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Aaron Brecher is a litigator at Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe in Seattle. He focuses his practice on white collar, investigations, securities litigation, and compliance. He’s passionate about helping individuals and companies through some of their most difficult and sensitive challenges: investigations that could lead to government enforcement actions and resulting litigation. The views here are his own.

Back on May 9, I suggested that a future post on whether the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee against self-incrimination applies to non-citizens abroad was forthcoming.  Though I’ve been a bit distracted by trial the last few weeks, I have not forgotten that commitment.

As a general matter, foreign nationals outside the United States are not entitled to constitutional protections, including due process protections. This limitation might extend to non-citizens interrogated abroad by U.S. law enforcement, or non-citizens without status in the United States giving interviews to U.S. consular officials in an effort to obtain a visa. But there’s a good case for arguing that the right against self-incrimination embedded within the Fifth Amendment’s text would preclude the use of any incriminating statements given without procedural warnings in a subsequent criminal prosecution. Such an argument would not depend on an extraterritorial application of the Fifth Amendment, but rather a domestic one.


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A few weeks ago, Justin flagged an Oregon case alleging money laundering through the Black Market Peso Exchange, one of the most successful and efficient laundering schemes in the world.  The Black Market Peso Exchange is a trade-based money laundering technique commonly used by narcotics traffickers based in Colombia and Mexico. The central feature is the use of a money trader to ensure that the revenue from drug sales in the U.S. doesn’t actually cross any borders. Instead, those dollars are used to purchase any number of legitimate commodities from unsuspecting businesses on behalf of legitimate South American businesspersons whose legitimate imports are used to obtain pesos for the drug cartels.

This system involves several key advantages for the trafficker:

  • Avoiding the risk of having large quantities of cash detected at international borders
  • Avoiding the type of large cash deposits that trigger reporting requirements for financial institutions in many jurisdictions
  • Achieving quick access to pesos


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Last week, I teased the continuation of a series of posts about the Fifth Amendment.  That’s still coming, but I had to return to another common theme first.  My preview came at the end of a post about both the Fifth Amendment and parallel proceedings, which I’d also written about before. The Inception-ing of the blog continues with yet another brief comment on parallel proceedings, this time inspired by a news item that Justin flagged in last week’s roundup: Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein gave a speech before the New York City Bar Association’s annual white collar crime conference.  The whole speech is worth watching or reading, but the highlight of the address was DAG Rosenstein’s announcement of “a new Department policy that encourages coordination among Department components and other enforcement agencies when imposing multiple penalties for the same conduct.”

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News of the last few weeks has prompted me to return to two issues I’ve discussed here before: parallel proceedings and the Fifth Amendment. This time around, the Fifth Amendment issue is not double jeopardy, but instead the constitutional protection against compulsory self-incrimination.

Remember parallel proceedings? By that I mean the government conducting criminal and civil investigations of the same or similar conduct, and bringing related criminal, civil, or administrative enforcement proceedings around the same time. This creates all kinds of problems for defendants, including the difficulty and expense of fending off legal challenges on several fronts and the care needed to ensure that steps taken responding to one enforcement action don’t bite you in the other.

Among the most important dangers are those stemming from offering testimony in a civil or administrative proceeding. You see, “pleading the Fifth” and refusing to answer questions that might incriminate you doesn’t work the same way in civil and administrative settings that it does in the criminal context.


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  • Last Monday, the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control authorized certain transactions winding down or maintaining business with Russian aluminum giant RUSAL through October, after sanctions against the company announced earlier this month hurt industry
  • Charges against two men alleged to have been conspiring to commit economic espionage on behalf of a Chinese company

  • Lance Armstrong settled a False Claims Act case for $5 million. His cycling team was sponsored at one point by the U.S. Postal Service. Apparently doping violates the terms of federal government sponsorship agreements. Who knew?
  • In Texas, the GM of a Venezuelan energy company entered a guilty plea for his role in an international

I was thinking about double jeopardy yesterday. Not the Trebek kind, though that is my favorite tv show. Instead, I was thinking about the somewhat enigmatic statement in the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that no person “be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” My musings were prompted by yesterday’s news that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has asked New York’s legislature to amend the state’s double jeopardy law to ensure that state prosecutors can go after persons whose conduct violates both federal and state law but who may be pardoned by the President after being prosecuted for federal crimes. I’ll provide some context below, but I don’t want to leave you in suspense about my view: I’m troubled by this.

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Did you know that, as of 2008, there’s a good chance the federal government can prosecute you for fraud against the U.S. whenever it wants to, regardless of the statute of limitations? Does that seem alarming to you?

Same here.

The government can do this because of a federal statute called the Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act. The Act says that when the U.S. is at war or “Congress has enacted a specific authorization for the use of the Armed Forces,” the statute of limitations for any offense involving fraud or attempted fraud against the U.S. or one of its agencies is suspended until five years after the termination of hostilities.


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Following our recent post on disclosures to the EPA, this week we’re going to look at disclosures to outside auditors, often in the context of internal investigations, and steps to take to limit any waiver of attorney work-product protection.  Here we go . . .

Work-product protections are not automatically waived by disclosure to