On April 23, 2014, the Second Circuit issued an opinion that could be straight from a modern international-spy novel. European Community v. RJR Nabisco, Inc. involves Colombian and Russian cartels, drug smuggling and money laundering, and a suit by the European Community against U.S. tobacco companies under the federal RICO statute.
In its decision, the Second Circuit applied and clarified the presumption against extraterritoriality of U.S. statutes in the context of a complex conspiracy allegedly orchestrated by RJR Nabisco, Inc. and its affiliates to turn drug proceeds into profits for the cigarette makers. The court held that whether RICO claims can be asserted based on conduct that occurred outside the United States depends on the alleged RICO predicate acts, not the location of the RICO enterprise. Some federal statutes that supply RICO predicate acts apply extraterritorially, while others do not.
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