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Date: 11-02-2017

Case Style:

JORGE YARUR BASCUÑÁN, ET AL. v. DANIEL YARUR ELSACA, ET AL.

Second Circuit Court of Appeals - New York, New York

Case Number: 16-3626-cv

Judge: JOSÉ A. CABRANES

Court: United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on appeal from the Southern District New York (New York County)

Plaintiff's Attorney: Robin L. Alperstein and Jesse T. Conan

Defendant's Attorney: Jennifer M. Selendy and William B. Adams

Description: The question presented in this appeal is whether the plaintiffs
have plausibly alleged “a domestic injury” to their business or
property within the meaning of Section 1964(c) of the Racketeer
Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”), the provision
commonly referred to as civil RICO.1 This question is one of first
impression—in this (or any) Court of Appeals—arising from the
1 18 U.S.C. § 1964(c).
5
Supreme Court’s decision in RJR Nabisco, Inc. v. European
Community.2
In RJR Nabisco, the Supreme Court held, among other things,
that Section 1964(c) of the RICO statute, which gives a private right
of action to “[a]ny person injured in his business or property by
reason of a violation of [RICO’s substantive provisions, codified in
Section 1962],” does not apply extraterritorially.3 Accordingly, the
Supreme Court explained that “Section 1964(c) requires a civil RICO
plaintiff to allege and prove a domestic injury to business or property
and does not allow recovery for foreign injuries.”4 The Supreme
Court did not explain, however, how to determine whether an
alleged injury is domestic or foreign.
Plaintiff‐appellant Jorge Bascuñán, a citizen and resident of
Chile, brought an action under civil RICO in the United States
District Court for the Southern District of New York (George B.
Daniels, Judge) against his cousin, defendant‐appellee Daniel Elsaca,
also a citizen and resident of Chile. Bascuñán alleged that Elsaca,
who had power of attorney over Bascuñán’s finances, stole millions
2 136 S. Ct. 2090 (2016).
3 Id. at 2106 (quoting 18 U.S.C. § 1964(c)). Section 1962 of RICO “sets forth
four specific prohibitions aimed at different ways in which a pattern of
racketeering activity may be used to infiltrate, control or operate an enterprise
which is engaged in, or the activities which affect, interstate of foreign
commerce.” Id. at 2097 (internal quotation marks omitted).
4 Id. at 2111 (emphasis added).
6
of dollars from Bascuñán through several fraudulent financial
schemes.
In the District Court, Elsaca moved to dismiss Bascuñán’s
complaint on the ground that he failed to allege a domestic injury as
required by RJR Nabisco. The District Court granted the motion and,
characterizing Bascuñán’s injury broadly as a $64 million “economic
loss,” held that, because individual plaintiffs suffer economic
injuries at their place of residence and because Bascuñán was a
resident of Chile, Bascuñán alleged only foreign injuries. Its holding
set forth, in sum and substance, the following rule: a foreign plaintiff
who suffered an “economic loss” due to a RICO violation cannot,
absent extraordinary circumstances, allege a domestic injury. On
appeal, Bascuñán argues that the District Court erred in relying
exclusively on his place of residence to determine that he alleged
only foreign injuries. He asserts that, because he alleged injuries to
property located within the United States, he satisfied civil RICO’s
domestic injury requirement. We agree.
While Bascuñán claims a total loss of $64 million, he alleged,
in part, the misappropriation of specifically identifiable property
that was located in the United States when it was stolen. In
particular, he alleged the misappropriation of about $3 million held
in a bank account in New York, and the theft of bearer shares, worth
roughly $40 million, from a safety deposit box also in New York.
Because this property was located within the United States when it
was stolen, we conclude that Bascuñán has plausibly alleged a
7
domestic injury notwithstanding the fact that he is a citizen and
resident of Chile.
To be clear, we do not hold that a plaintiff’s place of residence
is never relevant to the domestic injury inquiry required by RJR
Nabisco. Nor do we hold that any contact with the United States
suffices to make an injury domestic. Indeed, with respect to
Bascuñán’s alleged injuries involving property located outside of the
United States, the fact that Elsaca or his co‐defendants transferred
those stolen funds to (or through) the United States fails to
transform an otherwise foreign injury into a domestic one. As noted,
however, Bascuñán has alleged two injuries that have a sufficient
relationship to the United States to qualify as “domestic” under the
circumstances presented here.
Accordingly, we REVERSE the District Court’s order granting
Elsaca’s motion to dismiss, we VACATE the District Court’s order
denying Bascuñán’s motion for leave to file a second amended
complaint, and we REMAND the cause to the District Court for
further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
BACKGROUND
I. Factual Overview
We review de novo the grant of a motion to dismiss,
“accept[ing] all factual allegations in the complaint as true and
draw[ing] inferences from those allegations in the light most
8
favorable to the plaintiff.”5 The relevant facts, as presented in
Bascuñán’s Amended Complaint, are as follows:
Bascuñán, an only child, inherited a substantial fortune (the
“Estate”) from his parents after their deaths in the 1990s. The Estate
includes various companies and assets owned (directly and
indirectly) by Bascuñán, including shares in Banco de Credito e
Inversiones (“BCI”), the third‐largest bank in Chile, of which his
father had been president.6 At the time of his parents’ death, and for
years afterward, Bascuñán, who was afflicted with a number of
emotional and physical ailments including depression and acquired
immunodeficiency syndrome (“AIDS”), was unable to manage his
own finances. He relied instead on a financial manager originally
hired by his parents.
In 1999, Bascuñán appointed his cousin Elsaca as a new
financial manager to oversee the Estate. Elsaca, who was eight years
Bascuñán’s senior, was a trusted family member with a master of
business administration (“MBA”) degree from the London School of
Economics and extensive financial experience. According to
Bascuñán’s complaint, Elsaca was “a licensed accountant, prominent
Chilean economist, and [formerly] the head of the Superintendencia
5 Jaghory v. N.Y. State Depʹt of Educ., 131 F.3d 326, 329 (2d Cir. 1997).
6 The other named plaintiffs‐appellants—Tarascona Corp., Hofstra Corp.,
Inmobiliaria Milano S.A., Inmobiliaria E Inversiones Tauro S.A., and Inversiones
T & V S.A.—are entities owned and controlled by Bascuñán, and are part of the
Estate. For clarity and ease of reference, we use Bascuñán’s name throughout this
decision in lieu of referring to the plaintiffs jointly.
