In the last post, I addressed the issue of INTERPOL’s involvement in financial disputes arising from debts owed by individuals to financial institutions in the UAE. Today, the focus expands to the broader question of how some member countries abuse INTERPOL’s tools, specifically Red Notices, when they seek to resolve private disputes.

INTERPOL is prohibited from becoming involved in most private business disputes.  Despite this prohibition, member countries continue to successfully submit Red Notice requests in two situations, neither of which is appropriate for INTERPOL’s involvement:

  1. The member country submits a Red Notice request for a person who has defaulted on a loan issued by a financial institution.  In these cases, the financial institution has frequently made debt collection efforts prior to launching a criminal complaint.  The criminal charges are often filed even though a critical element- intent – is absent from the facts of the case.
  2. The member country submits a Red Notice request for a person who has become involved in a business dispute, such as a contractual disagreement.  The complaining party has successfully convinced (or bribed, or intimidated) local law enforcement officials to criminalize the matter, although it is civil in nature.

Since INTERPOL’s channels now allow for member countries to automatically obtain Red Notices without prior review by a human being, these prohibited notices are very frequently uploaded and circulated without real oversight.  INTERPOL does perform spot checks and will check the propriety of a notice upon complaint, but the opportunity for abuse remains real.  To decrease the amount of improper Red Notices, it would help if INTERPOL flagged certain types of Red Notice requests for immediate review, prior to circulation among other member countries.  Some of the “red flag criteria” might be:

  • Requests where the crime alleged is financial in nature, such as fraud and misuse of funds
  • Requests where the victim is listed as being a financial institution or a business entity
  • Requests from member countries with a history of seeking INTERPOL’s assistance for private disputes
  • Requests from member countries known for unusually high levels of police corruption

Of course, none of these criteria alone, or even together, necessarily dictate that a Red Notice request is invalid.  In my experience, however, all or most of these criteria are present when a Red Notice request has been made improperly based upon a private dispute.  

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.