We at the IELR send you best wishes for a new year. 2023 was momentous for the international enforcement community, and we are grateful to have had you following along with our coverage during our 39th 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 the Aljohrh Al Abdulsalam, Basel Institute, Kayla de Alto, Dr. Ted Bromund, Frederick T. Davis, Uttam Dhillon, Meg Hobbins, Valentina Lana, Elisabeth Lees, Luz E. Nagle, Konstantinos Magliveras, Gino Naldi, Yuri Nemets, Linda Friedman Ramirez, Adriana Sanford, and Michel Sapin. Alexander Mostaghimi finished his tenure as assistant editor in July and is now doing his first year at law school at Boston College. Justin DePrado has capably served as assistant editor. Other Berliner Corcoran & Rowe LLP interns, Jack Crovitz, Rachel Hage, Elena Maghsoodnia as well as legal assistants, such as Savannah Telfer and Regan Allen contributed articles.
We are also grateful for our partnerships with LexisNexis, WestLaw, EBSCO, and William Hein & Co. in our distribution of the IELR.
The following is a highlight of only some of the articles we covered.
Crimes against humanity and international human rights abuses had many articles: Mostaghimi discussed the sentencing by the Kosovo Specialist Chambers of a former KLA commander for war crimes as well as the trial against the former Kosovo head of state and 3 other leaders as well as the approval by a UN Committee of a resolution to establish a convention to prevent crimes against humanity. Plachta discussed the decision of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights allowing admissibility of the case of Ukraine and the Netherlands against Russia on the downing of the MH17 plane. Mostaghimi discussed the suit in a U.S. court by a Syrian-American against the Syrian Government for torture in its detention centers. Hage discussed a French Supreme Court case clarifying “universal jurisdiction” standard for claims in France. DePrado discussed a German court sentencing a German national for crimes committed abroad while in membership of the Islamic state. Plachta discussed the ICJ order on provisional measures requested by Armenia against Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh on the basis of racial discrimination. Zagaris covered the French arrest warrant issued for Assad and others for chemical attacks against civilians.
Concerning Genocide and War Crimes, Zagaris wrote about the enactment by the U.S. Congress of the Justice for Victims of War Crimes Act. Mostaghimi covered a German court’s sentencing of a Syrian-Palestinian war criminal. Plachta covered the new Convention on International Cooperation in the Investigation and Prosecution of Serious International Crimes as well as the torture case brought by the Netherlands and Canada against Syria in the ICJ. Maghsoodnia discussed the S. African authorities arrest of a Rwandan genocide suspect to stand trial in Rwanda. Allen discussed Belgium and the Netherlands joining the EU-based joint investigation team to prosecute perpetrators of war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Yazidi people.
With respect to international human rights enforcement, Mostaghimi covered the dismissal by a U.S. court of a lawsuit against the Saudi Crown Prince due to the Head-of-State immunity in the Khashoggi murder. At the same time, Hage discussed the suit brought by Khashoggi’s husband against NSO Group Technologies for the use of spyware Pegasus and allegedly hacking her phone. Telfer discussed the Inter-American Court of Human Rights decision holding Bolivia responsible for forced disappearances. Telfer also discussed the verdict against a Haitian ex-mayor under the Victim & Torture Protection Act. Zagaris discussed U.S. charges against 30 Chinese police officers for operating an illegal police station in the U.S. Plachta discussed the UN Special Rapporteur’s critical appraisal and recommendations following her visit to Guantanamo. Zagaris discussed the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention report, demanding that the U.S. release Abu Zubaydah from Guantanamo. Plachta covered the CoE’s demanding an investigation into PEGASUS spyware abuse, while Zagaris discussed the Government Accountability Office’s calls for better enforcement of U.S. laws against transnational repression in the U.S. Crovitz covered the settlement between a former Bolivian President and victims of 2003 extrajudicial killings after a civil trial in U.S. court. Plachta covered the European Court of Human Rights judgment against Turkey for prosecution of individuals for the attempted coup in 2016.
