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.