By: Alina Veneziano*
This Article traces the history of extraterritorial regulation, as applied to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), through an examination of underlying domestic circumstances, such as criminal prosecutions, ideology, and globalization. Legal analyses have focused either on the problems of prosecutorial decision-making domestically or the history, shortcomings, and recommendations of RICO. This Article departs from the “either-or” approach and instead combines the two paths into a single analysis of these domestic effects on the extraterritorial regulation of RICO cases. In other words, its purpose is to analyze the phenomenon of extraterritoriality under the basic principles of criminal law, including the duties of prosecutors, the roles of courts, and the ideals that influence these respective parties. While most scholarship relating to extraterritorial applications tends to analyze such issues under international law principles, such as prescriptive jurisdiction or via international comity, sovereignty, or congressional intent, this Article strives to understand these issues on a national level.
While early judicial holdings have been mainly territorial, and courts have thus resisted utilizing extraterritorial regulation, a different situation is presented with organized crime. It is easily the case that organized crime schemes cross multiple borders, and, with the advent of technological advances and globalization, the methods of manipulation and evasion are multiplying faster than law enforcement can keep up. Congress remedied this situation by drafting RICO to target organized crime in a statute that provides for both criminal and civil suits. The problem is that the courts have interpreted this arguably clear statute in a manner that negates RICO’s original intent, force, and meaning. It is these holdings that set the stage for the next era in U.S. history in dealing with transnational organized crime and RICO. Such rationales are based on attendant circumstances such as the resources of prosecutors, ideology, and globalization.
But there is a problem within the U.S. democratic system: lack of resources, ideological inclinations, and the struggle to balance adherence to congressional intent with the consistent application of relief to injured parties. The realizations/recommendations identified by this Article are threefold: (1) to understand that is perfectly permissible for Congress to be concerned with transnational organized crime only as it applies to domestic conditions; (2) to identify a sufficient U.S. nexus requirement that is consistent in civil RICO applications and reduces the risk of foreign resentment; and (3) to implement training in local, state, and federal law enforcement regarding RICO’s intended coverage and geographic scope. While foreign nationals should demonstrate the domestic injury requirement, this same reasoning should not extend to U.S. nationals. Instead, U.S. claimants under a U.S. statute should be able to assert a civil RICO claim without the unprecedented domestic injury requirement in RJR Nabisco v. European Community. The U.S. nexus requirement for U.S. nationals is found in their citizenship, which should be interpreted in a manner as to satisfy the domestic injury requirement when the private RICO claimant is a U.S. national. Such realizations reduce foreign infringement, case-by-case distinctions, and foreign-cubed transactions. Critically, such recommendations have the secondary effect of alleviating prosecutorial overload by shifting some cases to private claimants, reducing the cases that prosecutors bring that fall outside the types of cases envisioned by Congress, and providing more consistent application without the need for judicial or congressional involvement. By redefining the scope and reach of RICO, internal efficiencies are achieved and this, in turn, affects the U.S. enforcement mechanisms on the international field.