9
de Valores y Seguros (de Chile), Chile’s equivalent to the U.S. Securities
and Exchange Commission.”7 Bascuñán ultimately granted Elsaca a
broad power of attorney, which included the power to engage in
self‐dealing transactions without Bascuñán’s prior authorization.
Over the next ten years, and until Bascuñán fired him in 2010,
Elsaca and his co‐defendants8 allegedly engaged in a number of
fraudulent financial schemes against Bascuñán, illegally transferring
about $64 million from the Estate to entities and accounts under
their own control. Specifically, Bascuñán claimed that Elsaca
perpetrated four schemes: (1) the New York Trust Account Scheme;
(2) the General Anacapri Investment Fraud Scheme; (3) the BCI
Share Theft; and (4) the Dividend Scheme. We describe each scheme
in turn, focusing on the injuries purportedly caused by each.
A. The New York Trust Account Scheme
In 1998, before he hired Elsaca to manage his finances,
Bascuñán established the so‐called Afghan Trust with money from
7 Joint Appendix (“JA”) 25 (italics added).
8 The individual co‐defendants‐appellees are Cristián Jara Taito, the
general manager of a shell company used by Elsaca, and Oscar Bretón Dieguez,
whom Elsaca appointed as an accountant for the Estate. The remaining codefendants‐
appellees—GM & E Asset Management S.A., Fintair Finance Corp.,
Euweland Corp., Hay’s Finance Corp., Cary Equity’s Corp., Agrícola E
Inmobiliaria Chauquén Limitada, and Alapinjdp Investing Corp.—are corporate
entities owned and controlled (directly and indirectly) by Elsaca. Again, for
clarity and ease of reference, we use only Elsaca’s name when we might
otherwise have referred to the defendants jointly.
10
the Estate. The Afghan Trust, a vehicle for Bascuñán’s charitable
giving, was organized under the laws of the Cayman Islands and is
administered by the New York office of J.P. Morgan. Importantly, its
funds are held in New York in a J.P. Morgan bank account.
In 2001, Elsaca, then in control of Bascuñán’s finances, created
a second trust: the Capri Star Trust. According to Bascuñán, the
Capri Star Trust—the stated purpose of which was also to finance
Bascuñán’s charitable goals—was entirely redundant of the alreadyexisting
Afghan Trust, and “served no purpose other than to
generate sham fees” for his cousin.9 The only difference between the
two trusts was that the Capri Star Trust named Elsaca as an
“Investment Advisor,” which entitled him to receive an “Investment
Advisor” fee of 1% of the total value of the Capri Star Trust’s assets
each year, notwithstanding the fact that UBS (not Elsaca) actively
managed the Trust.10 According to Bascuñán, Elsaca transferred
funds from the Afghan Trust’s New York bank account into the
Capri Star Trust solely to earn sham investment fees ($2.7 million in
total), and to pay sham legal fees ($390,000 in total) to José Pedro
Silva Prado, Elsaca’s personal attorney and alleged co‐conspirator.
Like the Afghan Trust, the Capri Star Trust was established in
the Cayman Islands and administered by the New York office of a
banking and financial services institution (in this instance, UBS AG).
9 JA 28.
10 Id.
11
B. The General Anacapri Investment Fraud Scheme
The next purported scheme, which Bascuñán dubbed the
Anacapri Investment Fraud Scheme, involved several byzantine
sub‐schemes and resulted in Elsaca, and others, illegally transferring
at least $60 million from the Estate to accounts and entities under
their control. Simply put, Elsaca created a private investment fund
in Chile—the Anacapri Fund (or “the Fund”)—that took in a
substantial amount of money from the Estate and paid back very
little: it returned to the Estate only $7.5 million of the approximately
$48 million it had under management. According to Bascuñán,
Elsaca and his associates simply pocketed most of the Estate assets
controlled by the Anacapri Fund; that is, they transferred large sums
of money to themselves several times during the Fund’s eight‐year
existence and retained most of the assets after they liquidated the
Fund in 2009.11 The Estate also paid Elsaca investment management
fees amounting to approximately 30% of the total value of the assets
contributed to the Anacapri Fund, or about $16 million.12
The Anacapri Fund was financed with assets contributed by
three foreign entities controlled by the Estate. The Amended
Complaint does not describe where the money belonging to those
foreign entities was held. Bascuñán did allege that, after
11 Bascuñán alleged that Elsaca operated this scheme using a number of
shell companies, disguising the fact that he was the ultimate beneficiary of
several large transfers made by the Anacapri Fund between 2001 and 2009 and of
the Fund’s final liquidation sale in 2009.
12 This, too, was accomplished through the use of a shell company.
12
misappropriating assets from the Anacapri Fund, Elsaca laundered
those assets through bank accounts in New York and elsewhere.
C. Theft of BCI Shares
One of the Anacapri sub‐schemes—the BCI Share Theft—
requires a somewhat more detailed description. As mentioned
above, the Estate included a 1.47% stake in BCI. An entity called
Tarascona Corp. (“Tarascona”) directly controlled the shares
comprising that stake, and Tarascona was itself wholly owned by
Hofstra Corp. (“Hofstra”), an entity belonging to the Estate. Both
Tarascona and Hofstra were corporations organized under the laws
of the British Virgin Islands (“BVI”) and Hofstra’s interest in
Tarascona was represented by bearer shares stored in a J.P. Morgan
safety deposit box in New York.
In 2007, Elsaca, or an agent acting on his behalf, traveled to
New York and, using the authority granted him in the power of
attorney, removed the bearer shares from the safety deposit box.
Elsaca then arranged for a Panamanian law firm to cancel Hofstra’s
bearer shares and re‐register them in the name of a new entity
created and controlled by him, Nueva T Corp. (or “New
Tarascona”), a BVI corporation.13 This maneuver effectively
transferred control of Tarascona and its only asset, the BCI shares,
from the Estate to Elsaca.
13 Elsaca controlled New Tarascona by means of a shell company called
Euweland, also a BVI corporation wholly owned by Elsaca.
13
At the last step of the BCI Share Theft sub‐scheme, Elsaca
caused the Anacapri Fund to use Estate assets to purchase New
Tarascona, and thus (re)purchase the BCI shares, from him for $43
million.
D. The Dividend Scheme
Finally, Bascuñán alleged that Elsaca stole over $1.8 million in
dividend payments earned by the Estate on its BCI shares. Between
2007 and 2010, a Tarascona account held at BCI in Chile received
over $3.5 million in dividend payments. Elsaca diverted a portion of
those funds from the Tarascona account to his personal investment
accounts at Morgan Stanley in New York. This purported scheme
was rather crude by comparison with the others: Elsaca withdrew
funds derived from the dividend payments by writing checks out of
the Tarascona account, he endorsed those checks in his own name,
and then he deposited the funds into his own accounts.
