Wednesday, August 09, 2006

What's Good For The Goose Is Gut For The Germans

Funny thing about many Americans; They think they are the only people inhabiting the planet. I've been vacationing in upstate NY and politics seems to be on everyone's mind. Most of the folks staying at the resort are wealthy and Republican. That's good by me, however in listening to them talk about the world and our nation, they act as if we have only a responsibility to ourselves. If "it" isn't good for us, it isn't good for anybody. In addition They seem to think that we can act any way we want, without fear that anyone else will follow our lead.

I dabble in International Criminal Law, (which is to say I haven't taken any cases in the field but I read about it a lot.) It harkens me back to my days at Tufts University where my Professors wrote the US' brief to the Court of International Justice in Der Hague Netherlands, supporting our position in the Iranian Hostage Crisis. An understanding of international law, I think, is an important tool to have if you are a policy maker.

Ellen Podgar at White Collar Prof Blog alerts us to an important international trend. For years the Justice Department has looked to punish conduct that occurred outside our country's borders when their actions violate our laws and such conduct has a negative effect on our nation. The term for this is "objective territoriality". Now it seems that a German prosecutor has decided to look into a possible money laundering scheme where money has been moved from the USA to banks outside of the US and then moved to German banks. The money laundering stems from the alleged attempt by an embattled CEO of a US company trying to avoid having to pay the US Government and 2 whistleblowers more than 10 Million Dollars in a qui tam action that the whistleblowers brought on behalf of the government for the company's (Custer Battles LLC)fraud.

The prosecution may be a good one, but Podgar asks an important question, How will we react if other nations try to prosecute our citizens if actions taken in this country (actions that may otherwise be legal) are illegal in their country and have a negative effect on their nations? The US has for years played the game of international relations with a certain "might makes right" additude. What if France were to seek to the arrest of Donald Rumsfeld because the Iraqi War has negatively effected the French ability to get oil and they decide that the execution of the War with its allegations of torture, violate french laws? How would you feel?
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