Friday, June 15, 2007

Revenge of the NatWest 3?

It'll be darkly funny if the US Department of Justice does decide to indict and then seek to extradite someone from the UK in connection with the alleged payments from BAE to Prince Bandar, because Tony Blair's eagerness to send UK citizens to the US for white collar prosecutions has already established all the relevant legal principles:

-- that the extradition can take place under anti-terror legislation even though the alleged crimes are financial in nature [NatWest 3, Ian Norris etc]

-- that US jurisdiction can arise from something as simple as a banking transaction in the US, even when most of the activity was abroad [NatWest 3: wire transfers and faxes crossed US territory]

-- that the US can keep redefining the indictment until it finds something that would also have been illegal in the UK when the activity took place, even though there was no explicit law outlawing the said practice at that time [Ian Norris case, where price fixing, not illegal in the UK when it allegedly took place, was redefined as "fraud"]

UPDATE 26 JUNE: It's official -- there will be a US Department of Justice probe of the BAE-Bandar deal under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Jurisdiction through the bank transfers.

FINAL UPDATE 23 JULY: Having mentioned Ian Norris, a note on the latest twist in the affair: the government is considering new extradition rules, but their implementation will be delayed a year to allow cases in the pipeline to proceed under the old regimen -- even though the NatWest 3 and Norris would not be extraditable under the new rules. Norris still has a chance to make his case before the House of Lords.

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