II. Procedural History
On March 17, 2015, Bascuñán filed an initial complaint,
followed by an amended complaint on August 24, 2015, accusing
Elsaca and his co‐defendants of violating RICO by continuously and
systematically breaching the mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud,
anti‐money‐laundering, and Travel Act statutes through their
actions involving the Estate. On December 22, 2015, the defendants
moved to dismiss Bascuñán’s action on several grounds, including
for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted under
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6).
14
Six months later, after the District Court heard oral argument
on the defendants’ fully‐briefed motion, the Supreme Court issued
its decision in RJR Nabisco, which for the first time required a
plaintiff bringing a private action under RICO to allege a “domestic
injury.”14 In response to the Supreme Court’s decision, Bascuñán
sought leave to file a second amended complaint.
The District Court denied as futile his motion for leave to
amend and simultaneously granted the defendants’ pending motion
to dismiss, solely on the ground that Bascuñán failed to meet civil
RICO’s new “domestic injury” requirement.
In determining whether Bascuñán’s complaint set forth a
domestic injury, the District Court characterized “[t]he RICO injury
alleged [as] an economic loss of approximately $64 million.”15 It did
not consider whether each of the four fraudulent schemes alleged by
Bascuñán caused separately cognizable RICO injuries to property or
business, but concluded instead that Bascuñán suffered a single
“economic loss.”16
Then, in order to decide where in geographic terms it should
locate that “economic loss,” the District Court drew an analogy to
the tort claim accrual rules under Section 202 of the New York Civil
14 136 S. Ct. at 2111.
15 Bascuñán v. Daniel Yarur ELS, No. 15‐CV‐2009 (GBD), 2016 WL 5475998,
at *6 (S.D.N.Y. Sept. 28, 2016).
16 Id.
15
Practice Law and Rules (“NYCPLR”), New York State’s so‐called
“borrowing statute.”17 It observed that, “[w]hen applying this statute
to determine where an economic injury accrued, courts typically ask
two common‐sense questions: [1] who became poorer, and [2] where
did they become poorer.”18 That inquiry, according to the District
Court, “usually focuses upon where the economic impact of the
injury was ultimately felt,” which “is normally the state of
plaintiffs[’] residence.”19
In reliance on that analogy, the District Court held that “[a]ll
of the funds at issue . . . were purportedly owned by Bascuñán, and
thus, he is the person that ultimately suffered the loss. And as a
Chilean citizen and resident, he suffered the losses in Chile.”20 It
17 Id. at *4. NYCPLR § 202 provides in full:
An action based upon a cause of action accruing without the state
cannot be commenced after the expiration of the time limited by
the laws of either the state or the place without the state where the
cause of action accrued, except that where the cause of action
accrued in favor of a resident of the state the time limited by the
laws of the state shall apply.
A cause of action “accrues” when it “come[s] into existence as an enforceable
claim or right.” BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 25 (10th ed. 2014).
18 Bascuñán, 2016 WL 5475998, at *4 (quoting Deutsche Zenlral‐
Genossenchaftsbank AG v. HSBC N. Am. Holdings, Inc., No. 12 CIV. 4025 (AT), 2013
WL 6667601, at *6 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 17, 2013)) (internal quotation marks omitted).
19 Id. (internal quotation marks omitted).
20 Id. at *6 (internal citation omitted).
16
then dismissed Bascuñán’s RICO action for failure to allege a
domestic injury.
The District Court favored this residency‐based test primarily
because it “focuse[d] on the plaintiff and where the alleged injury
was suffered,” as opposed to focusing on the defendant’s conduct.21 It
read RJR Nabisco as standing for the proposition that “the location
where the plaintiff suffered the alleged injury dictates whether the
plaintiff may pursue a private right of action under § 1964(c).”22
DISCUSSION
The sole question on appeal, subject to our de novo review, is
whether Bascuñán plausibly alleged “a domestic injury to business or
property.”23 No Court of Appeals has yet to consider how to
determine whether a civil RICO injury is “domestic” or “foreign.”
21 Id. In the District Court, Bascuñán, looking to New York State’s
personal jurisdiction long‐arm statute, NYCPLR § 302(a)(3), argued that injuries
to persons or property occur where “the location of the original event causing the
injury [occurred],” Whitaker v. Am. Telecasting, Inc., 261 F.3d 196, 209 (2d Cir.
2001), and that, because Elsaca acted in New York to misappropriate certain
funds, Bascuñán’s alleged injuries were “domestic.”
22 Bascuñán, 2016 WL 5475998, at *5.
23 Id. (emphasis added). A complaint will survive a motion to dismiss if it
contains “enough facts to a state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face.” Bell
Atl. Corp v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). A claim is plausible “when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable
inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.” Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). We need not and do not decide whether
17
As explained more fully below, we hold, as an initial matter,
that where a civil RICO plaintiff alleges separate schemes that
harmed materially distinct interests to property or business, each
harm—that is to say, each “injury”—should be analyzed separately
for purposes of this inquiry. Next, we hold, contrary to the District
Court, that a plaintiff who is a foreign resident may nevertheless
allege a civil RICO injury that is domestic. At a minimum, when a
foreign plaintiff maintains tangible property in the United States, the
misappropriation of that property constitutes a domestic injury.
With respect to some of the schemes in the Amended Complaint,
Bascuñán has alleged the misappropriation of tangible property
located in the United States and thus, to that extent, has alleged a
domestic injury. We therefore reverse the judgment of the District
Court.
I. RICO’s Statutory Framework
In enacting RICO, which is Title IX of the Organized Crime
Control Act of 1970, Congress “establish[ed] new penal prohibitions,
and . . . provid[ed] enhanced sanctions and new remedies” in order
to thwart and punish individuals seeking to use illegal means and
ends “to infiltrate and corrupt legitimate business.”24 Although
commonly associated with the national effort to eradicate organized
Bascuñán’s complaint satisfies any of the other requirements for an actionable
civil RICO claim.
24 Pub. L. No. 91‐452, 84 Stat. 922, 923 (1970) (Statement of Findings and
Purpose); see also Ideal Steel Supply Corp. v. Anza, 652 F.3d 310, 320 (2d Cir. 2011)
(discussing the purposes behind RICO).
