In the last post, we discussed the continued difficulties encountered by some people even after their Red Notices are removed from INTERPOL’s databases.

Particularly in cases where the underlying criminal charge is a financial crime, Red Notice subjects often find that INTERPOL is not the only organization that contains their personal data. Other organizations- with both domestic and international databases- collect data on individuals and then distribute that data to their customers.

Among the primary consumers of personal data based on financial activity are financial institutions and financial service providers.

Financial institutions and providers of financial services seek to avoid financially risky clients– those who may engage in activities that are illegal or financially questionable. Consequently, banks and financial service providers have come to rely on companies that provide personal data lists of people who are politically exposed, wanted for financial crimes, or listed by governmental agencies as prohibited business partners.

The companies that provide personal data lists, such as World-CheckLexisNexisRDC (Regulatory DataCorp), Bureau Van Dijk, and Dow Jones may obtain their data from media sources without independently checking the accuracy of the source’s reporting. For example,  I have had a client whose data was reported by such a company as having an open criminal case months after the criminal case was completely dropped by the authorities. This client’s data was listed and circulated to every company that subscribes to this service, and the data was incorrect and outdated.

The failure to maintain an accurate database could result in legal action against the publisher, as has happened multiple times in the case of World-Check.  Most of the publishers of the data have specific personnel assigned to correct inaccurate data. Once they are made aware of the inaccuracy, they will either remove or modify the information.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

 

 

Red Notices are designed to immobilize a person. Anyone who is the subject of an INTERPOL Red Notice cannot travel without risking detention. She often has difficulty maintaining business relationships because of the outstanding notice. When the notice is about a financial crime, the subject has the additional worry that her financial institution will sever ties with her based on its own concerns with anti-money laundering compliance laws.

When a Red Notice subject successfully applies for the removal of the Red Notice, INTERPOL does advise all of its member countries of that decision, and all member countries are requested to update their databases to reflect the change.

However, the removal of the Red Notice is sometimes not the end of the fight for many individuals. Too often, people who have proven to INTERPOL that their cases are either not truly criminal, or are politically motivated, or do not even contain a sufficient level of information to sustain a criminal charge, wind up on financial risk lists improperly, based on outdated or inaccurate information.

Financial risk lists are published by companies such as World-Check, LexisNexis, RDC (Regulatory DataCorp), Bureau Van Dijk, and Dow Jones for use by their customers who seek to minimize the risk of dealing with illegal funds or the people who conduct illegal financial activity. Unfortunately, when the publishers of financial risk lists rely on inaccurate or outdated information, they negatively affect the ability of legitimate individuals and companies to conduct business, to maintain employment, and to safeguard their reputations.

In the next post, we’ll address what people can do when they find themselves on the wrong side of an INTERPOL-related financial risk list.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

(Today’s post is courtesy of guest author and J.D. candidate Isabel Alcántara.)

 

INTERPOL’s Red Notice is not the only alert that INTERPOL’s member countries use in their efforts to locate an alleged criminal. In fact, INTERPOL issues some notices to locate people who have not been charged with a crime. INTERPOL member countries might request a Blue Notice, for example, in hopes of locating a witness to a crime, or people related to an alleged offender. RNLJ has addressed Blue Notices before, here.

A Blue Notice was recently requested by NCB New Delhi (India’s National Central Bureau ) against the promoter of Winsome Diamonds, a Mumbia-based company that manufactures diamonds for export. The promoter, Mr. Jatin Mehta, is sought in connection with a dispute regarding a loan default.

The sequence of events that led to the Blue Notice request is somewhat unusual due to the fact that the NCB New Delhi previously requested a Red Notice against Mr. Mehta in 2018. The complainant alleged that:

“[Winsome Diamonds] purchased gold from three bullion banks abroad—Bank of Nova Scotia, Standard Bank and Standard Chartered Bank—on the basis of guarantees from the Indian bank…and [supposedly] failed to make the payment for gold imported on the strength of the guarantees.”

Ultimately, INTERPOL refused to issue the Red Notice against Mr. Mehta.

