Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty with BermudaSenate Consideration of Treaty Document 111-6
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[Senate Treaty Document 111-6] [From the U.S. Government Publishing Office] 111th Congress 2d Session SENATE Treaty Doc. 111-6 _______________________________________________________________________ MUTUAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE TREATY WITH BERMUDA __________ MESSAGE from THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES transmitting TREATY BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND THE GOVERNMENT OF BERMUDA RELATING TO MUTUAL LEGAL ASSISTANCE IN CRIMINAL MATTERS, SIGNED AT HAMILTON ON JANUARY 12, 2009 June 29, 2010.--Treaty was read the first time, and together with the accompanying papers, referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations and ordered to be printed for the use of the Senate LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL ---------- The White House, June 29, 2010. To the Senate of the United States: With a view to receiving the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification, I transmit herewith the Treaty between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Bermuda relating to Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, signed at Hamilton on January 12, 2009. I also transmit, for the information of the Senate, the report of the Department of State with respect to the Treaty. The Treaty is one of a series of modern mutual legal assistance treaties being negotiated by the United States to more effectively counter criminal activities. The Treaty should enhance our ability to investigate and prosecute a wide variety of crimes. The Treaty provides for a broad range of cooperation in criminal matters. Under the Treaty, the Parties agree to assist each other by, among other things: producing evidence (such as testimony, documents, or items) obtained voluntarily or, where necessary, by compulsion; arranging for persons, including persons in custody, to travel to the other country to provide evidence; serving documents; executing searches and seizures; locating and identifying persons or items; and freezing and forfeiting assets or property that may be the proceeds or instrumentalities of crime. I recommend that the Senate give early and favorable consideration to the Treaty, and give its advice and consent to ratification. Barack Obama. LETTER OF SUBMITTAL ---------- Department of State, Washington, DC, March 1, 2010. The President, The White House. The President: I have the honor to submit to you the Treaty between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Bermuda relating to Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, signed at Hamilton on January 12, 2009. I recommend that the Treaty be transmitted to the Senate for its advice and consent to ratification. The Treaty covers mutual legal assistance in criminal matters. In recent years, the United States has entered into similar bilateral treaties with a number of countries. This Treaty contains all of the essential provisions of such treaties sought by the United States. It will enhance our ability to investigate and prosecute a wide variety of offenses. The Treaty is self-executing and will not require further implementing legislation. An overview of the Treaty, including a detailed, article- by-article analysis, is enclosed with this report. The Department of Justice joins the Department of State in favoring approval of this Treaty by the Senate at the earliest possible date. Respectfully submitted. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Enclosures: As stated. U.S.-Bermuda Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty OVERVIEW The Treaty between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of Bermuda relating to Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters creates for the first time a treaty-based relationship of mutual legal assistance between the United States and Bermuda. Bermuda is an overseas territory of the United Kingdom and prior to signature, the United States obtained from the United Kingdom, under cover of a diplomatic note, a copy of the entrustment letter to Bermuda, through which the United Kingdom granted Bermuda the authority to sign and conclude the Treaty. The following is an article-by-article description of the provisions of the Treaty. Article 1 sets out the scope of assistance available under the Treaty. Article 1(1) creates an international obligation on each Party to provide mutual legal assistance to the other Party in connection with the investigation, prosecution, and prevention of criminal offenses for which the maximum penalty is deprivation of liberty for at least one year, and in ``proceedings related to criminal matters.'' In limiting the applicability of the Treaty to offenses for which the maximum penalty is at least one year imprisonment, this provision makes clear that the Treaty is to be used for requests relating to serious offenses. There is no other limit on the types of offenses for which assistance can be requested. Thus, as with U.S. mutual legal assistance treaties (MLATs) generally, assistance under the Treaty is available for a broad range of criminal matters, from violent crimes to