18
crime in America, “Congress drafted RICO broadly enough to
encompass a wide range of criminal activity, taking many different
forms and likely to attract a broad array of perpetrators operating in
many different ways.”25
Specifically, RICO created “four new criminal offenses
involving the activities of organized criminal groups in relation to
an enterprise.”26 Those offenses are “founded on the concept of
racketeering activity,” which “[t]he statute defines . . . to encompass
dozens of state and federal offenses, known in RICO parlance as
predicates.”27 A party commits a RICO violation when he engages in
a “pattern of racketeering activity—a series of related predicates that
together demonstrate the existence or threat of continued criminal
activity”—in order to “infiltrate, control, or operate a[n] enterprise
which is engaged in, or the activities of which affect, interstate or
foreign commerce.”28
25 H.J. Inc. v. Nw. Bell Tel. Co., 492 U.S. 229, 248–49 (1989).
26 RJR Nabisco, 136 S. Ct. at 2096.
27 Id. For example, the statute defines “racketeering activity” to include
“any act or threat involving murder, kidnapping, gambling, arson, robbery,
bribery, extortion, dealing in obscene matter, or dealing in a controlled substance
. . . which is chargeable under State law and punishable by imprisonment for
more than one year” as well as any act indictable under certain federal
provisions including those prohibiting mail fraud, wire fraud, and financial
institution fraud. 18 U.S.C. § 1961(1).
28 RJR Nabisco, 136 S. Ct. at 2096–97 (internal quotation marks omitted).
19
Those four specific prohibitions, which are set forth in Section
1962 of RICO, were authoritatively summarized as follows:
Section 1962(a) makes it unlawful to invest income
derived from a pattern of racketeering activity in an
enterprise. Section 1962(b) makes it unlawful to acquire
or maintain an interest in an enterprise through a
pattern of racketeering activity. Section 1962(c) makes it
unlawful for a person employed by or associated with
an enterprise to conduct the enterprise’s affairs through
a pattern of racketeering activity. Finally, Section
1962(d) makes it unlawful to conspire to violate any of
the other three prohibitions.29
In addition, Section 1963(a) of RICO makes any violation of
those four prohibitions subject to criminal penalties. Sections 1964(a)
and (b) authorize the Attorney General of the United States to bring
civil proceedings to enforce those prohibitions.30 And Section 1964(c)
of RICO, which is the focus of this appeal, permits “[a]ny person
injured in his business or property by reason of a violation of section
1962” to bring a private civil suit in federal district court and
authorizes the recovery of treble damages, attorney’s fees, and
costs.31
29 Id. at 2097.
30 Id.
31 In full, Section 1964(c) provides:
20
II. RICO and Issues of Extraterritoriality
A. The Supreme Court’s Decision in RJR Nabisco
In RJR Nabisco, the Supreme Court considered whether the
RICO statute applies extraterritorially. The Court determined, as an
initial matter, that “[t]he question of RICO’s extraterritorial
application really involves two questions”: (1) “do RICO’s
substantive prohibitions, contained in § 1962, apply to conduct that
occurs in foreign countries?” and (2) “does RICO’s private right of
action, contained in § 1964(c), apply to injuries that are suffered in
foreign countries?”32 In answering both questions, the Court applied
the presumption against extraterritoriality: a canon of statutory
construction that requires courts to construe federal laws “to have
Any person injured in his business or property by reason of a violation of
section 1962 of this chapter may sue therefor in any appropriate United
States district court and shall recover threefold the damages he sustains
and the cost of the suit, including a reasonable attorney’s fee, except that
no person may rely upon any conduct that would have been actionable as
fraud in the purchase or sale of securities to establish a violation of
section 1962. The exception contained in the preceding sentence does not
apply to an action against any person that is criminally convicted in
connection with the fraud, in which case the statute of limitations shall
start to run on the date on which the conviction becomes final.’
See also G. Robert Blakey, The Rico Civil Fraud Action in Context: Reflections on
Bennett v. Berg, 58 Notre Dame L. Rev. 237, 249–280 (1982) (on the legislative
history of RICO); Michael Goldsmith, Judicial Immunity for White‐Collar Crime: The
Ironic Demise of Civil Rico, 30 Harv. J. on Legis. 1, 6–8 (1993) (same).
32 136 S. Ct. at 2099.
21
only domestic application” unless there is a clear and unmistakable
indication that Congress intended the law to apply abroad.33
With respect to the first question, the Court held that “RICO
applies to some foreign racketeering activity,” explaining that “[a]
violation of § 1962 may be based on a pattern of racketeering that
includes predicate offenses committed abroad, provided that each of
those offenses violates a predicate statute that is itself
extraterritorial.”34
On the second question, the one directly relevant to this
appeal, the Court concluded that Section 1964(c), the civil RICO
provision, “[i]rrespective of any extraterritorial application of §
1962,” does not overcome the presumption against extraterritoriality
and, consequently, a plaintiff must allege a domestic injury.35
In answering the second question, the Court made a point of
separately applying the presumption against extraterritoriality to
Section 1964(c). It concluded that the presumption against
extraterritoriality applies not just to “the question of what conduct
falls within a statute’s purview” but also to a statute’s creation of a
private right of action, because “providing a private civil remedy for
foreign conduct creates a potential for international friction beyond
33 Id. at 2100 (citing Morrison v. National Australia Bank Ltd., 561 U.S. 247,
255 (2010)).
34 Id. at 2103 (emphasis added).
35 Id. at 2106.
22
that presented by merely applying U.S. substantive law to that
foreign conduct.”36 For instance, drawing a comparison to antitrust
law’s treble damages remedy, the Court noted that it had previously
been told by foreign governments that applying U.S. civil remedies
to foreign conduct “would unjustifiably permit [foreign] citizens to
bypass their own [nation’s] less generous remedial schemes.”37
Nevertheless, the Supreme Court stated that the “domestic injury”
requirement of Section 1964(c)—more specifically, the fact that
RICO’s private right of action lacks language expressly providing
recovery for injuries to foreign persons—“does not mean that
foreign plaintiffs may not sue under RICO.”38
Ultimately, because the plaintiffs had stipulated that they
waived their damages claims for any domestic injuries, the Court
did not explain how to identify a “domestic injury” and noted only
that “[t]he application of this rule in any given case will not always
be self‐evident, as disputes may arise as to whether a particular
alleged injury is ‘foreign’ or ‘domestic.’”39
36 Id. (internal quotation marks and emphasis omitted).
37 Id. at 2106–07 & n.9 (citing amici curiae briefs filed by the Federal
Republic of Germany, the United Kingdom, and Canada in the matter of F.