Following INTERPOL’s decision to invalidate the Red Notice request, Indian authorities recently requested that a Blue Notice be circulated in Jatin Mehta’s name instead. INTERPOL’s denial of a Red Notice does not bar a member country from requesting a different type of notice in its place.

The Blue Notice could aid authorities in confirming Mr. Mehta’s location, but it does not contain a request or authorization for his arrest.

While this case appears to contain the element of a private, civil business dispute for failure to fulfill the terms of a contract, Indian authorities also believe that a criminal element exists in the case. Their utilization of a Blue Notice in furtherance of their investigation may allow authorities to track Mr. Mehta’s whereabouts, and it may ultimately lead to sufficient grounds for a Red Notice.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

From my own backyard comes an interesting case. Clients often inquire about the relationship between immigration proceedings and criminal court proceedings, and this case is an example of how things usually do not go.

A man charged with the crime of sexual assault was detained by United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials after having been arrested by local police. Instead of turning him back over to local authorities for prosecution, however, immigration officials deported him back to his native Guatemala without facing the criminal court charges.

The article, found here, does not specify how the accused was released from jail on the criminal charge, or why the immigration detention ended with a deportation instead of a transfer back to a Miami pre-trial detention center where the criminally accused are brought to address their charges. (When individuals with open criminal cases are deported, it may be because local prosecuting authorities fail to request the defendant be transferred to face the charges, or it may be because immigration authorities did not respond to a request to transfer the accused.)

In the case of Werner Orozco, however, once he was deported, Miami prosecutors sought the assistance of the United States’ National Central Bureau (“NCB”), which is the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. to re-capture him.  NCB Washington requested a Red Notice from INTERPOL, which then issued the notice and distributed it to all its member countries.

The Red Notice eventually worked as intended. Mr. Orozco was stopped while traveling abroad, went through extradition proceedings, and is now back in Miami to face the charges.

It is rare for a criminal defendant to be deported prior to facing such serious charges; prosecutors benefited from this defendant’s travel and subsequent apprehension.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

A recurring client question these days is whether INTERPOL is working during this pandemic. The answer is a resounding “yes.” We’ve noticed that the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files is responding to simple requests for access even more quickly than before. We are also noticing that INTERPOL’s member countries are still searching for Red Notice subjects and using INTERPOL’s tools in their extradition efforts.

A recent example concerns the coordinated efforts of Brazil and Argentina to capture Gonzalo Sanchez, a former Argentine Navy officer, in the coastal municipality of Angra dos Reis. Mr. Sanchez is alleged to have been a part of the notorious Task Group 3.3 charged with combating ‘subversives’, and is accused of participating in dozens of ‘forced disappearances’ and killings during Argentina’s 1976-1983 military regime. In 2009, an INTERPOL Red Notice was issued at Argentina’s request against Sanchez.

INTERPOL’s Fugitive Investigative Support unit had been following the case as part of Project BASIC – a coordinated effort to crack down on outstanding war criminals. Earlier this year, upon receiving information that Mr. Sanchez was likely to attend a family reunion in Brazil, local officers coordinated with Argentinian officials to locate and arrest him. INTERPOL reports that the pandemic made the search more difficult:

Complicating the surveillance effort, however, was the arrival of the global COVID-19 pandemic to Brazil’s shores. The pandemic meant street circulation was down, making the presence of police harder to disguise, and restrictions on public gatherings meant that Sanchez would not be attending religious gatherings any time soon.

On the day after Mother’s day in Brazil (10 May), the police task force received intelligence indicating that a core group of people close to Sanchez, including his seven-year-old son, were travelling up the coast to the “Taquari hinterland”. Bordering a vast mountainous nature reserve, the area was exposed with few houses, meaning a discreet police approach would be practically impossible. When the team arrived as close as they could without raising suspicion, they conferred with locals who indicated that Sanchez was hiding in a house on the outskirts of the village, closest to the nature reserve.

Police entered the house to find Gonzalo Sanchez with his family and close friends, confirming the thesis of a family reunion. None of those present offered any resistance and Sanchez was taken into custody.

