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Second Circuit Review: Broad View of Jurisdiction Over Foreign Instrumentalities in Criminal Matters

November 24, 2021

Litigation of counsel Martin Flumenbaum and firm chairman Brad Karp’s latest Second Circuit Review column, “Broad View of Jurisdiction Over Foreign Instrumentalities in Criminal Matters,” appeared in the New York Law Journal. The authors discuss the Second Circuit’s decision in United States v. Turkiye Halk Bankasi A.S, which held that a district court has subject-matter jurisdiction over the criminal prosecution of a majority foreign government-owned bank. The panel unanimously concluded that the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) does not curtail the broad jurisdiction that U.S. district courts have over “all offenses against the laws of the United States.” While the court did not directly weigh in on the question of whether the FSIA confers immunity in the criminal context, it found that the bank’s alleged sanctions-evading conduct fell within the commercial-activity exception, providing a clear roadmap for future prosecutions of foreign instrumentalities. Litigation associate Melina Meneguin-Layerenza assisted in the preparation of this column.

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