Red Notice  Law Journal

Red Notice Law Journal

Red Notices, International Extradition, and Perspective

INTERPOL and the tax man

Posted in INTERPOL's Tools and Practices, Uncategorized

A reader recently sent in the following questions:

Can you tell me would the IRS issue a diffusion notice in a civil tax audit involving offshore banking? Would Interpol even accept a diffusion notice on a non criminal case? And if so what does that mean to a person travelling?

The reader rightly questions whether INTERPOL would become involved in a civil matter, and it would not.  INTERPOL exists primarily for the purpose of assisting its member countries in bringing criminal subjects to justice, and its rules require a minimum sentence for a crime to qualify for circulation in INTERPOL’s databases.  INTERPOL does also circulate notices regarding individuals who are subjects of interest to criminal investigations; missing persons; and unidentified bodies, but all notices contain crime-related information.

However, if a case has both a civil element and a legitimate criminal element, INTERPOL may become involved in the matter.  For instance, if a tax audit reveals evidence of tax evasion or tax fraud, it would be reasonable to expect that criminal charges may follow.  In that case, a Red Notice may be issued for a person who is believed to have fled the jurisdiction.

Regarding the reader’s question about travel: if a Red Notice is issued due to a pending criminal case, then detention and extradition become possible.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

 

INTERPOL, refugees, and Red Notices

Posted in Collateral Effects of Red Notices, INTERPOL's Tools and Practices, Politically Based Red Notices

This May, INTERPOL announced its new policy on its treatment of Red Notice subjects with refugee status.  The policy is addressed in detail here by Fair Trials International.  Fair Trials and the Open Dialogue Foundation are among the organizations that have advocated for reform of INTERPOL’s policies regarding those individuals who have been granted refugee status, but who are also listed as wanted subjects in INTERPOL’s databases.

In May, INTERPOL had not yet publicized the manner in which its policy would be implemented.  Now, however, the organization has provided some level of detail as to how refugee cases will be processed.  For example, INTERPOL has provided the generally applicable guidelines indicating that the processing of Red Notices and diffusions against refugees will not be allowed if:

  • the status of refugee or asylum-seeker has been confirmed;
  • the notice or diffusion has been requested by the country where the individual fears prosecution;
  • the granting of the refugee status is not based on political grounds in relation to the requesting country.

INTERPOL advises that the objective of the new policy is

“to support member countries in preventing criminals from abusing refugee status, while providing adequate and effective safeguards to protect the rights of refugees, as guaranteed under the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and other applicable conventions.”

Naturally, it will take time to see how the policy is implemented in practice, and it may be anticipated that the policy takes on nuances over time. For now, however, the implementation of the policy and the fact that there are guidelines in place for its use are both favorable facts for refugees who have been immobilized based on their status as Red Notice subjects.

Also, many thanks to Fair Trials and Open Dialogue for their continued efforts toward achieving due process for criminally accused individuals.  INTERPOL is also to be commended for its willingness to study this important issue and to take action to make changes where needed.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

 

INTERPOL’s CCF and the significance of Ex-Ukrainian president Yanukovych no longer appearing on Interpol’s website

Posted in INTERPOL's Tools and Practices, Member Country Activity, Politically Based Red Notices, Red Notice Challenges

INTERPOL has removed the Red Notice in the name of Ex-Ukrainian president Victor Yanukovych from its website.    The removal of a name from INTERPOL’s online wanted pages is not indicative of a final decision, but it is significant.

In 2014, likely due to the public nature of the case, INTERPOL took the unusual step of publicizing the fact that it was reviewing the Ukrainian Red Notice request for Mr. Yanukovych.

Earlier this year, INTERPOL reportedly agreed to issue the Red Notice, based on charges of embezzling public funds. Mr. Yanukovych challenged the notice, and today it was announced that his name no longer appears on the online wanted list.  Mr. Yanukovych’s attorneys reportedly took the position that the Red Notice should be removed because the underlying criminal charges were part of a pattern of political persecution against him.