INTERPOL’s report on the manhunt is here.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

In our final post in the series on the CCF’s data as reported in its annual report last year, today we’ll consider what happens to a case while it is under consideration by the CCF.

The Commission reported that, in 112 of the 346 admissible complaints,

…access to data recorded in INTERPOL’s files concerning the applicants was blocked as a precautionary measure, pending the finalization of the cases, from the moment serious doubts arose over their compliance with INTERPOL’s rules…

What this means is that the data of the Red Notice subject is provisionally not available in INTERPOL’s databases because, upon initial review, the Commission was concerned that the case did not meet its criteria and may later be removed.

In practical terms, based on my experience, this provisional blocking does not aid an applicant in terms of mobility because s/he is often not told of the blocking until the case is finished, so travel is not a risk most subjects are willing to take. However, the blocking is nonetheless significant for other reasons: financial institutions take Red Notices into consideration when determining whether to do business with individuals; immigration authorities consider Red Notices in deciding whether to approve an immigration benefit; and potential employers may decide not to hire someone with a published Red Notice.

A request to block a Red Notice pending its ultimate determination makes sense, and if the CCF has compliance concerns from the outset, it is likely to implement the procedure as a precautionary measure.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

Today’s post is a continuation of our series on INTERPOL’s CCF, its annual reports, and what the information in those reports might mean for a Red Notice subject seeking to have a Red Notice removed.

In the CCF most recent annual report, the Commission conveyed its observations about a variety of subjects, including a growing workload, challenges within the organization, and the actions of its member countries’ National Central Bureaus (“NCBs”).

On the topic of NCBs, the report, found here, confirms that one of the reasons that a Red Notice subject’s data may be removed from INTERPOL’s databases has to do with the NCBs. More often than we might imagine, the NCB of a member country simply fails to respond, or responds insufficiently, to the CCF’s inquiries about a particular Red Notice removal request. As a result, in 40 cases that were considered by the CCF during the annual reporting period,

… the NCB(s) at the source of the data challenged did not provide appropriate answers to the questions raised by the CCF, and therefore the data were deleted from INTERPOL’s files…..

In still other cases, it appears that the NCB or INTERPOL’s General Secretariat recognized that there was a problem with the case, or that the requesting country was no longer interested in maintaining the Red Notice:

in 69 other cases, either the General Secretariat or the NCB at the source of the challenged data decided to delete the data from INTERPOL’s files before the Commission had taken a decision.

The report indicates that, while Red Notices are sometimes removed based on the evidence presented by the applicant, they are also sometimes removed based on the requesting country’s failure to respond properly to the CCF’s inquiries. This is another example of the “X factor” at work: sometimes a case is won because of an unpredictable variable, and that variable becomes possible only when a removal effort is made.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

In our continued series on reviewing the CCF’s most recent annual report, found here, today’s post addresses the CCF’s workload, and how that might impact a request for a Red Notice removal.

The CCF reported that in 2018, it reviewed the 1,422 finalized cases, including 536 complaints, 741 access requests, 97 applications for revision, and 48 other requests.

The cases examined by the CCF included applicants who:

  • wanted to know if their data was in INTERPOL’s files; or
  • asked INTERPOL to re-consider a previous decision; or
  • were requesting removal of their Red Notices or other notices or diffusions; or
  • who had other concerns

This means that, aside from requests for removal of data from its databases – the 536 complaints- the CCF is also responding to requests by people simply asking to know if their names are present in INTERPOL’s files, as well as people who are seeking relief after having their requests previously denied. The CCF also receives “other concerns;” these might be requests for policy changes, or the provision of information regarding specific National Central Bureau practices.

While the removal requests will occupy the majority of the Commission members’ time during session meetings, the regular workload of the Commission includes all of the other requests, in addition to preparing the removal request cases for review.

In the coming posts, we’ll look at the number of cases in which the CCF grants relief, denies relief, and why it makes those decisions.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

Today’s post is a continuation in the discussion of the CCF’s most recent annual report, and how the information contained in it might affect Red Notice subjects.