fraud, from tax matters to racketeering, from computer crime to environmental crime, and so on. The seriousness of the offense is to be measured by the penalty provisions in the state making the request. As noted below, there is no general requirement in the Treaty that the conduct constitute an offense, let alone a serious offense, in both countries. In addition, the negotiators expressed the view that where a request related to an investigation or prosecution of a person for multiple offenses, at least one of which met this threshold, the Treaty would apply as well to the other ``lesser included offenses.'' ``Proceedings related to criminal matters'' is defined in Article 21 of the Treaty to encompass any measure or step taken in connection with the investigation or prosecution of serious criminal offenses, including specifically forfeiture proceedings, as well as ancillary civil or administrative proceedings when they relate to securities matters. Thus, assistance would be available for proceedings of the Securities and Exchange Commission when those proceedings are incidental to or connected with pending criminal investigations and prosecutions. The Treaty also permits the Parties, at their discretion, to treat as ``proceedings related to criminal matters'' any administrative investigation that might result in the imposition of civil or administrative sanctions. Article 1(2) contains a non-exhaustive list of the major types of assistance to be provided under the Treaty, including producing evidence (such as testimony, documents, or items) obtained voluntarily or, where necessary, by compulsion; arranging for persons, including persons in custody, to travel to another country to provide evidence; serving documents; executing searches and seizures; locating and identifying persons or items; and freezing and forfeiting assets or property that may be the proceeds or instrumentalities of crime. Each of these types of assistance is described in detail in subsequent articles in the Treaty. The Treaty also authorizes provision of any other assistance not inconsistent with the laws of the state receiving the request (referred to in the Treaty, as in other such treaties, as the ``Requested Party,'' while the state making the request is the ``Requesting Party''). As long as there is no specific legal restriction in the Requested Party barring the type of assistance requested, it may be provided pursuant to the Treaty. Consistent with most U.S. MLATs, Article 1(3) provides that, with the exception of where it is specifically required by the Treaty, ``dual criminality'' is not a prerequisite for assistance under the Treaty. Thus, assistance shall be provided without regard to whether the conduct at issue would constitute an offense under the laws of the Requested Party. One specific ``dual criminality'' requirement is found in Article 15, relating to search and seizure. Either Party may refuse a request to execute a search or seizure if such authority would not be available under its own law with respect to the conduct in question. Article 1(4), a standard provision in U.S. MLATs, provides that the Treaty is intended solely for government-to-government mutual legal assistance. The Treaty is not intended to provide to private persons a means of evidence gathering, nor is it intended to extend generally to civil matters. Private persons in the United States may continue to obtain evidence from Bermuda by letters rogatory, an avenue of international assistance that the Treaty leaves undisturbed. Similarly, the paragraph provides that the Treaty is not intended to create any right in a private person to suppress or exclude evidence provided pursuant to the Treaty, or to impede the execution of a request. Article 2 requires that each Party designate a ``Central Authority'' to make and receive Treaty requests. The Central Authority of the United States would make all requests to Bermuda on behalf of federal and state agencies and local law enforcement authorities in the United States. The Central Authority of Bermuda would make all requests emanating from officials in Bermuda. The Central Authorities are, pursuant to Article 2(3), to communicate directly with one another. In each state, the Central Authority is to be the Attorney General or a person designated by the Attorney General. In the United States, the authority to handle the duties of the Central Authority under MLATs has been delegated to the Office of International Affairs in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice. The Central Authority of the Requesting Party exercises discretion as to the form and content of requests, as well as the number and priority of requests. The Central Authority of the Requested Party is responsible for receiving and evaluating each incoming request; transmitting it to the proper agency, court, or other authority for execution; and effecting a timely response. Article 3 sets forth the circumstances under which the Requested Party's Central Authority may deny assistance under the Treaty. Refusal under this Article is discretionary with the Central Authority of the Requested Party. Several of the grounds for refusal are common to most U.S. MLATs. So, for example, a request may be denied if it relates to a political or a military offense, if