Mr. Yanukovych is no doubt encouraged by the report that Interpol suspended the Red Notice; removed the extract of the Red Notice showing Yanukovych as a “wanted person” from the Interpol website; and blocked access of Interpol member countries to Interpol data concerning him.  While a suspension is not a permanent removal, it is a good sign that the matter is being seriously considered by the CCF, and that it may be permanently deleted from INTERPOL’s files.

As always, comments and thoughts are welcomed.

 

INTERPOL’s CCF- How long will the Commission take to respond?

Posted in INTERPOL's Tools and Practices, Member Country Activity, Red Notice Challenges

I recently received an inquiry from a reader who posed perhaps the most common question that arises from people who have submitted inquiries to INTERPOL’s CCF:

My mother-in-law has been a red notice subject, because her company in UAE could not repay a commercial loan and her partners escaped. So, she is the only one bank is going after to punish. She was and still is out of UAE, otherwise, she could be behind bar for god knows how long, for a loan.
Our local lawyer tried to communicate with the bank in UAE, but they were so sure about Interpol and rejected any communication. They keep asking for full amount + benefits and penalty costs at once. So, she made a request to CCF and we received a reply confirmation that the request is admissible. Now, 5 months have passed and we received nothing from CCF.

What do you think? Is there going to be a final decision and how long does it take to hear from CCF?

This reader has already submitted a request for some form of relief (it is not specified whether the request is an inquiry as to whether information exists in INTERPOL’s files, or for a removal of data from INTERPOL’s files) and has been advised that the form of the request is admissible.  The letter of admissibility is normally issued within 30 days of the CCF receiving the request.  The reader is now at the stage where s/he is awaiting a decision from INTERPOL.

While five months is a long time in the real world, it seems to be the blink of any eye in the realm of INTERPOL. I have seen inquiries take up to two years before a response is given, and others have been issued as quickly as two months from the date of receipt. Given the fact that, under the leadership of Chairperson Nina Vajić, the CCF has increased its yearly sessions from 3 to 4, we might hope for more consistently rapid response times going forward.  That change was only implemented this year, however, so it is still too early to know its full effect.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

 

INTERPOL suspends FIFA donation funds, but what happens to the money now, and what happens to INTERPOL?

Posted in Collateral Effects of Red Notices, INTERPOL's Tools and Practices, Member Country Activity, Uncategorized

INTERPOL is shocked, shocked, to find that FIFA might be connected to corrupt activity.

Last week, I addressed INTERPOL’s listing of several individuals who are wanted for prosecution by the United States for FIFA-related financial crimes.  That post is here.  In light of those listings, RNLJ requested INTERPOL’s verification of reports that INTERPOL was reviewing its existing financial arrangement with FIFA, wherein FIFA had pledged 20 million euros to the organization over a period of years to aid in the fight against match-fixing.

In fact, INTERPOL responded to our request with a confirmation that the organization had not only reviewed its agreement with FIFA, but had come to a decision to suspend the use of funds provided under the agreement until further notice.  INTERPOL also made a public statement regarding the decision:

INTERPOL is announcing the suspension of its agreement with FIFA following investigations into corruption against football’s governing body.

Under a May 2011 agreement, INTERPOL received a donation from FIFA worth EUR 20 million to create a 10-year Integrity in Sport programme.

The decision by INTERPOL Secretatry General Jürgen Stock will see the world police body freeze the use of financial contributions from FIFA.

INTERPOL’s Executive Committee endorsed the decision at its three-day (10 -12 June) meeting at the General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, France.

The agreement with FIFA includes a clause which states that ‘the Funding Party declares notably that its activities are compatible with the principles, aims and activities of INTERPOL’.

“In light of the current context surrounding FIFA, while INTERPOL is still committed to developing our Integrity in Sport programme, I have decided to suspend the agreement,” said Secretary General Stock.

“All external partners, whether public or private, must share the fundamental values and principles of the Organization, as well as those of the wider law enforcement community,” added Mr Stock.

INTERPOL’s Integrity in Sport programme has helped international efforts across its 190 member countries to prevent the manipulation of sporting events and illegal gambling by criminal groups. Their ongoing criminal activities require a global response.

INTERPOL continues to closely monitor developments involving FIFA.

