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FIFA Decision Confirms Long Arm of Honest Services Fraud

United States v. Napout

The U.S. government’s lead role in the prosecution of corruption within the Zurich-based FIFA may be a paradigmatic example of U.S. law enforcement acting as the world’s policeman. If corruption is based on foreign executives violating their duties of loyalty to foreign private entities, how does that translate into a violation of U.S. criminal law? Does it matter that the conduct in which the foreign executive engaged — commercial bribery — may not be illegal under the law of the executive’s home country?

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The U.S. government’s lead role in the prosecution of corruption within the Zurich, Switzerland-based Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) may be a paradigmatic example of U.S. law enforcement acting as the world’s policeman, reaching out around the globe to prosecute wrongdoing with little apparent connection to the land of baseball, hot dogs and apple pie. Didn’t the Supreme Court remind everyone just a few years ago that U.S. statutes are presumed only to apply domestically? If corruption is based on foreign executives violating their duties of loyalty to foreign private entities, how does that translate into a violation of U.S. criminal law? Does it matter that the conduct in which the foreign executive engaged — commercial bribery — may not be illegal under the law of the executive’s home country?

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