it does not conform to the requirements of the Treaty, or if its execution would impair the sovereignty, security, or other essential interests of the Requested Party, or would be contrary to important public policy. With respect to this last ground, the government of Bermuda indicated that it intends to interpret the provision to give Bermuda the right to deny assistance in cases involving capital punishment. Although the United States made clear in negotiations its view that assistance should be possible in such cases, the United States indicated to Bermuda that it understood Bermuda's intention. The other ground for refusal of assistance, which also appears in a number of U.S. MLATs, is when a request relates to an offender who, if proceeded against in the Requested Party for the offense for which assistance is requested, would be entitled to be discharged on the grounds of a previous acquittal or conviction. In keeping with the overall intent of the Treaty to facilitate assistance, the Parties also included in Article 3 a provision designed to limit the use of grounds for refusal. Under Article 3(2), a Central Authority, before refusing assistance under Article 3(1), is to consult with its counterpart in the Requesting Party to consider whether assistance can be given subject to such conditions as the Central Authority of the Requested Party deems necessary. If the Requesting Party accepts assistance subject to these conditions, it is required to comply with them. In addition, if the Central Authority of the Requested Party refuses assistance, it is required under Article 3(3) to inform the Central Authority of the Requesting Party of the reasons for the refusal. Article 4 prescribes the form and contents of requests under the Treaty, specifying in detail the information required in each request. Article 5 concerns the execution of requests. Article 5(1) includes two important concepts: the requirement that the Requested Party take ``whatever steps it deems necessary'' as empowered by the Treaty or national law to execute requests; and the granting of authority to courts in the Requested Party to issue subpoenas, search warrants, or other orders necessary to execute requests. Taken together, these provisions specifically authorize United States courts to use all of their powers to issue whatever process is necessary to satisfy a request under the Treaty, whether the authority for such process comes from the Treaty itself or from existing statutes. Article 5(2) builds on this by requiring the Central Authority to ensure that requests, where necessary, are presented to appropriate judicial or administrative authorities for action. This provision reflects an understanding that the Parties intend to provide each other with every available form of assistance from judicial and executive branches of government in the execution of mutual legal assistance requests. Article 5(3) addresses the manner in which requests are to be executed. It creates a hierarchy for a Requested Party to follow in determining the appropriate procedures for executing a request. In the first instance, requests themselves may specify a particular procedure to be followed, and such specified procedures are to be followed unless incompatible with the laws and practices of the Requested Party. This can be important to ensure that evidence collected in one state satisfies requirements for admissibility at trial in the other. If no particular procedure is specified in the request, the request is to be executed in accordance with any specific provisions of the Treaty. Finally, if neither the Treaty nor the request specifies procedures to be followed, the Requested Party is to execute the request in accordance with its domestic criminal procedure laws. The intent of this provision, like similar provisions in other U.S. MLATs, is to allow the Requested Party to use its established procedures for obtaining evidence where procedures are not otherwise specified, so long as those procedures do not undermine the obligation in the Treaty to provide assistance. See, e.g., In re Commissioner's Subpoenas, 325 F.3d 1287 (11th Cir. 2003). In Bermuda, the relevant procedures are in the Criminal Justice (International Cooperation) (Bermuda) Act 1994. Article 5(4) allows the Central Authority of the Requested Party to postpone or condition the execution of a request if it determines that execution of the request would interfere with an ongoing criminal investigation, prosecution or proceeding in that state, or would prejudice the safety of any person in its territory. If the Requesting Party accepts assistance subject to such conditions, it must comply with them. Confidentiality of requests is addressed in Article 5(5). Although requests themselves are generally not confidential, the Requesting Party may ask that the request and its contents be kept confidential. The Requested Party is to use its best efforts to comply with such a request, but if assistance cannot be granted without breaching the confidentiality requirements, the decision whether to proceed is left to the Requesting Party. The remaining provisions in Article 5 address some of the types of communications between Central Authorities essential to a good working mutual legal assistance relationship. So, for