Extradition in cases of corruption: Practical aspects to strengthen the system and prevent impunity

Gonzalo Bonifaz Tweddle***

Image taken from Proyecto Justicia of México Evalúa

Spanish version here

This year, 2021, will be very important in the fight against corruption around the world, particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean. For the first time, the United Nations General Assembly will hold a special session dedicated to the fight against corruption (A/RES/73/191); and, at the hemispheric level, it is expected that the IX Summit of the Americas will provide an opportunity for the region to showcase its accomplishments since the adoption of the Lima Commitment of 2018 (“Democratic Governance Against Corruption”).

One can add to these events the arrival of a new Biden-Harris administration to the White House, which announced during its campaign that fighting corruption will be a prominent part of its domestic and foreign policies. One of the priorities for the yet-to-be scheduled global “Summit for Democracy” is the fight against corruption (The power of America’s example:  The Biden Plan for leading the democratic world to meet the Challenges of the 21st Century).

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Closing safe havens for Venezuelan State Organized Crime: “Inverted rule of law,” impunity, and challenges in international cooperation in extradition between the U.S. and Spain

Jan-Michael Simon

Criminal actors linked to Venezuelan State Organized Crime, be they in or outside the country, profit from Venezuela’s ruling system of “inverted rule of law” and impunity. The present article sheds light on international challenges that have arisen while seeking accountability abroad. Criminal proceedings currently underway in the U.S. and Spain provide insight as to the spectrum of the criminal activities and the magnitude of the assets stolen. Venezuelan State Organized Crime has been described as “a multi-jurisdictional corruption enterprise that makes Odebrecht look like a downtown Caracas pickpocket.” It is an interesting comparison considering that the U.S. Department of Justice has called the “Odebrecht” precedent “the largest foreign bribery case in history.” Many cases related to Venezuelan State Organized Crime are only beginning to be uncovered. Yet, the cases in the U.S. and Spain make clear that the criminal operations involve illicit transnational relations at the global level between actors of different nationalities and residencies.

Based on three case studies, this article concludes that former high-level public officials linked to Venezuelan State Organized Crime residing in Spain have sought refuge there while trying to elude investigations in the U.S. This article concludes that to ensure that Spain is not a safe haven for such crimes, Spanish authorities must take good faith measures toward prosecution and ensure due diligence, or extradite to the U.S. Failing to do so would result in the Spanish justice sector contributing to the impunity of actors involved in Venezuelan State Organized Crime.

 

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