Hoffman‐La Roche Ltd. V. Empagran S.A., 542 U.S. 155 (2004)).
38 Id. at 2110 n.12.
39 Id. at 2111.
23
B. The “Domestic Injury” Determination
The guidance from the Supreme Court in RJR Nabisco
regarding what constitutes a domestic injury is admittedly sparse.
The Court held that “[s]ection 1964(c) requires a civil RICO plaintiff
to allege and prove a domestic injury to business or property,” but it
did not indicate what factors a court should examine to determine
whether a plaintiff’s alleged injury is foreign or domestic.40 We will
now turn to the schemes alleged here and their accompanying
injuries.
Before doing so, however, we note that the District Court
erred in its preliminary approach to discerning Bascuñán’s injuries.
The District Court’s generic characterization of Bascuñán’s alleged
injuries as “an economic loss of approximately $64 million” is not
helpful in determining whether, for purposes of the presumption
against extraterritoriality, his particular injuries were foreign or
domestic.41 All civil RICO injuries are, by the terms of the statute
itself, economic losses of one kind or another. A plaintiff bringing a
civil RICO claim must allege an injury to his “business or
property”42; he cannot, for example, recover for “personal injuries.”43
As we have explained, “[t]he requirement that the injury be to the
40 Id.
41 Bascuñán, 2016 WL 5475998, at *6.
42 18 U.S.C. § 1964(c).
43 RJR Nabisco, 136 S. Ct. at 2108
24
plaintiff’s business or property means that the plaintiff must show a
proprietary type of damage,”44 or, in other words, an “economic
injury.”45
In order to determine where the economic losses alleged by a
civil RICO plaintiff are located geographically, courts must examine
more closely the specific type of injuries alleged. It is not enough
simply to label the business or property injuries, tautologically, as
“economic” injuries. Because, as the Supreme Court explained,
“[t]he application of th[e domestic injury] rule in any given case will
not always be self‐evident,”46 this analysis will, as a general matter,
depend on the particular facts alleged in each case. In addition, if a
plaintiff alleges more than one injury, courts should separately
analyze each injury to determine whether any of the injuries alleged
are domestic. If one of the alleged injuries is domestic, then the
plaintiff may recover for that particular injury even if all of the other
injuries are foreign.47
44 Bankers Tr. Co. v. Rhoades, 741 F.2d 511, 515 (2d Cir. 1984), vacated on
other grounds, 473 U.S. 922 (1985).
45 Agency Holding Corp. v. Malley‐Duff & Assocs., Inc., 483 U.S. 143, 151,
(1987) (explaining that civil RICO was “designed to remedy economic injury”).
46 RJR Nabisco, 136 S. Ct. at 2111.
47 Id. (explaining that “Section 1964(c) requires a civil RICO plaintiff to
allege prove a domestic injury to business or property and does not allow
recovery for foreign injuries” (emphasis added)).
25
Accordingly, we begin our analysis with the schemes that are
easiest to analyze: the Dividend Scheme and the General Anacapri
Investment Fraud Scheme. We then examine the more complex
issues raised by the New York Trust Account Scheme and the BCI
Share Theft, in turn.
C. Elsaca’s Alleged Use of Domestic Bank Accounts
We conclude that both the Dividend Scheme and the General
Anacapri Investment Fraud Scheme failed to allege a “domestic”
injury. With respect to the Dividend Scheme, Bascuñán alleged that
Elsaca stole funds that were legally owned by a foreign corporation
(and beneficially owned by Bascuñán himself, a foreign citizen and
resident) and held in a foreign bank account. The only domestic
element alleged is that Elsaca transferred these foreign funds to his
own accounts in New York. Similarly, the only domestic elements of
the General Anacapri Investment Fraud Scheme pertain to Elsaca’s
laundering of stolen money using bank accounts in the United States
and elsewhere.48
48 While Bascuñán argues in his brief that both of these schemes involved
the seizure of assets out of New York‐based accounts, we find no support for his
assertions in the portions of the Amended Complaint he cites. See Plaintiffs’ Brief
30. In addition, Bascuñán cites portions of the proposed SAC to support his
assertion that these two schemes damaged property located within the United
States. Id. However, as we explain below, we do not consider allegations made in
Bascuñán’s proposed SAC in deciding this appeal.
26
That is not enough to allege a domestic injury. Indeed, one
could argue that such allegations are insufficient under a
straightforward application of RJR Nabisco, as allegations similar to
Bascuñán’s were levied in RJR Nabisco itself.49 Bascuñán does not
even expressly argue that transferring money to (or through) the
United States makes his alleged injuries “domestic.” Instead, he
seems to argue only that “where the alleged RICO injury is the
misappropriation of property located within the territorial
49 As Justice Ginsburg, writing separately in RJR Nabisco, observed:
All defendants are U.S. corporations, headquartered in the United
States, charged with a pattern of racketeering activity directed and
managed from the United States, involving conduct occurring in
the United States. In particular, according to the complaint,
defendants received in the United States funds known to them to
have been generated by illegal narcotics trafficking and terrorist
activity, conduct violative *2115 of § 1956(a)(2); traveled using the
facilities of interstate commerce in furtherance of unlawful
activity, in violation of § 1952; provided material support to
foreign terrorist organizations “in the United States and
elsewhere,” in violation of § 2339B; and used U.S. mails and wires
in furtherance of a “scheme or artifice to defraud,” in violation of
§§ 1341 and 1343. App. to Pet. for Cert. 238a–250a.
Id. at 2114–15 (Ginsburg, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part); see also id.
at 2116 (Breyer, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part) (“I note that this
case does not involve the kind of purely foreign facts that create what we have
sometimes called “foreign‐cubed” litigation (i.e., cases where the plaintiffs are
foreign, the defendants are foreign, and all the relevant conduct occurred
abroad.”).