International tax enforcement was prominent. Zagaris wrote several articles about the cum-ex dividend scandal, including the extradition by the UAE of Shah to Denmark. Zagaris covered the deportation by Costa Rica of a U.S. tax fugitive. Ramirez discussed the European Court of Human Rights’ decision overturning the conviction of a whistleblower in Luxembourg. Zagaris discussed a U.S. court’s order to enforce a subpoena against Banco Santander concerning an Argentine tax dispute. Zagaris discussed the Spanish tax authorities’ allegations of tax fraud against Shakira as well as the agreement by 48 countries to implement a global tax transparency framework for reporting and exchange of information for crypto assets. Zagaris covered the entering into a DPA by the Swiss private bank Pictet for tax crimes conspiracy as well as the Danish Supreme Court ruling a Danish law firm liable for advising a German bank on cum-ex dividend transactions.
International securities enforcement continues to receive attention. Mostaghimi discussed IOSCO’s enactment of cryptocurrency regulation.
Transnational corruption, transparency, and international asset forfeiture loomed large in coverage. Valentina Lana and Michel Sapin wrote about the impact of the Sapin II Act on the extraterritorial application of U.S. law and on cooperation between France and the U.S. in combating transnational corruption. Mostaghimi and Plachta wrote articles about Qatargate: a shock test to the EU’s transparency and accountability framework as well as one on the European Parliament’s recommendations and adoption of reforms arising out of Qatargate. Zagaris covered Angola’s recovery of $5 billion of stolen and embezzled assets. Zagaris discussed LM Ericsson’s guilty plea for FCPA violations in a Deferred Prosecution Agreement. Zagaris wrote about the U.S.’s decision to share funds forfeited from former Bayelsa governor with Nigeria. Mostaghimi wrote about the seizure in S. Africa of assets of Equatorial Guinea’s Vice President to compensate damage awards to a torture victim. Zagaris covered the first joint resolution between the U.S. and Colombia in the Odebrecht bribery case.
Human trafficking remained important. Zagaris covered the international police operation, arresting the head of a human smuggling network in Sudan.
On Counterterrorism and International Human Rights, Plachta discussed the action of the Council of Europe (COE) on former foreign (ISIL) terrorist fighters returning to Europe as well as the COE’s adoption of a new counter-terrorism strategy for 2023-2027. Zagaris covered the Canadian Prime Minister’s accusation of the Indian government’s involvement in the killing of a Sikh leader in Canada triggering diplomatic tension as well as the U.S. Government’s indictment of an Indian national after thwarting an alleged plot by Indian Government agents of a Sikh on U.S. territory. Crovitz discussed ACLED’s release of the second-ever conflict index assessing global levels of political violence.
Cybercrime was on the rise. Zagaris discussed the waiver by Bankman-Fried of extradition from the Bahamas to the U.S. as well as the U.S., Europol, and 12 countries taking down the hive ransomware infrastructure as well as the U.S. and Europol takedown of a darknet cryptocurrency mixer. Zagaris covered the unsealing of an indictment against a Bulgarian woman extradited to the U.S. for her role in a crypto pyramid scheme. Zagaris covered the CFTC administrative suit against Binance as well as the guilty pleas by Binance and its CEO as well as the disruption by the U.S. Justice Department and foreign governments of Russian malware. Zagaris and Sanford discussed the imposition by the Irish Data Protection Commission of a U.S. $1.3 billion fine on Meta for GDPR violations. Zagaris discussed INTERPOL’s Africa Cyber Surge II, which resulted in 14 arrests and disrupted thousands of illicit cyber networks. Zagaris covered the U.S. indictment of the administrator of ‘bulletproof’ web hosting domain charged with facilitating Netwalker ransomware as well as the U.S. and allies’ disruption of Qakbot malware.
Concerning Child Sexual Exploitation, Zagaris discussed the arrest in Malaysia of a Bangladeshi national indicted in the U.S. for sextortion (operating a child exploitation enterprise).
