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Opinion

Executives confront new extradition threat

Alistair Graham and Larry Byrne, who act for a UK executive facing extradition to the US over price-fixing claims, argue that the new extradition system between the countries is deeply flawed

This article appears courtesy of International Financial Law Review

The reach of US law has recently been extended. A new fast-track extradition regime between the US and the UK, coupled with the aggressive approach of the US authorities towards prosecuting alleged white-collar criminals and the willingness of the US courts to adopt a broad approach to assuming jurisdiction over a defendant, means UK executives are facing heightened risks of being extradited from their home country to the US for alleged white-collar crimes.

If extradited to the US, they face a judicial system where plea-bargaining is prevalent, conviction rates in some US courts exceed 90% and sentences are stiff. The 25-year sentence handed down to Bernie Ebbers, ex-WorldCom chief executive demonstrates the US crackdown on white collar crime.

Given that almost all UK businesses have some link to the US, whether it be direct (for example, a subsidiary or branch office) or indirect (for example, a customer or a shareholder) it is imperative that UK businesses are aware of the risk of investigation and prosecution by US authorities. Even links to the US that would be viewed by most as flimsy might be enough to find jurisdiction in the US: an email or fax that crosses US borders could be enough.

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