This blog discusses how authoritarian regimes and commercial adversaries misuse INTERPOL and Red Notices as a tool of repression against High-Net-Worth Individuals (“HNWIs”) and how HNWIs can mitigate the risk of becoming targets.
Although INTERPOL was invented to promote international police cooperation, it has long faced accusations that it is increasingly allowing its Red Notice system to be used by authoritarian regimes (including China, the UAE and Russia), and by adverse or competing businesses. HNWIs in particular have been receiving criminal convictions for non-criminal offences, leading to asset seizures and, in some cases, prison sentences.
What is a Red Notice?
A Red Notice can be issued against an individual when they are accused of illicit activity. However, the issuance of a Red Notice does not inherently validate the charges brought against an individual. Instead, it signifies that a member state has formally requested the cooperation of other INTERPOL member countries in locating and provisionally arresting the individual pending extradition.
Gherson have previously written a series of blogs designed to assist those who fear they might be subject to INTERPOL measures (including a Red Notice):
How can the Red Notice be weaponised?
The case of Bill Browder illustrates the recent weaponisation of Red Notices that extend beyond their intended purpose. Bill Browder, who used to be one of Russia’s largest foreign investors following the collapse of the Soviet Union, faced a retaliatory Red Notice orchestrated by President Vladimir Putin after Browder exposed widespread corruption within the Russian government, unearthing a $230-million fraud scheme involving high-ranking officials. In response, he was targeted and falsely accused of tax evasion via his company. The Red Notice issued by INTERPOL sought his arrest and extradition, his company was raided and his lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, was arrested, tortured and subsequently died in custody.
Why could HNWIs be at risk of being targets of exploited Red Notices?
The affluence of HNWIs makes them perfect targets for politically or economically motivated persecution, driven by conflicts initiated by adverse parties. Red Notices are increasingly being used in commercial disputes, particularly those originating form high-risk jurisdictions with corrupt criminal justice systems. The effects of Red Notices are far-reaching and have been used to tarnish the reputations of HNWIs to increase the adverse party’s competitive advantage.
How can HNWIs mitigate the exploitation of Red Notices against them?
To limit the risk of, and damage caused by, an exploited Red Notice, a number of steps can be taken, including the specific steps below:
- Perform Due Diligence: risk assessments need to be undertaken to identify potential adversaries or other concerns that may lead to a Red Notice. The consequences of receiving a Red Notice must be understood at the start.
- Legal Representation: if a Red Notice is received, it is imperative that experienced Counsel and Legal Representatives are instructed to deconstruct the charges underpinning the Red Notice and consider the prospect of challenging the Red Notice. This would mitigate potential additional risks from non-compliance, further limiting the damage to an individual’s reputation.
INTERPOL, Red Notices and HNWI protection
HNWIs who fear that an INTERPOL Red Notice may have been, or will be, exploited against them, or are just concerned about potential liability, should get in contact.
Indeed, Gherson Solicitors continue to receive requests for expert advice and assistance from those who fear they may have outstanding financial issues. That advice tackles:
- How to best approach a possible INTERPOL red notice;
- Preparing for potential criminal proceedings / an extradition request;
- Preparing for a situation where a civil matter or commercial dispute could be used to initiate bogus criminal proceedings; and
- Exploring the possibility of instigating civil litigation proceedings to recover any misappropriated assets.
How Gherson can assist
Additionally, the team have recently started a series on the regulation of crypto, with the aim of advising those who work in the compliance of this sector. In addition, for those who would like advice on relevant issues, including those who have had issues with the FCA registration process, our specialist regulatory and compliance team can guide individuals and companies through the process.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please do not hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.