 Note that INTERPOL did not say that it is returning any of the funds, rather the agreement has been suspended.  With time, the organization may decide to keep any funds that it has received thus far from FIFA, or the Executive Committee may feel compelled to return the funds depending on what other information comes to light.

Interestingly enough, INTERPOL may find itself in the same position of many Red Notice subjects who have done business with alleged criminals:  it has received funds in furtherance of a particular initiative, and those funds are later found to have a possible connection with illegal activity.  A private individual may find himself subject to the “knew or should have known” standard when it comes to prosecution for financial crimes.  Based on the developments related to the U.S.-based prosecution and the information that is now publicly available, INTERPOL may find itself answering questions about whether it knew or should have known that the anti-corruption funds it received from FIFA may have been related to illegal activity.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

FIFA and INTERPOL, together again- U.S. charges FIFA officials and obtains Red Notices against them

Posted in INTERPOL's Tools and Practices, Member Country Activity, Red Notice Challenges

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know that FIFA has been dealing with a scandal lately: the U.S. government has charged multiple individuals with ties to FIFA with expansive criminal violations, and INTERPOL has issued Red Notices for six of those people.

FIFA and INTERPOL have had extensive dealings with one another before, but in a very different manner. Interestingly enough, in 2011, FIFA made a 20 million euro donation to INTERPOL to help combat match-fixing.  We discussed the goals of the donation here.

Now, however, the international focus has shifted from those collaborative anti-corruption efforts to the allegations of corrupt activities by multiple FIFA officials and businessmen connected to FIFA.  In the indictment, the U.S. government alleges that the crimes were committed in the context of banking, commercial and investment activity that took place in both the U.S. and abroad.  Federal prosecutors charged the defendants with numerous counts of racketeering, wire fraud, money laundering, unlawful procurement of naturalization, and obstruction of justice.  Those charges provide the grounds for the Red Notices.

INTERPOL issued a statement regarding the Red Notices, and named each of the Red Notice subjects:

The Red Notices have been issued for;

Jack Warner, Trinidad & Tobago national, former FIFA vice president and executive committee member, CONCACAF president, CFU president and Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) special adviser.

Nicolás Leoz, Paraguayan national, former FIFA executive committee member and CONMEBOL president.

Alejandro Burzaco, Argentine national, controlling principal of Torneos y Competencias S.A., a sports marketing business based in Argentina, and its affiliates.

Hugo Jinkis and Mariano Jinkis, Argentine nationals, controlling principals of Full Play Group S.A., a sports marketing business based in Argentina, and its affiliates.

José Margulies (also known as José Lazaro), Brazilian national, controlling principal of Valente Corp. and Somerton Ltd., broadcasting businesses.

 The Red Notice subjects’ responses have varied from silence by most of the subjects to Jack Warner’s alleged threats to reveal presumably inculpatory information against others.

Should Mr. Warner and the other Red Notice subjects decide to fight their Red Notices, they face an uphill battle.  Any Red Notice challenge is difficult, and those originating from the United States, like other relatively non-corrupt countries, will likely provide fewer grounds for removal of the Red Notice than more corrupt countries that have records of rampant due process and human rights violations.

In terms of INTERPOL’s relationship with FIFA, it has been reported that INTERPOL is reviewing its financial arrangement with the organization; Red Notice Law Journal has requested verification of this report and will provide updates as they become available.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

How INTERPOL contributed to the confusion about its role in the abduction of a Mexican minor to the United States

Posted in INTERPOL's Tools and Practices, Member Country Activity

This week, Mexican and U.S. officials participated in the “return” of a 14-year-old girl to her “mother” in the United States.  Except that the woman claiming to be the mother is not her mother, and the girl had never lived with the woman at all.

Rafael Romo of CNN reports that the case unfolded as follows:

According to a statement from the Mexican Foreign Ministry, the woman had recently traveled to Guanajuato and seen her daughter there.

“Derived on this information … and in compliance with international law … the judge in charge of the case asked Interpol to intervene to make the girl appear at a hearing in which the court would confirm her identity,” the statement said.

But what happened next puzzled both Alondra’s family and Mexican public opinion: The teenager was sent to the United States before her identify was positively confirmed.

