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Clifford Chance

Clifford Chance
Briefings

Briefings

U.S. Arrests of Foreign Nationals for Acts Committed Overseas Warrant Vigilance

8 September 2016

Recently publicized arrests of unsuspecting non-U.S. citizens for fraud, market manipulation and corruption-related offenses allegedly committed outside the United States have reignited interest in the extraterritorial reach of U.S. criminal statutes, as well as the procedures for secret charging instruments and surprise arrests at borders or overseas. The global nature of telecommunications and the Internet, along with ubiquitous reliance on the U.S. financial system, can provide a basis for geographically expansive United States criminal jurisdiction. This, coupled with U.S. prosecutors' use of sealed indictments, stayed statutes of limitations and arrest requests to border and overseas authorities, suggests that non-U.S. citizens and residents engaged in international business should be aware of the potentially applicable prohibitions of U.S. criminal law. They should stay alert to current prosecutorial priorities as well as to the existence of investigations, which can relate to long-past conduct. While grand jury investigations in the United States are confidential, and indictments are typically returned under seal, counsel for individuals who may be the subject of or otherwise involved in an investigation can often gain insight into the focus and progress of the investigation through direct inquiry with the appropriate authorities.

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