27
jurisdiction of the United States, [plaintiffs] have plainly alleged a
domestic RICO injury to their business or property.”50
We ultimately conclude that an injury to tangible property is
generally a domestic injury only if the property was physically
located in the United States, and that a defendant’s use of the U.S.
financial system to conceal or effectuate his tort does not, on its own,
turn an otherwise foreign injury into a domestic one. We thus hold
that the use of bank accounts located within the United States to
facilitate or conceal the theft of property located outside of the
United States does not, on its own, establish a domestic injury. To
hold otherwise would subvert the intended effect of the “domestic
injury” requirement articulated by the RJR Nabisco Court. Because of
the primacy of American banking and financial institutions,
particularly those in New York, a transnational RICO case is often
likely to involve in some way, however insignificant, financial
transactions with American institutions. Holding that a defendant’s
mere use of a domestic bank account could transform an otherwise
foreign injury into a domestic one might well effectively eliminate
the effect of the domestic injury requirement in a large number of
cases.51 In addition, and importantly, the only domestic connections
50 Plaintiffs’ Brief 31–32.
51 See, e.g., U.S. Dep’t of State, Money Laundering and Financial Crimes
(2001), https://www.state.gov/j/inl/rls/nrcrpt/2000/959.htm (describing
enforcement cases involving foreign entities laundering criminal proceeds
through the United States). Cf. Shipping Corp. of India v. Jaldhi Overseas Pte Ltd.,
585 F.3d 58, 61–62 (2d Cir. 2009) (explaining the negative practical consequences
of a legal rule that treated the momentary passage of electronic funds through
28
alleged here were acts of the defendant. Bascuñán and his relevant
property always remained abroad, and these injuries did not arise
from any preexisting connection between Bascuñán and the United
States. To allow such a plaintiff to recover treble damages would
thus “unjustifiably permit [foreign] citizens to bypass their own
[nation’s] less generous remedial schemes.”52
Accordingly, at least insofar as they are pleaded in the
Amended Complaint, these schemes fail to allege a domestic
injury.53
New York banks as “sufficient to vest jurisdiction in the United States District
Court of the Southern District of New York”); Permanent Editorial Bd. for the
Uniform Commercial Code, PEB Commentary No. 16: Sections 4A–502(d) and
4A–503, at 5 n. 4 (July 1, 2009) (same).
52 RJR Nabisco, 136 S. Ct. at 2106–07.
53 After the Supreme Court issued its decision in RJR Nabisco, Bascuñán
sought leave to file a second amended complaint (the “SAC”). The SAC alleged
an additional scheme not otherwise mentioned in the Amended Complaint, the
“Tarascona Laundering Scheme,” and added more detail to the allegations
regarding the four schemes already pleaded. Bascuñán argues on appeal that the
allegations contained in the SAC (in combination with those set forth in the
Amended Complaint) plausibly alleged the existence of several domestic injuries
because they asserted that Elsaca stole assets out of accounts located in New
York. See Plaintiff’s Brief 30. However, the District Court denied Bascuñán’s
motion for leave to file the SAC as futile, at the same time as it granted Elsaca’s
motion to dismiss, because it too failed to allege a domestic injury, presumably
for the same reason. See Bascuñán, 2016 WL 5475998, at *6 n.16 (stating only that
“the proposed Second Amended Complaint also fails to sufficiently allege a
domestic RICO injury”).
29
D. Foreign‐Owned Property Located Within the United States
The New York Trust Account Scheme and the BCI Share
Theft, on the other hand, allege that certain property—although
belonging to a foreign owner—was located within the United States
when it was stolen. As explained below, we conclude that the
District Court erred in holding that these schemes caused only
foreign injuries.
1. The New York Trust Account Scheme
We start with the New York Trust Account Scheme, in which
Elsaca misappropriated funds held in a New York bank account at
J.P. Morgan. This alleged injury is an injury to property; money, as
As we have already stated, we conclude that the District Court committed
a legal error in relying on Bascuñán’s place of residence to determine whether or
not Bascuñán plausibly alleged a domestic injury under the circumstances
presented here. We also conclude that, when examined under the proper legal
framework, Bascuñán’s Amended Complaint sets forth domestic injuries.
Because we find it necessary to reinstate Bascuñán’s Amended Complaint, we do
not consider the allegations set forth in the proposed SAC to be before us at this
time. Instead, because it was based on the same legal error, we go only so far as
to vacate the District Court’s denial of Bascuñán’s motion to amend his
complaint and leave it to the District Court to determine, in the first instance,
whether any further amended complaint is futile in light of our ruling. See
Dougherty v. Town of North Hempstead Bd. of Zoning Appeals, 282 F.3d 83, 87 (2d
Cir. 2002) (explaining that we review de novo the denial of a motion for leave to
amend that is “based on an interpretation of law” and that “[l]eave to amend a
complaint shall be freely given when justice so requires”); cf. Kassner v. 2nd
Avenue Delicatessen Inc., 496 F.3d 229, 244–45 (2d Cir. 2007) (remanding to the
district court to “consider whether to allow the already‐submitted proposed
amended complaint or allow submission of another one” where the “district
court’s futility analysis rested on an incorrect conclusion of law,” and in light of a
district court’s “discretion to limit the time for amendment of the pleadings”).
30
has been observed in a variety of other contexts, is property.54
Moreover, this injury is analogous to an injury to tangible property,
by which we mean property that can be fairly said to exist in a
precise location.55 While money is, of course, ultimately fungible, the
money allegedly stolen as a result of this scheme was situated in a
specific geographic location at the time of injury such that we can
treat it as tangible property for purposes of this inquiry.
Accordingly, we consider this scheme to have involved the
misappropriation of tangible property located within the United
States.56 Where the injury is to tangible property, we conclude that,
absent some extraordinary circumstance, the injury is domestic if the
54 See Reiter v. Sonotone Corp., 442 U.S. 330, 338 (1979) (“In its dictionary
definitions and in common usage ‘property’ comprehends anything of material
value owned or possessed. Money, of course, is a form of property.”(citation
omitted)); LoPresti v. Terwilliger, 126 F.3d 34, 41–42 (2d Cir. 1997) (observing that,
under New York law an action will lie, in certain circumstances, for the
conversion of money).
55 Because it has “physical form and characteristics,” BLACK’S LAW
DICTIONARY 1412 (10th Ed. 2014), tangible property can be said to exist in a
precise location.
56 If we draw an analogy to the way money is treated in a claim for
conversion, which is defined as “[t]he wrongful possession or disposition of
another’s property as if it were one’s own,” id. at 406, and thus is a particularly
appropriate comparison given the facts alleged here, it is well settled, at least
under New York law, “that an action will lie for the conversion of money where
there is a specific, identifiable fund and an obligation to return or otherwise treat
in a particular manner the specific fund in question.” Mfrs. Hanover Tr. Co. v.
Chem. Bank, 160 A.D.2d 113, 124 (1st Dep’t 1990).
31
plaintiff’s property was located in the United States when it was
stolen or harmed, even if the plaintiff himself resides abroad.57
Several considerations support such a rule.
