The Second Circuit recently held that a denial of a motion to dismiss a criminal indictment based on the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (“FSIA”) is immediately appealable under the collateral-order doctrine but concluded that even if FSIA did provide immunity from criminal prosecutions, that immunity would not extend to a foreign sovereign’s or its instrumentality’s commercial activities.
Seetha Ramachandran is a partner in the Litigation Department, and a member of the White Collar and Asset Management Litigation practices. An experienced trial and appellate lawyer, Seetha has conducted 10 criminal jury trials, argued 10 appeals before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and handled ancillary civil proceedings in forfeiture cases.
Seetha is a leading expert in anti-money laundering (AML), Bank Secrecy Act, economic sanctions and asset forfeiture matters. Her practice focuses on white collar and regulatory enforcement defense, internal investigations, and compliance counseling. She represents banks, broker dealers, hedge funds, private equity funds, online payment companies, and individual executives and officers in high stakes and sensitive matters. Seetha has deep experience representing institutions and individuals in financial penalty phase of criminal and regulatory matters, and is often retained to litigate forfeiture and restitution claims on behalf of victims and third parties in criminal cases, as well as handling these issues for individual defendants.
Seetha served as a federal prosecutor for nearly 10 years, including as Deputy Chief in the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section (AFMLS), Criminal Division, U.S. Department of Justice. She was the first head of DOJ’s Money Laundering & Bank Integrity Unit, where she supervised DOJ’s first major AML prosecutions, and oversaw all of the Criminal Division’s AML cases. In that role, Seetha coordinated closely with state and federal banking regulators, including FinCEN, the OCC and the New York State Department of Financial Services, giving her deep experience with how these agencies work together, especially in matters involving civil and criminal liability. Her work developing and charging criminal cases under the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) formed the model for AML enforcement that regulators and prosecutors follow today.
Seetha also served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York for nearly six years, in the Complex Frauds, Major Crimes and Asset Forfeiture units where she investigated and prosecuted white-collar cases involving a wide range of financial crimes, including bank fraud, mail and wire fraud, tax fraud, money laundering, stolen art and cultural property, and civil and criminal forfeiture cases.
Seetha is a frequent speaker and prolific author on topics including enforcement trends in the financial services industry, OFAC sanctions, effective AML programs and asset forfeiture.
The Second Circuit has recently held that the Government must account for rental income it denied a property owner during a period of illegal seizure even though the Government was able to establish probable cause at a post-seizure hearing. The appeal stemmed from a decades-long sanctions and civil forfeiture action in which the U.S. Department of Justice has sought to forfeit, among others, a 36-story skyscraper located at 650 Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan co-owned by the Alavi Foundation, an entity accused of laundering money for Iran.