The CCF reported that, in 2018, it completed the processing of 1,422 cases, either because it reached a final conclusion in the cases, or because the requests never became admissible.

Admissibility is a threshold that must be crossed in order for the CCF to examine a case. While it may seem simple, applicants often fail the admissibility standards. Here’s how that might happen:

    • The applicant failed to submitted the proper documentation about himself/herself
    • Someone attempted to work on behalf of the applicant, but was not authorized to do so
    • Someone was authorized to work for the applicant, but did not submit proper paperwork to prove that authorization
    • The applicant’s identification document was out of date
    • The applicant did not clearly state the purpose of the communication

The CCF has clear and strict guidelines about whether and how it will interact with people seeking to correct, remove, or view information in INTERPOL’s databases. Those guidelines are found in INTERPOL’s website, here. The first step to viewing or removing one’s datat in INTERPOL’s website is to submit the inquiry in accordance with INTERPOL’s rules.

In the next post, we’ll continue the examination of the CCF’s annual report.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

In the current series of posts, I’ll examine the CCF’s most recent annual report, and what that report means for Red Notice subjects who are applying to have their notices removed or corrected.

The CCF issues its annual reports for the previous years at INTERPOL’s annual assembly. The most current report available is the one issued for 2018 (the 2019 report should be published in a few months). The report, found here, addresses everything from trends in member country activity to challenges the CCF faces within INTERPOL’s respective bodies to the CCF’s decision history.

Today, let’s consider the CCF’s data on its decisions from 2018.  My comments are in italics after each fact reported by the CCF:

    •  In 2018, the CCF completed the processing of 1,422 cases, either because it reached a final
      conclusion, or because the requests never became admissible.

      • In 1,422 cases in 2018, the CCF examined a case because the applicant submitted the proper documentation, or it did not admit the case to be considered because the applicant failed to submit the proper documentation. These are both new cases and cases from before 2018.
    • The 1,422 finalized cases included 536 complaints, 741 access requests, 97 applications for
      revision, and 48 other requests.

      • The cases examined by the CCF included applicants who wanted to know if their data was in INTERPOL’s files; or who asked INTERPOL to re-consider a previous decision; or who were requesting removal of their Red Notices or other notices or diffusions; or who had other concerns.
    • Among the 536 complaints processed in 2018, 346 concerned admissible requests from
      applicants who were the subjects of data recorded in INTERPOL’s files.

      • The CCF reviewed the cases of 346 people who were seeking removal of their information from INTERPOL’s files. Those people may have had Red Notices or other notices or diffusions.
    • Among the admissible requests, 70 concerned cases for which the CCF established that the
      data challenged met the required legal conditions for their retention in INTERPOL’s files, and
      were therefore considered compliant.

      • The CCF denied the requests in 70 cases where applicants were seeking removal of their data from INTERPOL’s files.
    • In 167 of the 346 admissible complaints, the Commission established that the challenged data did not meet legal requirements and should therefore be deleted from INTERPOL’s files as they did not comply with INTERPOL’s rules.
      • The CCF granted the requests in 167 cases where applicants were seeking removal of their data from INTERPOL’s files.
    • For 40 of these admissible complaints, the NCB(s) at the source of the data challenged did not provide appropriate answers to the questions raised by the CCF, and therefore the data were deleted from INTERPOL’s files; in 69 other cases, either the General Secretariat or the NCB at the source of the challenged data decided to delete the data from INTERPOL’s files before the Commission had taken a decision.
      • The NCBs of the countries that requested Red Notices, other notices or diffusions failed to respond or to respond completely to the CCF’s request for information that would have allowed it to keep the data in place in 40 of the admissible cases, so the CCF removed the data.
      • In 69 cases, the CCF did not have to consider the matter fully because the NCB deleted it on its own, or the General Secretariat decided prior to the CCF’s consideration of the case that the case should not be contained in INTERPOL’s files.

In the next several posts, we’ll break down each of the above points and analyze what they mean for current applicants.

As always, comments and questions are welcomed.