Once in Houston, and with questions about her identity being raised by the girl’s biological parents, the Mexican Consulate in that city ordered DNA testing. The results confirmed that Alondra is not the daughter of the Houston woman.

Not surprisingly, the minor’s parents have said they are “taking action on the matter.”  This might concern INTERPOL.

Because of the use of the word, “Interpol,” by the Mexican Foreign Ministry, it appears to all the world that INTERPOL sent agents out to pick up the young lady.  Of course, this did not happen.  INTERPOL is a data-sharing agency based in Lyon, France.  Its member countries each have a liaison office within their own territory, and that liaison office is usually a law enforcement entity.  [INTERPOL clarified on April 23rd that it played no role in the matter when it tweeted:   “INTERPOLHQ not involved in #Alondra case” (@INTERPOL_HQ).]  INTERPOL takes no action to effect arrests, detain people, or aid in their extradition or transport; that is done by domestic law enforcement officers.

INTERPOL certainly contributes to this confusion by allowing its member countries to refer to their own liaison offices as if they are in fact INTERPOL offices.  For example, the United States’ NCB office refers to itself as “INTERPOL Washington;” Albania’s NCB uses the moniker, “INTERPOL Tirana;”  Canada lists its NCB as, “INTERPOL Ottowa,” and the list goes on and on.  The fact that INTERPOL allows the use of its name by liaison offices is interesting, given the organization’s efforts to create bright lines between itself and member country NCB activity in the revised Rules on the Processing of Data in 2012.

So when we see news articles reporting that INTERPOL took some particular action that was in fact carried out by domestic authorities, no one should be surprised, least of all INTERPOL.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

 

INTERPOL’s looking for murderers, drug traffickers, and … Justin Bieber?

Posted in INTERPOL's Tools and Practices, Member Country Activity

INTERPOL states as its vision that it is “connecting police for a safer world.” So naturally, when I read that Argentina had requested a Red Notice for Justin Bieber, I initially had trouble envisioning how the world might be safer if Mr. Bieber were in custody in Argentina.

But then I thought, is it possible? Could the world benefit from INTERPOL’s participation in Argentina’s case against Mr. Bieber?

Argentina wants him to return to face charges for instructing his bodyguard to forcibly take a photographer’s camera and cell phone outside of a nightclub.  If the allegation proves to be true, then Mr. Bieber would have participated in a felony charge of robbery by force, which is a proper basis for a Red Notice.

And of course, he has pled guilty to  careless driving and resisting arrest  in Miami, accepted responsibility for egging a neighbor’s house in L.A..  He has also been accused of various other bad acts from assault to mile-high smoking of weed.

But still.  Justin Bieber wanted by INTERPOL? I took an informal survey within my local legal community, and here are some of the opinions on the matter that resulted:

“Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! That’s hilarious.”

“Good.  I hope he goes back to Canada.  He’s annoying everyone here.”

“I can’t stand him.  I don’t like his hair.”

[Eye roll; no words.]

“INTERPOL?  Why would they care about the Biebs?”

“Maybe it will teach him a lesson.”

“What- he left his monkey unattended somewhere? Please.”

Clearly, the people in my immediate surroundings are not big Beliebers, but neither do they take his criminal capacity very seriously.  And while INTERPOL does not govern its actions based on public opinion, one cannot help but think that, if INTERPOL did become involved in this case, people will naturally make comparisons between Justin Beiber’s case and the cases of other individuals wanted by INTERPOL.  These suspects are often charged with the most serious charges imaginable: murder, kidnapping, armed drug trafficking, war crimes, and the like- not a guy who allegedly took a cell phone and a camera.

If INTERPOL accepts Argentina’s request to include him on its list of wanted individuals, I’m not sure the public at large will feel safer.  I am sure, though, that I’ll watch the  SNL skit that pokes fun at both INTERPOL and Justin Bieber.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

INTERPOL Red Notices – do they ever expire?

Posted in INTERPOL's Tools and Practices, Red Notice Challenges

A reader recently sent in the following question:

I wanted to know how long is a red alert in effect? I mean, when does it expires?
I heard it was 6 months, but I haven’t found the legal basis.
Can you help me please?

