Not lost in the chaos of all things related to outgoing U.S. president Donald Trump is Iran’s recent renewed request for Mr. Trump’s arrest. As reported here, Iran is seeking the arrest and extradition of Mr. Trump in order to prosecute him for last year’s targeted killing of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

While it is almost unthinkable that a foreign actor could order the assassination of a U.S. military general on U.S. soil without swift repercussion, thus far Mr. Trump has avoided any consequence for the drone strike that he reportedly ordered. The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary, or arbitrary executions reportedly deemed the killing to be against international law.

Iran’s request for a Red Notice in Mr. Trump’s name, however, faced the expected hurdle that any Red Notice request for a sitting president would encounter: Article 3 of INTERPOL’s Constitution, which prohibits INTERPOL from becoming involved with any matter of a political nature.

National Public Radio reported that INTERPOL commented directly on this matter, and explained its refusal to issue the requested Red Notice on the grounds of Article 3:

 “it is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.”

Iran previously attempted to obtain a Red Notice for Mr. Trump and that request was denied, as well.  It remains to be seen whether another attempt is made once he leaves office.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

 

 

A primary concern for clients who seek to remove Red Notices from INTERPOL’s databases is what happens after they succeed in their efforts. There are many purposes for seeking the removal of a Red Notice, but a main focus for most clients is to be able to travel more easily and without the concern that they could be detained.

In my experience, it is rare for a person to be detained by authorities of INTERPOL’s member countries after a Red Notice has been removed. When INTERPOL removes a notice from its databases, it also advises its member countries’ National Central Bureaus to update their respective domestic databases. Member countries are obliged to maintain current databases in order to utilize INTERPOL’s tools. Most often, they do.

However, it has happened on occasion that a former Red Notice subject is stopped even after their Red Notice is removed.  When that has happened, my clients have presented to the authorities the CCF’s decision to remove the Red Notice, along with the letter that the CCF provides showing that their data does not exist in INTERPOL’s databases.  This has been sufficient to explain the situation to the authorities, who have then released the clients to continue with their travels.

Another step that we take in such situations is to contact the CCF and explain that the member country has failed to update its databases, and request a reminder directly from INTERPOL to the member country for the data to be updated domestically as well. While INTERPOL has no direct control over its member countries’ actions, it does have a working relationship with the NCBs and it has been supportive in our efforts to encourage countries to update their data.

It is critical that a former Red Notice subject travel with the CCF’s decision and status letter once they succeed in removing a Red Notice. There are other steps that can be taken to make travel plans go more smoothly, and I’ll address those in the next post.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

As is true for any person facing criminal charges, people who are wanted by INTERPOL are concerned about when and whether their cases will be heard and decided.

INTERPOL has announced that it will not be holding its annual meeting as scheduled this year. Originally, the General Assembly was to have been hosted by the United Arab Emirates. The annual meeting is an event wherein INTERPOL’s member countries vote on changes to rules, leadership, and review the events and progress of the last year. Those items will not be addressed until the meeting can be rescheduled.

However, this cancellation does not affect the work being done by the Commission on the Control of INTERPOL’s Files (“CCF”). The CCF has continued its work schedule as normal, and we have continued to receive decisions and updates on cases with no delays that might have been expected due to the pandemic. The CCF has made some adjustments, as we all have, that have resulted in a largely unchanged schedule of responses.

The CCF advises that its next meeting will take place in January of 2021. Red Notice subjects who submit their cases for review should expect the normal response timeline to apply.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

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.