example, Central Authorities are to notify each other of any problems with executing requests, respond to reasonable requests for progress reports, and inform each other promptly of the outcome of requests, including any reasons for denials, delay, or postponement of execution. Article 6 addresses the costs associated with providing assistance. As is standard in U.S. MLATs, Article 6 provides that the Requested Party must pay all costs relating to the execution of a request, including representation costs, except for the following items to be paid by the Requesting Party: fees of expert witnesses; costs of translation, interpretation and transcription; and allowances and expenses related to travel of persons pursuant to Articles 10 and 11 (relating to travel for the purpose of providing assistance and transfer of persons in custody). The article also provides that, in the event that fulfilling a request would require extraordinary expenses, consultation between Central Authorities shall occur in order to determine the terms and conditions for execution. Finally, if the Requested Party, through no fault of its own, incurs unexpected, extraordinary expenses the Central Authorities are to consult as to whether the Requesting Party should pay some or all of those expenses. The Parties discussed that such situations would be rare. Article 7 addresses limitations on use of information and evidence provided under the Treaty. Information or evidence provided under the Treaty may not be used or disclosed for any purpose other than for the proceedings stated in the request without the consent of the Central Authority of the Requested Party. The Central Authority of the Requested Party may also request that the information or evidence produced under the Treaty be kept confidential or be used subject to certain conditions (Article 7(2)). The default rule, however, is that such information or evidence is not confidential, and Article 7(4) also provides that, unless otherwise indicated, once such information or evidence has been disclosed in a public judicial or administrative hearing related to the request, it may be used for any purpose. Moreover, the Treaty explicitly does not preclude the disclosure of information or evidence to the extent that there is an obligation to disclose it under the Constitution of the Requesting Party in a criminal prosecution. This contingency, found in Article 7(3), was included to ensure that the United States would be able to satisfy any obligations to disclose information under its Constitution, such as those set forth in Brady v. Maryland, 373 U.S. 83 (1963). As with other provisions of the Treaty, the confidentiality protections and use limitation provisions of Article 7 are for the benefit of the two governments that are Parties to the Treaty, and invocation and enforcement of these provisions is entirely a matter for the Parties. Article 8 is the first of a series of articles that spell out in detail the procedures to be employed in the case of specific types of requests for assistance outlined in Article 1(2). Article 8 addresses the obtaining of evidence, whether it is a statement or testimony, documents, records, or particular items. A person from whom evidence is sought under the Treaty may appear voluntarily to provide such evidence, or, if necessary, the Treaty authorizes the Parties to compel production of evidence. This compulsion may be accomplished by subpoena or any other means available under the laws of the Requested Party. Article 8(3) requires the Requested Party to permit persons specified in the request to be present during execution of the request and, through a legal representative qualified to appear in the Requested Party's courts, to question the person giving testimony or evidence. In order to ensure the availability of this possibility, Article 8(2) calls on the Central Authority of the Requested Party, upon request, to notify the Requesting Party in advance of the date and place of the taking of testimony or evidence. Consistent with Article 1(4), these provisions do not create a right for private persons to be present during the execution of the request. Article 8(4) addresses the situation where a person from whom the request seeks testimony or evidence asserts a right to decline to provide such evidence (such as a privilege or immunity). If the claim is based on the laws of the Requesting Party, and there is no claim under the Requested Party's law, the evidence would nonetheless be taken and the claim made known to authorities of the Requesting State so that they may resolve it. The Treaty does not specifically address the resolution of privilege claims under the Requested Party's law, but by implication those are to be resolved by that state's authorities. This formulation allows each Party to resolve privilege claims made under its own laws. Article 8(5) contains the first of several provisions in the Treaty addressing the authentication of evidence produced pursuant to the Treaty. Similar provisions are found at Articles 9(3) and 15(3). Evidence produced under the Treaty may be authenticated by an attestation including, with respect to business records, official records, or evidence that has been seized pursuant to the Treaty, use of one of the forms appended to the