First and foremost, this rule accords with RJR Nabisco and
furthers the principles animating the presumption against
extraterritoriality. The principal justification for the domestic injury
requirement, according to RJR Nabisco, is the need to avoid
“international friction.”58 Foreign persons and entities that own
private property located within the United States expect that our
laws will protect them in the event of damage to that property. That
modest expectation is entirely justified, especially when we consider
that a foreign resident’s property located in the United States is
otherwise subject to all of the regulations imposed on private
property by American state and federal law. We see no reason, in
the text of the RICO statute or in the RJR Nabisco decision, why we
should exclude private property of this kind from the remedial
benefits conferred by RICO’s private right of action.
Few things could be more destructive to the comity
underlying the international system than legal rules that penalize
international economic cooperation and deter foreign investment
57 Another district court in this Circuit has utilized a similar test. See
Elsevier, Inc. v. Gorssman, 199 F. Supp. 3d 768, 786 (S.D.N.Y. 2016) (holding that “if
the plaintiff has suffered an injury to his or her property, the court should ask
where the plaintiff parted with the property or where the property was
damaged” in order to determine where the injury occurred).
58 RJR Nabisco, 136 S. Ct. at 2106.
32
simply because such activity involves “foreign” counterparties.
Indeed, the majority in RJR Nabisco took care to make plain that its
opinion should not be taken to “mean that foreign plaintiffs may not
sue under RICO.”59 That, of course, is exactly the effect of the
District Court’s residency‐based test. Our rule, on the other hand,
does not discriminate against foreigners who own property in the
United States: it ensures that both foreign and domestic plaintiffs
can obtain civil RICO’s remedy for damage to their property, but
only if their property was located within the territorial jurisdiction
of the United States.60 In so doing, it protects the interest each
59 Id. at 2110 n.12. Justice Ginsburg, in her opinion concurring in part and
dissenting in part in RJR Nabisco, an opinion on which the District Court heavily
relied, concluded that Justice Alito’s opinion for the Court made civil RICO
litigation “available to domestic but not foreign plaintiffs.” Id. at 2115. With
respect, we think that this was a misreading of the Majority’s opinion.
Justice Alito concluded, on the basis of prior precedent, that the Court
should apply the presumption against extraterritoriality to the RICO statute’s
private right of action, in addition to its substantive prohibitions. Id. at 2106. He
then determined that nothing in Section 1964(c) established that the statute
reaches foreign injuries and, as a result, a civil RICO plaintiff must allege a
domestic injury. Id. at 2108. He expressly declined to indicate what constitutes a
domestic or foreign injury and, despite Justice Ginsburg’s reading to the
contrary, never equated the location of a civil RICO plaintiff’s place of residence
with the location of that plaintiff’s alleged injury. Id. at 2111. Instead, in the
context of explaining why civil RICO, unlike Section 4 the Clayton Act, 15 U.S.C.
§ 15, does not apply to foreign injuries (disagreeing with Justice Ginsburg on that
specific point), Justice Alito stated that civil RICO’s failure to provide recovery
for foreign injuries “does not mean that foreign plaintiffs may not sue under
RICO,” RJR Nabisco, 136 S. Ct. at 2110 & n.12.
60 See, e.g., United States v. Federative Republic of Brazil, 748 F.3d 86, 94 (2d
Cir. 2014) (holding that funds in a bank account at the New York branch of a
major bank were located “within the jurisdiction of the United States”).
33
sovereign has in regulating the private property situated in its own
territory without extending the reach of American law or
discriminating against foreign plaintiffs.61 Accordingly, our holding
reduces the possibility of international discord.
We also draw guidance from the approach taken by the
Restatement (Second) of Conflicts of Laws in resolving substantive
choice‐of‐law issues in the context of trans‐jurisdictional torts,
specifically torts involving “Injuries to Tangible Things.”62 The
Second Restatement’s presumptive choice‐of‐law rule regarding
“Injuries to Tangible Things” directs that “the local law of the state
where the injury occurred to the tangible thing will usually be applied to
determine most issues involving the tort . . . on the rare occasions
when conduct and the resulting injury to the thing occur in different
states.”63 Our holding, treating injuries involving tangible property
located within the jurisdiction of the United States as “domestic,”
accords with that presumptive rule.
61 See Frick v. Com. of Pennsylvania, 268 U.S. 473, 492–93 (1925) (“A nation
within whose territory any personal property is actually situate has as entire
dominion over it while therein, in point of sovereignty and jurisdiction, as it has
over immovable property situate there. It may regulate its transfer, and subject it
to process and execution, and provide for and control the uses and disposition of
it, to the same extent that it may exert its authority over immovable property.”
(internal quotation marks omitted)).
62 Restatement (Second) of Conflicts of Laws §§ 145, 147 (1971); see
generally Christopher A. Whytock, Myth or Mess? International Choice of Law in
Action, 84 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 719, 724–30 (2009) (discussing the development of
choice of law doctrine in the United States).
63 Restatement (Second) of Conflicts of Laws § 147 cmt. e
34
We consider that rule to be an appropriate reference for
determining the location of Bascuñán’s alleged injuries because the
interests considered by the Second Restatement mirror the concerns
underlying the presumption against extraterritoriality. The Second
Restatement explains that “[t]he rights and liabilities of the parties
with respect to an issue in tort are determined by the local law of the
state which, with respect to that issue, has the most significant
relationship to the occurrence and the parties under the principles
stated in § 6.”64 Those principles include, among others, “the needs
of the . . . international system[ ],” “the relevant policies of other
interested states and the relative interests of those states in the
determination of the particular issue,” and “the protection of
justified expectations.”65
Elsaca’s principal counterarguments are unpersuasive.
First, Elsaca argues that our rule is inappropriate here because
Bascuñán’s alleged injuries are a special type of property injury: an
injury to financial property. He argues that “different rules may apply
in cases involving damage to a business or non‐financial property,
such as real‐estate or chattels,” than apply when the alleged damage
is to financial property.66 This suggested distinction between
financial and non‐financial property is unhelpful in the
64 Id. § 145.
65 Id. § 6(2).
66 Defendants’ Brief 29.
35
circumstances presented here. The fact that the property at issue was
money, rather than real property or chattels, is of no moment.
Bascuñán plausibly alleged that the funds stolen were held in a
specific and identifiable bank account in New York. In that sense,
the Afghan Trust resembled real property or chattels in the only way
relevant to our decision—that is, the trust funds could be located
within the jurisdiction of the United States at all times relevant to the
complaint. Elsaca cannot change that critical fact simply by labeling
Bascuñán’s injury “financial.”
