Are There Limits To The Creeping Extraterritorial Application Of U.S. Law?

In May 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), in connection with investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division, indicted fourteen people in connection with wire fraud, racketeering and money laundering as part of an investigation over the past several years.  Seven current FIFA officials were arrested in Zurich as they prepared for the 65th FIFA Congress and are expected to be extradited to the U.S. on suspicion of receiving US$150 million in bribes, even though the alleged misconduct was based outside of the United States.  The only connections with the U.S. are that two of the fourteen individuals indicted were U.S. citizens, one was a permanent resident of the U.S. and three others owned residences in the U.S.  The U.S. government also claims the U.S. banking system was used extensively to facilitate the alleged activities.

Several commentators have recently voiced concern over the extraterritorial reach of U.S. law implied by the FIFA indictments, as well as other recent actions by U.S. authorities.  However, the concept that Congress has the authority to enforce its laws outside of the U.S. has been well established for many decades.  While there is a presumption against extraterritoriality absent . . .

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