Treaty. The appended forms are an integral part of the Treaty. The Treaty provides that evidence produced and authenticated according to the procedure set forth in the Treaty be admissible in evidence in the Requesting Party. Article 9 addresses provision of documents or other records in the possession of government agencies. The Parties are obligated to provide to each other copies of publicly available records in any form in the possession of an executive, legislative, or judicial authority upon request. With respect to documents that are not publicly available, whether to provide such documents is left to the discretion of the Requested Party. The Treaty authorizes the Requested Party to provide to the Requesting Party any records to the same extent, and under the same conditions, as they would be available to the Requested Party's own law enforcement or judicial authorities. Article 10 provides a mechanism for the Requesting Party to ask for the voluntary attendance in its territory, or in the territory of a third state, of a person located in the Requested Party for the purpose of assistance under the Treaty, such as to serve as a witness or expert in proceedings or to assist in an investigation. The Requesting Party must indicate the extent to which the person's expenses will be paid. Article 11 provides a similar mechanism for persons in custody. A need sometimes arises for the testimony in one country of a person who is incarcerated in another country. For example, a witness incarcerated in one country--whether the Requesting or Requested Party--may have to give testimony in the presence of an incarcerated defendant in the other country. Attendance of the person is still voluntary, but is also subject to the discretion of the Parties and agreement of the Central Authorities. In addition, the Treaty imposes certain conditions on such transfers: the person must be held in custody by the receiving Party, unless otherwise authorized by the sending Party; the receiving Party must return the person in custody to the sending Party as soon as circumstances permit or as otherwise agreed; the return of the person shall not require any extradition or other proceedings, such as immigration proceedings; the period that the person is in custody in the receiving Party shall be credited against the person's sentence in the sending Party; and, when the receiving state is neither of the Parties, it is the obligation of the Requesting Party to make all necessary arrangements to meet the Treaty's requirements. When persons agree to travel to a Requesting Party to give evidence, whether in custody or not, Article 10(3) authorizes the Central Authority of the Requesting Party, in its discretion, to give such persons a guarantee of ``safe conduct.'' This would ensure that a person appearing in the Requesting Party would not be subject to service of process or any restriction on personal liberty by reason of any acts or convictions that preceded that person's departure from the Requested Party. This provision would not prevent action against a person for perjury or any other crime committed while in the Requesting Party--rather, it applies only to past offenses. Under Article 10(4), any safe conduct so provided would cease fifteen days after the Central Authority of the Requested Party is notified that the person's presence is no longer required, or if the person has left the Requesting Party and voluntarily returns to it. Of course, as the Treaty sets forth in Article 11(4), this article does not preclude a state from holding a person in custody as required by Article 11(3). While Article 11 addresses the transfer of persons in custody from one Party to the other, Article 12 addresses the situation in which one Party may need to bring persons in custody through the territory of the other on the way to or from third states in order to participate in an investigation, prosecution, or proceeding. Article 12(2) provides that the state through which the person transits has the authority and obligation to keep that person in custody during the transit. Article 13 provides for determining the whereabouts or identity in the Requested Party of persons (such as witnesses, potential defendants, or experts) or items when such information is requested. The Treaty requires only that the Requested Party use its ``best efforts'' to ascertain the location or identity of the persons or items sought. The extent of such efforts will vary, of course, depending on the quality and extent of the information provided by the Requesting Party concerning the suspected location and last known location. Article 14 relates to service of documents. It creates an obligation on the Parties to use their best efforts, upon request, to serve documents relating to a request for assistance, such as summonses, complaints, subpoenas, or notices. The Parties made clear, however, in Article 14(2), that service of a document in a Requested Party requesting appearance or production of documents in a Requesting Party does not impose any obligation under the law of the Requested Party to comply. When the document pertains to an appearance in the Requesting Party, it must be transmitted a reasonable time before the scheduled appearance. The Parties chose not to set a fixed period of time for