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The recent acquittal in the Eastern District of New York of Thomas Barrack, a longtime friend and ally of former President Donald Trump, who was accused of acting as an unlawful agent of the UAE to influence Trump’s decision-making, is only the latest example of the DOJ’s difficulties successfully prosecuting cases of non-traditional foreign influence in U.S. affairs. DOJ has also faced repeated setbacks in its prosecution in the Eastern District of Virginia of Bijan Rafiekian, former business partner of Trump’s National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, accused of acting as an illegal agent of the Turkish government in an effort to obtain the extradition of a Turkish dissident. Both Barrack and Rafiekian were charged under §951 of the U.S. Criminal Code, which has roots in the Espionage Act of 1917, and broadly prohibits agents of foreign governments from acting in the United States without first notifying the Attorney General. Despite the statute’s broad language, the DOJ has faced significant hurdles in pursuing §951 prosecutions outside the traditional espionage context, and particularly where the alleged foreign agent’s activity involves ostensibly legitimate international business dealings.
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By Harry Sandick, Anna Blum and Abigail Marion
The Second Circuit's long-anticipated decision in United States v. Blaszczak limits the government’s ability to bring fraud or insider trading prosecutions where the information used to achieve an advantage is regulatory information held by the government. It also brings the Second Circuit in greater alignment with the Supreme Court’s wire fraud jurisprudence.
By Andrey Spektor and Laura S. Perlov
If you use Whatsapp or similar platforms for work-related communications, then you’ve probably heard that regulators are putting an end to that practice. Ephemeral and encrypted messaging, they have noted, evades monitoring and prevents retention. A seldom used doctrine allows prosecutors to charge executives with misdemeanor offenses just for being in the position of power when others commit the misconduct. Rather than take a wait-and-see approach, companies and their leaders would do well to prepare for prosecutors to reach deep into their toolbox.
By Evan T. Barr
Ever since the Honeycutt ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2017 that co-conspirators convicted of federal narcotics violations could not be held jointly and severally liable, courts have grappled with whether it also applied outside the narcotics context, to forfeiture judgments imposed in white-collar cases.
By Maria Dinzeo
General counsel may find themselves pulled into difficult conversations with top executives as the Securities and Exchange Commission tightens its rules on company insiders looking to dump their stock.