Wealth Talk: Evelyn Sheehan on the DOJ’s “Long Reach” towards Latin America’s HNWIs
October 27, 2020
Publication: Family Wealth Report
In the fourth episode of Kobre & Kim and Family Wealth Report’s “Wealth Talk” series on cross-border litigation scenarios facing high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) around the world, Kobre & Kim’s Evelyn Sheehan sat down with Robin Rathmell to discuss how clients in Latin America and around the world are increasingly within the extending reach of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
Sheehan, a former DOJ attorney specializing in asset forfeiture, sees Latin America and Brazil in particular as “fertile ground” for the DOJ’s ongoing expansion of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) investigations and forfeitures. Non-U.S. parties with minimal contact with the U.S. are increasingly implicated in these investigations and face both FCPA and money laundering charges. Money laundering especially is extremely easy for the DOJ to claim jurisdiction over and opens up powerful tools for the DOJ to launch broad asset forfeiture actions.
Relatedly, the DOJ is increasingly using forfeiture in their attempts to fight international corruption. Civil forfeiture in particular enables seizure of both U.S. and non-U.S.-based property of people who are not even charged. Fortunately, Congress has required due process for those implicated, including third parties. This opens a significant opportunity for clients to launch discovery proceedings against the DOJ, potentially finding out information about any underlying cases against the client or even forcing the DOJ to end their forfeiture action.