this obligation, as circumstances may vary. Article 15 obligates the Requested Party to execute a request for the search, seizure, and transfer of any item to the Requesting Party if the request includes the information justifying such action under the laws of the Requested Party. For requests from Bermuda to the United States, this means that a request would have to be supported by a showing of probable cause for the search. The evidentiary standard required under Bermuda law for requests by the United States is whether there are ``reasonable grounds for suspecting,'' for example, that an offense was committed. As noted before, either Party may refuse a request if it relates to conduct for which the powers of search and seizure are not available in the Requested Party. Bermuda indicated during the negotiations that tax crimes are one example of conduct for which search and seizure are not available in Bermuda. Article 16 addresses return of items provided pursuant to Treaty requests. Such items are to be returned as soon as practicable unless the Central Authority of the Requested Party waives the return. The negotiators agreed that this Article should be read in tandem with Article 7, which addresses limitations on use of information provided under the Treaty. Assistance in forfeiture proceedings is the subject of Article 17. The types of actions that could be undertaken in the United States under this Article include actions to seize and forfeit property under Title 18, Section 981 of the United States Code, which can be and is employed to temporarily restrain or to seize assets or proceeds of offenses committed abroad. The language of this Article, however, does not require either state to take any action that would exceed its domestic legal authority. Thus it does not mandate, for example, institution of forfeiture proceedings against property located in the United States in the absence of statutory authority to institute such proceedings. Once property is confiscated, Article 17(3) permits the Party in control of the property to share it with the other Party or otherwise dispose of it in accordance with its own laws and upon such terms as it deems appropriate. United States law permits the government to transfer a share of certain forfeited property to other countries that participate directly or indirectly in the seizure or forfeiture of the property where, among other requirements, such transfer is authorized by an international agreement. This Article provides such authorization for asset sharing with Bermuda. Article 18 is a relatively uncommon provision in U.S. MLATs, although it is based on similar language in MLATs with Canada and the United Kingdom (including the MLAT with the United Kingdom concerning the Cayman Islands). It provides that, before a Party seeks to enforce a compulsory measure requiring an action to be performed in the other Party (such as production of bank records) relating to a matter for which assistance under the Treaty is available, the Party must first attempt in good faith to obtain the desired assistance under the Treaty. The Requesting Party can fulfill its obligation under this Article by making a formal treaty request or by engaging in consultations for the purpose of assessing the availability of assistance under the Treaty. If the Requested Party does not or cannot commit to provide assistance in a timely fashion, and the delay has the potential to jeopardize the success of the investigation or prosecution, the Requesting Party would be relieved of any further obligation under this provision. In addition, this provision does not require use of the Treaty as a first resort where evidence is located in multiple jurisdictions, including the Requested Party, but the Requesting Party is seeking compulsion of evidence located elsewhere (for example, in its own territory). Article 19 states that this Treaty shall not prevent the Parties from providing assistance to each other through the provisions of other agreements, arrangements, or practices that may be applicable, or through the provisions of their national laws. Thus, for example, the Treaty would leave the provisions of U.S. and Bermuda law on letters rogatory completely undisturbed, and would not alter any practices or arrangements concerning investigative assistance or prohibit the Parties from developing other such practices or arrangements. Article 20 provides for consultations between the Central Authorities to promote the effective use of the Treaty. The Parties discussed the importance of regular consultations between Central Authorities. Such contacts generally result in development of practical measures to more effectively implement the Treaty. The final clauses are contained in Article 22. The Treaty will enter into force on the date of the latter written notification by the Parties that they have completed their internal legal requirements for entry into force. For the United States, this means ratification after the advice and consent of the Senate. The Treaty expressly applies to past conduct--that is, once in force, it shall apply to all requests presented between the Parties regardless of when the acts or omissions constituting the offense occurred. Article 22 also provides procedures for termination of the Treaty.