This question arises with some frequency, and with reason.  INTERPOL’s member countries circulate Red Notices for people who are wanted either to stand trial or to serve a sentence.  People who are the subjects of Red Notices naturally want to know when it is safe to travel without risking detention or extradition due to an old Red Notice.

Red Notices typically expire after five years.  However, they are subject to renewal if the INTERPOL member country that originally made the request advises INTERPOL that the notice should remain outstanding.  If a subject has not been apprehended after five years from the time the notice was originally issued, she should not assume that the notice no longer exists; it very may well be in effect.

In fact, some notices that should have been cancelled (due to the charges having been dropped, or the sentence having been served already, etc.) still remain in effect months or years later because the requesting member country fails to advise INTERPOL that the notice should be removed.

So the whole answer is that a Red Notice should be removed when its purpose has been served or no longer exists, or after five years, or longer if it’s renewed.

As always, comments and thoughts are welcomed.

 

 

INTERPOL’s Red Notices for Iranian terror suspects and the connection to the case of Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman

Posted in Collateral Effects of Red Notices, INTERPOL's Tools and Practices, Member Country Activity, Red Notice Challenges, Uncategorized

A reader recently sent in an inquiry about the case of Argentina’s scandal involving the death of prosecutor Alberto Nisman, who was shot just one day prior to his scheduled appearance at Argentina’s Congress.  As reported here, Mr. Nisman had filed a criminal complaint that accused Argentine President Cristina Kirchner, Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman and others of conspiring to cover up a probe into Iran’s alleged involvement in the attack on a Jewish community center here that killed 85 people, the worst attack targeting Jews since World War II.

INTERPOL issued Red Notices for several individuals in connection with the attack, as was requested by Argentina’s National Central Bureau.  INTERPOL later issued a statement regarding its efforts to facilitate talks between the two countries to resolve the growing dispute surrounding the notices.

The reader’s inquiry focuses on the agreement that Argentina and Iran later reached:

 Dear Ms. Estlund,

I would very much appreciate your comments on the situation that arose in connection with the red notices requested by Argentina over Iranian nationals under investigation for bombing a Community center in Buenos Aires.

Several years after the red notices were accepted by Interpol, both countries signed a Memorandum of understanding (details here: http://www.viviendoutopias.com/wp-content/2013/03/anexo_II.pdf).

Recently, a prosecutor (who later appeared dead in yet to be determined circumstances) denounced that the Memorandum was actually a plot to exonerate the Iranian nationals through the lifting of the red notices.

The truth is the red notices were never lifted and Argentina never requested it, as Interpol itself declared.

Nonetheless, I read a piece in the news claiming that the communication to Interpol stated in item 7 of the Memorandum can be construed as a basis to allow Iran to request the red notices to be lifted (or suspended or softened in any way), even when no express instructions were given by Argentina.

What’s your opinion on this? Could the communication included in item 7 of the Memorandum have reasonably been intended to allow Iran to attempt to lift the red notices?

The information in item 7 states:

“This agreement, upon its signature, will be jointly sent by both ministers to the Secretary General of Interpol as a fullfillment of Interpol requirements regarding this case.”

Even without an agreement, Iranian officials were free to seek the removal of any Red Notice directly through INTERPOL. Whether INTERPOL agreed to remove the notices or not would depend upon INTERPOL’s view of the case, specifically whether the Red Notices were requested in violation of any of INTERPOL’s governing rules or texts.  Such a direct approach would not at all guarantee the removal of the notices.

The agreement, however, appears to have been directed more toward the two countries’ efforts to resolve the matter in a fashion that awarded each party something of value: Iran presumably wanted the Red Notices lifted, and Argentina wanted something from Iran.  Multiple media outlets have reported that Mr. Nisman said President Kirchner was working behind the scenes to protect the Iranians in return for oil, at a time when the South American country was in the midst of an energy crisis.

In the end, INTERPOL seems to have maintained its position of neutrality, as its constitution mandates.  The question of a resolution to the issues between Argentina and Iran appears to have been put off, at least in the short term, because of the Argentinan public’s outrage about the Kirchner administration’s handling of this case.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.