On the Recovery and Return of Stolen Cultural Property, Zagaris discussed the settlement between the Latchford estate and the U.S. Attorney for the S.D.N.Y. on the civil forfeiture action on Southeastern Asian antiquities. Telfer discussed the German bank returning a Kandinsky painting sold in1940 at auction back to Jewish heirs. DePrado covered Illinois museum repatriating statues to Kenya. Zagaris discussed the Manhattan D.A. seizing bronze antiquities from the Cleveland Museum on behalf of Turkey. Crovitz covered the seizure by Spain of Ukrainian artifacts after attempted trafficking to Spain and the U.S.
On International Environmental Enforcement and Illicit Financial Flows, Zagaris discussed a U.S. court in Amarillo sentencing a former Texas professor for wildlife trafficking. Plachta discussed the European Committee on Crime Problems’ actions on the environment. Zagaris discussed China’s amendment of its wildlife protection law. Mostaghimi discussed the U.S. formation of a working group to address illicit international timber trade. Nagle covered the catalytic converter theft fueling a thriving recycling black market. Zagaris discussed India’s increasing investigation of an alleged kingpin of red sandalwood smuggling. Crovitz discussed the U.S. DOJ’s and Fish and Wildlife Service’s indictment concerning enforcement of the international endangered species trafficking laws as well as South and Southeast Asian nations struggling to enforce an international anti-wildlife smuggling treaty.
With respect to Transnational Organized Crime (TOC), Zagaris wrote about the EU and U.S. exerting pressure on the Kinahan cartel and the U.A.E. Mostaghimi discussed the designation by the U.S. Treasury of the Wagner Group as a TOC group.
On Money Laundering, Zagaris wrote several articles on the U.S. Corporate Transparency Act. Elisabeth Lees, a Cayman practitioner, discussed regulatory enforcement developments in the Cayman Islands resulting from FATF pressure. Zagaris covered FinCEN’s renewal and expansion of real estate Geographic Targeting Orders and FinCEN proposing a special rule under Sec. 311 for more transparency in virtual currency mixing. The FATF consultation on enhanced transparency with respect to trusts was covered by Zagaris. The Basel Institute highlighted the 12th Basel AML Index showing money laundering trends and concerns. Abdulsalam discussed Saudi Arabia’s initiating financial compliance and enforcement initiatives. Zagaris covered the FATF reporting on the misuse of citizenship and residency by investment.
There were multiple articles on Atrocity Crimes, especially in Ukraine, Plachta discussed the European Parliament resolution calling for the establishment of a tribunal on the crime of aggression against Ukraine. Zagaris wrote about the U.S. arresting and charging British and Russian businessmen for sanctions evasion concerning an oligarch’s yacht. Zagaris discussed the Swiss prosecution of bankers for assisting Putin’s strawman. Mostaghimi wrote about Swiss proceedings to confiscate assets linked to former Ukrainian President Yanukovych. Plachta discussed the finding by the UN Commission of a wide range of war crimes by Russian forces in Ukraine. Zagaris covered the arrest warrant the ICC issued for Russian President Vladimir Putin for the deportation of Ukrainian children. Plachta discussed the UN Human Rights Council’s failure to extend a mandate to investigate Ethiopia amid continuing atrocities. Plachta discussed the reaction of the UN and EU to the terrorist attack on Israel and Israeli military actions. Plachta discussed the ICJ’s order of provisional measures against Syria for torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment. Zagaris covered the U.S. indictment against 4 Russian soldiers for war crimes against a U.S. citizen.
With respect to International Narcotics Enforcement, Zagaris discussed the multiple prosecutions by the U.S. against the Sinaloa cartel. Zagaris discussed U.S. and Europol breaking up darknet trafficking of fentanyl and opioids. Zagaris discussed the U.S. indictments against China-based chemical manufacturing companies with respect to fentanyl trafficking. Zagaris covered the Europol task force dismantling a multinational cocaine organization.
