Protecting the Rule of Law — Both Here and Abroad

Policy

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Michael Flynn arrives at a U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., December 1, 2017. (Reuters photo: Jonathan Ernst)

The Justice Department’s dismissal of its case against Michael Flynn, President Trump’s former national security adviser, is a warning that countries who claim to follow the rule of law must constantly protect it.

Last September, Flynn’s new defense attorney Sidney Powell claimed that Justice career lawyers had knowingly violated his rights by withholding evidence in his favor from him and the court. Prosecutors shot back that she was simply “advancing conspiracy theories.”

Now documents are tumbling out of Justice that show those same prosecutors had indeed concealed evidence and improperly charged Flynn with making false statements.

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The Flynn dismissal came about due to the efforts of Powell, a former federal prosecutor and past president of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers.

Powell says she hopes her efforts highlight the need for the U.S. “to ensure a legal system that pays more than lip service to the rule of law. We have to actually enforce the rule of law.”

Powell is also concerned about the need for high ethical standards in international business. She chairs the board of the Global Justice Foundation, a non-profit in Washington that is dedicated to exposing corruption and aiding innocent victims caught up in that corruption. (I advise the foundation on future cases to spotlight.)

Outside the U.S., the corruption of courts and other government institutions threatens the free flow of goods and capital that drives international trade.

Canadian businessman Omar Ayesh, who provided the seed money to found Global Justice, was inspired to do so after seeing how he and hundreds of other victims lost money in the largest real-estate fraud in the Middle East, the Tameer Holding scandal. In the end, the Tameer debacle was held to have cost investors $1.8 billion by courts in Dubai, where Tameer was based.

The Tameer case has dragged on in the Dubai courts for a dozen years, despite clear evidence that the powerful al-Rajhi family of Saudi Arabia engaged in bribes, forgery, and misappropriation of assets valued in the billions, and also threatened court-appointed experts in Dubai.

The whole scheme was recently the subject of a documentary called Investment in Sand, produced by the Al Jazeera network’s investigative show. The program revealed that members of the al-Rajhi family, including one brother who is Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Labor and another who is chairman of the world’s largest Islamic bank, were integral players in the Tameer fraud.

Global Justice is tracking cases involving corruption all over the world, including the burgeoning scandal at New Medical Center (NMC), which is the largest private-hospital company in the United Arab Emirates. An independent investigation of NMC’s British unit eventually found evidence of massive fraud and more than $4 billion in undisclosed debt at NMC.

The Financial Times reports that:

. . . the scandal has once again tarnished the UAE’s reputation as a commercial centre. ‘The level of scrutiny for companies from here will be off the charts,’ one investment banker told the paper.

We need more advocates like Sidney Powell and watchdogs like Global Justice to keep tabs on both governments and business. All countries aspiring to the rule of law must make sure corrupt players cannot subvert it, whether it’s by depriving criminal suspects of necessary rights or allowing the fleecing of investors.

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