cross-border finance. Kaufman covered ANOM, a global covert investigation conducted by law enforcement worldwide through an encrypted App, yielding 800 arrests. Zagaris wrote about Mexico’s suit in U.S. court in Florida to recover assets from former security chief linked to the Sinaloa cartel. Adhoob discussed the Italian police’s dismantlement of an international drug trafficking ring operated by the ‘Ndrangheta mafia clan.
International Environmental Enforcement
With respect to international environmental enforcement, Zagaris covered Kenya’s extradition of its citizen for trafficking rhino horns, elephant ivory, and heroin. Byrne discussed illicit ivory trafficking from Angola to Vietnam. Adhoob wrote about the S. African arrest of a hunter for illegal possession of rhino horns. Zagaris discussed how U.S. prosecutions of three wildlife trafficking violations show the rising incidence of these crimes.
Migration enforcement received significant focus. Byrne discussed the INTERPOL operation targeting human trafficking and migrant smuggling in approximately 24 countries. Adhoob covered the U.S. State Department’s 2021 trafficking in persons report and the impact of misinformation and Covid-19 on human trafficking. Adhoob also discussed a State Department’s lawyer’s resignation due to a Biden Administration policy on asylum Kaufman discussed the 5th Circuit’s decision rejecting the Biden Administration’s efforts to end Migration Protections Protocols. Plachta wrote about the EU’s responses to human smuggling in the Belarus border crisis.
International human rights and enforcement,
With respect to international human rights and enforcement, Plachta discussed the EU adoption of Magnitsky-type global human rights sanctions regime. Magliveras discussed the first application of sanctions under the EU’S Magnitsky Act on Russia. Zagaris wrote about Turkey’s arrest of an Iranian dissident’s coinciding with Freedom House’s transnational repression report as well as about the signing by 58 nations of a declaration against arbitrary detention of foreign and dual nationals. Botts wrote about OFAC’s naming three Bulgarians under the Global Magnitsky Act for corruption. Kaufman discussed how events in Haiti and C.A.R. show the threats posed by mercenaries to international peacekeeping. Adhoob covered ECOWAS’ demanding answers in the alleged detention of Mali’s former interim leaders as well as Qatar’s imprisoning a Kenyan for blogging about low-income Kenyan migrants work conditions in Qatar.
Extradition and Extradition Alternatives
Developments on extradition and extradition alternatives remained critical. Ramirez and Boggess wrote articles about the extradition of Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab to the U.S., notwithstanding his claims of diplomatic immunity. Zagaris wrote several articles about the Assange extradition decisions by U.K. courts and the U.S. extradition of the father and son for helping Carlos Ghosn escape from Japan. Zagaris covered the S. African court’s overruling the Justice Minister in ruling the former Mozambique Finance Minister will be extradited to the U.S. rather than Mozambique.
Nemets discussed how the U.S. Immigration court’s handling of INTERPOL Red Notices and diffusions suggests a uniform approach. Estlund and Bromund summarized and assessed the 2019 changes in INTERPOL’s rules on the processing of data. Zagaris discussed the CJEU decision against detention for INTERPOL Red Notice due to ne bis in idem (dual criminality).
International Evidence Gathering
With respect to international evidence gathering, Jang discussed how the Gupta brothers’ corruption scandal invoked the ratification of a new mutual legal assistance and extradition treaty between S. Africa and the UAE. Adhoob covered the Netherlands’ funding the Iraq UNITAD witness protection program to promote accountability for crimes committed by ISIL.
Economic Integration and International Enforcement
Plachta contributed many articles on economic integration and international enforcement, including the European Parliament’s call for improvement of implement and application of the European Arrest Warrant (EAW), and the EU Court of Justice’s rejection of “automatic refusal” of EAWs issued by Polish authorities. Zagaris discussed the Eurojust’s new funding initiative for joint investigation teams. Scherer discussed the EU whistleblower protection directive the Jonathan Taylor extradition. Plachta covered the adoption by the Council of Europe of a resolution on political responsibility for corruption as well as the European Commission releases of three proposals to strengthen and enhance police cooperation across the EU.
On maritime piracy, Scherer discussed the shipping industry task force initiative against maritime piracy in the Gulf of Guinea. Adhoob discussed the Nigerian high court’s sentencing of 10 pirates for the hijack of a Chinese vessel.
With respect to international tribunals, Zagaris discussed the affirmation by the Appeals Chamber of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals of the conviction of Ratko Mladić’ for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, as well as the closure of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and how the closure raises questions about international tribunals.
International Sex Trafficking
Mr. Zagaris contributed articles on international sex trafficking, especially the U.S. and Canadian charges against the Canadian fashion tycoon Peter J. Nygard.
Online Child Sex Exploitation Abuse
With respect to online child sex exploitation abuse, Zagaris covered U.S. indictments and INTERPOL’s pursuit of international enterprises and individuals involved in online sexual exploitation. He wrote about the EU Justice & Home Affairs Council initiatives on the digital dimension of child sexual abuse.
Cybercrime continued to grow exponentially. Zagaris discussed cooperation between the EU and eight countries in taking down dangerous the malware EMOTET, the DOJ’s participation in global disruption of NetWalker ransomware, and Australia’s extradition of two defendants in an auto-subscribing cyber fraud scheme. Zagaris discussed the U.S. indictment against three N. Korean military hackers. Adhoob discussed the imposition by the Biden Administration of sanctions against Russia for alleged election interference and SolarWinds cyber hacks as well as the guilty plea of a crypto expert to assisting N. Korea evade sanctions. Zagaris covered U.S. sanctions against a Russian-owned crypto-exchange for ransomware activities as well as the U.S. indictment and sanctions against Iranians for cyber-enabled disinformation regarding the 2020 Presidential Campaign. Scherer wrote about cases involving the seizing illicit proceeds of and combating ransomware attacks. Zagaris covered the guilty plea by the director and promoter of BitConnect for its participative in a massive fraud conspiracy. Formaggi discussed China’s declaration of all cryptocurrency transactions illegal while the U.S. and EU prepared further crypto regulation. Zagaris discussed the arrests and seizures by 17 countries of alleged ransomware extortionists. Plachta covered the adoption by the Council of Europe of the Second Protocol to the Cybercrime (“Budapest”) Convention.
International Anti-trust Enforcement Cooperation
On international anti-trust enforcement cooperation, Zagaris discussed the DOJ’s Antitrust Division summary of its 2020 international achievements.
Export Control and Economic Sanctions
With respect to export control and economic sanctions, Boggess discussed the CEO quitting after the U.S. Commerce Department blacklisted Israeli spyware firm NSO Group. Zagaris wrote about the Mashreqbank settlement with OFAC, the Federal Reserve and NYDFS for violating the Sudan sanctions.
Illegal, Unregulated, and Unreported Fishing
With respect to illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing, Adhoob wrote about Bolivia’s signing an MOU to strengthen compliance/transparency in the fishing industry.