The Washington Foreign Law Society
Does the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) Bar Prosecution in U.S. Courts of Commercial Enterprises Owned by Foreign States?
Tuesday, January 10, 2023
From 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM Eastern Time
**Register for the event using the form at the bottom of this page**
On January 17, 2023, the Supreme Court will hear argument in Turkiye Halk Bankasi A.S. v United States on the issue: Do federal courts have subject-matter jurisdiction over criminal prosecutions against foreign sovereigns and their instrumentalities, in light of the FSIA? The prosecution for money laundering in violation of U.S. sanctions on Iran is a major issue for Turkey, and the case has serious implications for U.S. law enforcement and national security.
Halkbank argues that a sovereign state and its instrumentalities enjoy absolute immunity from criminal prosecution in the courts of a foreign state, and that the FSIA itself bars this prosecution. The same FSIA argument was made by an Egyptian bank resisting a grand jury subpoena in the Mueller investigation. So far, the courts have denied immunity to state-owned enterprises applying FSIA criteria without deciding whether the statute applies.
Our panel, including a drafter of the FSIA and three distinguished scholars on foreign state immunity, will discuss: (1) Does the FSIA apply at all to criminal prosecutions? (2) If it is relevant, do the statutory exceptions to immunity apply? (3) If the FSIA does not apply, what rules apply?
— Mark. B. Feldman, former Acting Legal Adviser, U.S. Department of State
— Professor Chimène Keitner, Alfred and Hanna Fromm Chair in International and Comparative Law, University of California Hastings College of the Law
— Professor David P. Stewart, C0-Director of Center for Transnational Business and the Law and the Global Law Scholars Program, Georgetown University Law Center
— Professor Ingrid (Wuerth) Brunk, Associate Dean for Research, Helen Strong Curry Chair in International Law and Director, Cecil D. Branstetter Litigation & Dispute Resolution Program, Vanderbilt Law School
Michael Teodori, President of the Washington Foreign Law Society, will host the session.
**Register for the event using the link at the bottom of the page**
Mark B. Feldman has practiced and taught foreign relations law for many years. As Deputy Legal Adviser at the State Department, he helped draft the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, the Iran Claims Agreement and the UNESCO Convention on Cultural Property. He also chaired the ABA committee responsible for the 1988 amendments to the FSIA, including the arbitration exception. His work in foreign relations is related in an oral history for the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training. https://adst.org/OH%20TOCs/Feldman.Mark.pdf
Professor Chimène Keitner is Alfred and Hanna Fromm Chair in International and Comparative law at the University of California Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. She previously served as the 27th Counselor on International Law in the U.S. Department of State. Professor Keitner has served on the Executive Council of the American Society of International Law and as Co-Chair of the ASIL International Law in Domestic Courts Interest Group. She is a member of the American Law Institute and an Adviser on the ALI’s Fourth Restatement of the Foreign Relations Law of the United States. Her recent published works include International Law Frameworks (5th ed. 2021) and Prosecuting Foreign States, 61 Va. J. Int’l L. 221 (2021).
David P. Stewart is Professor from Practice at Georgetown University Law Center, where he co-directs the Center for Transnational Business and the Law and the Global Law Scholars Program. He is a member of the Board of Editors of the American Journal of International Law and previously served as a Co-Reporter for the Restatement (Fourth), Foreign Relations Law of the United States. His recent publications include The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act: A Guide for Judges (Fed. Jud. Cntr. 2d ed. 2019); Ristau’s International Judicial Assistance (2d ed. with Bowker, 2021); and Law and Diplomacy (with Margaret McGuiness, Elgar 2022).
Professor Ingrid (Wuerth) Brunk is Associate Dean for Research, Helen Strong Curry Chair in International Law, Director, Cecil D. Branstetter Litigation & Dispute Resolution Program, Vanderbilt Law School. Professor Wuerth has served on the board of editors of the American Journal of International Law and on the State Department’s Advisory Committee on Public International Law. She is a member of the American Law Institute and was named as a Reporter for the Restatement (Fourth) of the Foreign Relations Law of the United States. She has received numerous honors and fellowships, including the Morehead Scholarship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a Fulbright Senior Scholar award, the German Chancellor’s Fellowship and many teaching awards.
Michael Teodori is the President of the Washington Foreign Law Society since October 2021. He is a US Policy and Advocacy Specialist at Eni SpA, Italy’s largest energy company, where he focuses on energy policy and congressional affairs. Prior to joining Eni, Mr. Teodori was a Congressional Liaison Officer at the US politics and Congressional affairs office of the Italian Embassy in Washington DC, where he worked to advance relations between the Italy and the US. Mr. Teodori was also a Schuman trainee at the European Parliament, with experience at the European Parliament Liaison Office in Washington, DC as well as at the European Parliament Legal Service in Brussels. Mr. Teodori holds a law degree from the University of Pavia (Italy) and a joint M.A. in transatlantic affairs from the College of Europe (Bruges) and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University (Medford, MA).
- Brief of Mark B. Feldman, Esq., and Professor Chimène I. Keitner as Amici Curiae in support of Respondent: https://www.supremecourt.gov/DocketPDF/21/21-1450/250647/20221221152328041_21-1450%20bsac%20Feldman%20%20Keitner.pdf