Extradition saw many articles. Plachta discussed an EU Court of Justice decision, allowing the extradition of EU citizens to third countries to serve a sentence. Zagaris discussed the U.S. obtaining custody of a Lockerbie suspect through an apparent abduction in Libya. Mostaghimi covered the extradition case in Italy of the son of the Russian Governor to the U.S. Zagaris discussed an English High Court’s denial of the founder of Abraaj to stop his extradition to the U.S. for fraud. Zagaris covered the UAE denial of S. African extradition request of the Gupta brothers for state capture. Zagaris discussed Peru’s extradition of van der Sloot to the U.S. in an extortion and wire fraud case. Mostaghimi discussed the U.S. extradition of ex-Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo on corruption charges. Zagaris discussed the UK High Court’s denial of Assange’s latest effort to appeal against extradition to the U.S. as well as S. Africa extraditing former Mozambican Finance Minister to the U.S. in the tuna bond case. Zagaris covered Mexico’s extradition of El Chapo’s son to the U.S. as well as the decisions by Germany and Ireland to deny extradition to Britain and Scotland due to British prison conditions.
With respect to Illegal Firearms Trafficking, Zagaris covered the suit filed by parents of the Parkland mass shooting victim against the U.S. in the Inter-American Human Rights Commission with respect to international human rights violations as well as the OAS Permanent Council’s consideration of how to tackle the surge of gang and gun violence.
Concerning Interpol Accountability, Yuri Nemets discussed seeking asylum while on the INTERPOL wanted list: the expert witness perspective. Meg Hobbins and Ted R. Bromund discussed ICE’s issuance of INTERPOL Red Notices.
Concerning the International Criminal Court, Plachta discussed the Philippine government’s cutting contact with the ICC over the “war on drugs” investigation as well as the ICC Appeal Chamber authorizing the investigation on drug war killings in the Philippines. Maghsoodnia discussed the ICC’s addressing a new way to tackle war crimes with the DRC. Plachta also covered the ICC authorizes the Prosecutor to resume the investigation in the situation of Venezuela.
With respect to Jurisdiction, Immunities of International Organizations, and Diplomats, Ramirez discussed the court ruling that no diplomatic immunity exists for extradited Maduro associate Alex Saab Moran. Zagaris wrote several articles on Haiti transferring persons to the U.S. on charges of conspiring to kill former Haitian President Jovenel Moïse. Davis discussed the U.S. Supreme Court Halkbank case and whether sovereign owned enterprises are immune from prosecution.
Concerning Migration Enforcement, Mostaghimi discussed the commitment by the U.S., Panama, and Colombia to a 60-day campaign to stem migration through the Darien Gap.
With respect to international evidence gathering, Zagaris reviewed the new edition of Ristau’s International Judicial Assistance: A Practitioner’s Guide to International Civil and Commercial Litigation. Zagaris covered the release by Eurojust of a report on digital evidence gathering.
With respect to international enforcement cooperation, Zagaris discussed the U.S. and Cuba restarting law enforcement dialogue.
On sanctions enforcement, Zagaris covered the G7 statement on Ukraine, calling for widening sanctions and accountability mechanisms. Magliveras discussed the regulations of ‘autonomous sanctions’ in Canadian legislation. Zagaris discussed OFAC’s delisting a Kiwi from the Russian sanctions list after he sued OFAC as well as the French arrest of a sanctioned Russian oligarch. Zagaris wrote about a civil forfeiture action brought by the U.S. against the $300 million superyacht of a Russian oligarch as well as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights highlighting the harmful impact of unilateral sanctions. Zagaris covered Cyprus inviting foreign experts to help with Russian sanction evasion investigations.
With respect to economic integration and enforcement cooperation, Plachta wrote several articles on EU and Council of Europe developments, such as the CoE’s European Committee on Crime Problems 83rd plenary session and the EU’s introduction of the European Production and Preservation Orders for electronic evidence in criminal matters. Zagaris discussed the U.S.-EU Ministerial on Justice and Home Affairs making progress on Russia, counterterrorism, transnational organized crime, cybercrime, and migration.
Concerning the production and use of chemical weapons, Zagaris discussed the Conference of State Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention’s action on Syrian violations.