The U.S. government’s settlement with Hobby Lobby on July 5, 2017 is part of its broader effort to combat trafficking in looted antiquities from the war-torn Middle East and to reduce market demand for such objects by punishing participants in the black market. Having scored this high-profile settlement in an early test case, the U.S. government likely will try to build on this success with additional investigations and enforcement actions. Continue reading
On June 5, 2017, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous opinion in Honeycutt v. United States (No. 16-142), holding that a criminal defendant can be held liable to forfeit only crime proceeds the defendant personally obtained, and cannot be made jointly and severally liable for proceeds acquired by a co-conspirator. The decision upends decades of nearly uniform precedent from the federal courts of appeals,1 and will likely have wide-ranging effects on the government’s ability to obtain criminal forfeiture. While Honeycutt is a narcotics case, the procedures in the forfeiture statute in question apply to all criminal forfeitures, including criminal forfeiture in cases involving securities fraud, healthcare fraud, corruption, insider trading, economic sanctions, mail fraud and wire fraud. Continue reading
Let’s say you’re a powerful foreign leader who has accepted millions of dollars in bribe payments, a “Kleptocrat.” You’ve got a problem: where to stash the loot? The stacks are too big to stockpile in your piggy bank or sock drawer. You need to be more creative. Here is one solution: set up an off-shore company, open a bank account in a jurisdiction with strict bank secrecy laws, load the account with the bribe payments you received, and then buy premium real estate in the United States. Voila – clean money.
Not so fast. Continue reading