Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Case of the Day: United States v. $6,999,925.00 of Funds Associated with Velmur Mgmt. PTE, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48336 (D.D.C. Mar. 22, 2019)


The US government brought a default judgment motion against nearly US $7 million of funds impounded from a Singaporean company that acted as a front for North Korea to import fuel from Russia, with funds transferred through US banks. The government sought forfeiture pursuant to Rule G of the Supplemental Rules for Admirality or Maritime Claims.

The court granted the turnover of funds, and in addition entered a judgment against the Singaporean company in the amount of approximately US $13 million.


Sanctions are the new frontier in white collar defense! This one just hits all the right buttons for me: North Korea, a money laundering operation with a front company, an in rem caption and admiralty law.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Media Appearance: "A Comparison of Developments in Crypto Law in South Korea" in Asia Business Law Journal

Together with my Kobre & Kim colleagues Michael S. Kim and Daniel S. Lee, I gave an update on South Korea's crypto regulations on Asia Business Law Journal:
On 7 March 2019, the FSC announced that it would focus on passing the amendment to the Act on Reporting and Using Specified Financial Transaction Information, initially proposed on 21 March 2018. The proposed amendment, if passed, would significantly strengthen the banks’ discretion to cease doing business with cryptocurrency exchanges based on concerns over money laundering or terrorism funding.

Market participants have criticized this proposal, claiming it would effectively mean a death sentence for all but the largest exchanges, as mid-sized exchanges would be unable to comply with the rigorous legal requirements.
A Comparison of Developments in Crypto Law in South Korea [Asia Business Law Journal]

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Case of the Day: In re Med. Corp. H&S, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42926 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 15, 2019)


A dental clinic in Japan filed a 28 U.S.C. s. 1782 discovery application against Google, to assist the contemplated action in Japan for defamation and unlawful business interference. Allegedly, the petitioner received a number of one-star reviews on its Google Maps, and it wished to ascertain the identities of the Google account holders who left those reviews. 

The court granted the application.


Considering the general hostility that US courts have had over assisting defamation proceedings abroad, the court's willingness here to breezily grant the discovery request for the petitioner is somewhat surprising, although a 1782 application does not exactly require a public policy assessment like, say, foreign judgment recognition does.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Milestones: In re Extradition of Strunk, 293 F.Supp.2d 1117 (E.D. Cal. Nov. 12, 2003)


Philippines sought a U.S. citizen's extradition from California, based on a charge that the defendant murdered his wife Nida Blanca, a popular actress in the Philippines. A third party confessed to the killing, and in the confession named the defendant as the one who masterminded the crime. In exchange for the confession, the Filipino government paid money to the third party's family. The third party later repudiated the confession in a public hearing.

The court denied extradition and released the defendant from custody immediately. The court found that evidence submitted by the Philippines, based on a recanted confession obtained by payment of money, did not constitute probable cause for extradition.


Nida Blanca's Wikipedia page is here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nida_Blanca She had a 50-year career, and was considered one of the Philippines' greatest actresses. On the legal side, however, this case is notable for setting the floor for an extradition, which is not easy to beat.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Case of the Day: Shi v. New Mighty United States Trust, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 7659 (D.C. Cir. Mar. 15, 2019)


The same case previously was appealed to the D.C. Circuit, which reversed the district court's dismissal for lack of jurisdiction. Upon reversal, the defendants moved to dismiss based on forum non conveniens grounds. The district court granted the motion, holding Taiwan was an adequate alternate forum.

The circuit court reversed the district court's dismissal, finding that the district court abused its discretion in granting the forum non conveniens motion. The court noted the motion was raised seven years after the litigation began, and the district court did not give due consideration for the plaintiff's choice of forum in Washington D.C., which was the only available forum to sue the defendants. (The defendants were not amenable to service in Taiwan, but agreed to submit to jurisdiction there for the purpose of their forum non conveniens motion.)


This case is bonkers. It's virtually unheard of to appeal a forum non conveniens decision and win. But it has been the case that the courts have been far too liberal in granting forum non conveniens motions, which were intended to be an extraordinary motion. Finally, there is a line somewhere.

Friday, May 3, 2019

Media Appearance: "South Korea's Darkest Clubs are Being Dragged Into the Light" on Foreign Policy

Together with Jenna Gibson, who has carved out a unique space on commenting about South Korean pop culture and its international implications, here is my latest on Foreign Policy. And for once, it's not about North Korea!
But the new Gangnam clubs, including Arena and Burning Sun, which began to emerge in the mid-2000s, were opulent, glamourous, and above the law. International capital flowed to these clubs: Burning Sun had investors from Japan and Taiwan, and many of the club’s VIPs were reported to be men from China. K-pop’s international success, and the glitz that came with it, was certainly a factor. . . . The Gangnam club scandal exemplifies everything Korean feminists have been fighting: commodification of women’s bodies, constant surveillance and invasion of privacy, and the power structure that enables all of this with impunity.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Case of the Day: Bartel v. Tokyo Elec. Power. Co., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34194 (S.D. Cal. Mar. 4, 2019)


Plaintiffs are members of the US Navy crew of USS Ronald Reagan and their dependents, who were allegedly exposed to radiation because of the Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown during the Tohoku earthquake of March 2011. Plaintiffs brought action against the defendants TEPCO and GE for injuries. The court had previously dismissed a related litigation without prejudice, and the plaintiffs filed a new litigation with additional plaintiff members. The defendants again moved to dismiss.

The court granted motion to dismiss. The court first found that the previous case determined the court had no personal jurisdiction over TEPCO, and issue preclusion applied to this issue as to the plaintiffs who previously sued in the earlier litigation. Then the court found no personal jurisdiction as to the remaining plaintiffs. As to GE, the court applied the conflict of laws analysis, and applied the Japanese law that granted immunity to nuclear operators in case of a natural disaster.


Whenever there is a major disaster anywhere in the world, you can practically guarantee there will be a lawsuit in the United States not long thereafter. This one is particularly interesting, as it also involves the US military in Japan.