Hurdling the sovereign wall. How governments can recover the proceeds of crimes that cross national boundaries

Author:Stefan Cassella
Position:Asset Forfeiture Law, LLC. Laurel, Maryland, USA
Pages:5-13
SUMMARY

Purpose The globalization of crime has made it possible for international money launderers, kleptocrats and fraudsters to commit crimes in one jurisdiction while remaining safe in another and hiding their assets in a third. At the same time, law enforcement officials remain constrained by the rules of national sovereignty that inhibit their ability to recover assets located beyond the... (see full summary)

 
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Hurdling the sovereign wall
How governments can recover the proceeds of
crimes that cross national boundaries
Stefan Cassella
Asset Forfeiture Law, LLC. Laurel, Maryland, USA
Abstract
Purpose The globalization of crime has made it possible for internationalmoney launderers, kleptocrats
and fraudsters to commitcrimes in one jurisdiction while remaining safe in another and hiding theirassets in
a third. At the same time, law enforcement ofcials remainconstrained by the rules of national sovereignty
that inhibit their ability to recover assets located beyond the territorial jurisdiction of their courts. Three
recent cases, however, illustrate that governments have begun to nd ways to hurdle the walls that have
traditionally made the recoveryof assets in other countries so difcult. This paper aims to sketch the facts of
those cases, the legal issues presented and the ways in which the obstacles presented by the walls of
sovereigntywere overcome.
Design/methodology/approach This paper is thestudy of three recent cases.
Findings The cases illustratehow obstacles presented by national sovereignty have beenovercome.
Originality/value The cases willserve as a guide to future international cooperation.
Keywords Civil forfeiture, National sovereignty, Kleptocracy
Paper type Case study
Introduction
The globalization of crime has made it possible for international money launderers,
kleptocrats, and fraudsters to commit crimes in one jurisdiction while remaining safely in
another and hiding their assets in a third. At the same time, law enforcementofcials remain
constrained by the rules of national sovereignty that inhibit their ability to recover assets
located beyond theterritorial jurisdiction of their courts.
Three recent cases, however, illustrate that governments have begun to nd ways to
hurdle the walls that have traditionally made the recovery of assets in other countries so
difcult.
This article sketches the facts of thosecases, the legal issues presented, and the ways in
which the obstacles presentedby the walls of sovereignty were overcome.
A little background
It is not hard for a person in one countryto commit a crime that impacts victims in another.
A corrupt contractor in Afghanistan can steal money from a US aid program; a computer
wizard in New Zealand can use the internetto steal intellectual property from businesses in
the USA. In addition, it is not hard for a person in another country to commit a crime in
violation of his own national law and launder the money somewhereelse. A corrupt African
dictator can steal billions of dollars from his own Treasury, launder it through nancial
institutions in theUS and hide it in investment accounts in another jurisdiction.
Traditionally, governmentshave been hard-pressed to deal with these situations. Evenif
the principles of extraterritorial jurisdiction permit the criminal prosecution in one country
Proceeds of
crimes
5
Journalof Money Laundering
Control
Vol.22 No. 1, 2019
pp. 5-13
© Emerald Publishing Limited
1368-5201
DOI 10.1108/JMLC-09-2017-0046
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
www.emeraldinsight.com/1368-5201.htm

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