Next, Elsaca relies on Atlantica Holdings to argue that “a
residence‐based rule [ ] conforms with this Court’s approach to
determining where a plaintiff has allegedly suffered a financial
injury for purposes of other federal statutes.”67 Based on the
circumstances presented here, however, we hold that our Atlantica
Holdings decision is inapposite.68
In that case, U.S. plaintiffs brought securities fraud claims
against entities from Kazakhstan, alleging that the defendants
drastically misrepresented the value of shares that the plaintiffs had
purchased.69 In considering whether the plaintiffs had alleged a
direct effect for purposes of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act,
we relied there, too, on choice‐of‐law rules for torts (albeit the First
67 Id. at 26.
68 813 F.3d 98 (2d Cir. 2016).
69 Id. at 102–06.
36
Restatement), and held that there was a “direct effect” in the United
States because that was where the plaintiffs resided.70 Although we
looked to the plaintiffs’ residence in Altantica Holdings, we do not
think a similar method is appropriate here because of the different
property interests at issue. The injury alleged in Atlantica Holdings
involved the diminished value of ownership interest in a company,
for which the clear locational nexus was the shareholder’s place of
residence. On the contrary, Bascuñán alleged an injury—the theft of
specific assets from bank accounts located in New York—for which
the locus of the injury is clearly domestic.
Finally, Elsaca argues that conflict‐of‐laws rules, of which
New York’s borrowing statute is a part and on which the District
Court relied, provide an appropriate framework for analyzing civil
RICO’s domestic injury requirement precisely because “they serve
the same policies as the presumption against extraterritoriality.”71
We agree with the general proposition that the “most important
function” of conflict‐of‐laws rules, like the presumption against
extraterritoriality, “is to make the interstate and international
systems work well,”72 but the particular conflict‐of‐law rule relied on
by Elsaca and the District Court is inapposite.
70 Id. at 108–111 (2d Cir. 2016).
71 Defendants’ Brief 23.
72 Id. (quoting Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws § 6 cmt. d).
37
New York’s “borrowing statute”—part of that state’s choiceof‐
law rules regarding claim accrual—is designed to protect
defendants from suits that would be barred by shorter statutes of
limitations in other jurisdictions where a plaintiff could have
brought suit.73 It does not account for the interest a foreign sovereign
may have in the application (or not) of a particular jurisdiction’s
substantive or remedial law.74 In contrast, the substantive choice‐oflaws
rules set forth in the Second Restatement, the goal of which is
to select the law with the most significant relationship to the legal
issues and parties before the court, consider a range of factors to
identify the appropriate law.75 Those conflict‐of‐laws rules do protect
the interest of foreign jurisdictions. That is, in part, why we
considered the substantive conflict‐of‐laws rule applicable to
“Injuries to Tangible Things” to be helpful in determining whether
Bascuñán’s alleged injuries were foreign or domestic.76
73 See Sack v. Low, 478 F.2d 360, 367 (2d Cir. 1973) (observing that
“the policy behind the borrowing statute is to protect New York residentdefendants
from suits in New York that would be barred by shorter statutes of
limitations in other states where non‐resident‐plaintiffs could have brought
suit”).
74 See RJR Nabisco, 136 S. Ct. at 2100 (explaining that one of the several
reasons for the presumption against extraterritoriality is that “it serves to avoid
the international discord that can result when U.S. law is applied to conduct in
foreign countries”).
75 See Restatement (Second) of Conflicts of Laws §§ 6, 145.
76 See id. §§ 145, 147.
38
To be clear, we do not hold that a plaintiff’s place of residence
is never relevant to the domestic injury inquiry required by RJR
Nabisco. A plaintiff’s residence may often be relevant—perhaps even
dispositive—in determining whether certain types of business or
property injuries constitute a domestic injury. But with respect to the
particular type of property injury alleged here—the
misappropriation of Bascuñán’s trust funds from a specific bank
account located in the United States—we conclude that the location
of the property and not the residency of the plaintiff is the
dispositive factor.
2. The BCI Share Theft
In light of the foregoing, the question presented with respect
to the BCI Share Theft is whether the misappropriation of the bearer
shares, located in a safety deposit box in New York, also constitutes
the misappropriation of tangible property. We conclude it does.
Importantly, Bascuñán does not allege that Elsaca’s RICO
activity caused a drop in the economic value of these shares.77 He
contends instead that these shares were, in effect, stolen—physically
stolen—from a safety deposit box in New York. Bearer shares are a
form of stock “that has no recorded ownership information.”78 As a
77 The bearer shares at issue did not represent Bascuñán’s 1.47%
ownership interest in BCI. Instead, the bearer shares that Elsaca allegedly stole
represented one Estate entity’s (Hofstra’s) ownership over another Estate entity
(Tarascona). Tarascona, in turn, directly controlled the shares making up
Bascuñán’s stake in BCI.
78 BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 1642 (10th Ed. 2014).
39
result, “the physical bearer of the stock certificate is presumed to be
the owner.”79 It is thus fair to say that, by fraudulently taking
possession of the bearer shares (i.e., by taking them from the New
York safety deposit box), Elsaca defrauded Bascuñán out of his
interest in BCI. At the motion to dismiss stage, that is enough to
plausibly allege an injury to tangible property within the United
States, and thus a “domestic injury” within the meaning of the civil
RICO statute.
CONCLUSION
To summarize, we hold:
(1) The fact that a defendant used bank accounts located
within the United States to facilitate or conceal the theft of
property located outside of the United States, on its own,
does not establish that a civil RICO plaintiff has suffered a
domestic injury;
(2) The misappropriation of tangible property located in the
United States, on the other hand, causes a “domestic
injury” for purposes of civil RICO, even if the owner of the
property resides abroad. Bascuñán’s alleged injuries
involving the misappropriation of trust funds held in a
bank account in New York, and the theft of bearer shares
from a safety deposit box also located in New York, were
79 Id.
40
domestic. The District Court thus erred in dismissing
Bascuñán’s Amended Complaint on the grounds that he
alleged only foreign injuries;
(3) Because it was based on the same legal error, the District
Court’s order denying Bascuñán’s motion for leave to file a
second amended complaint must be vacated. In the event
that Bascuñán seeks leave to file another amended
complaint, the District Court should determine, in light of
our ruling, whether any such amendment is futile.

Outcome: For the reasons set out above, we REVERSE the District
Court’s order granting Elsaca’s motion to dismiss, we VACATE the
District Court’s order denying Bascuñán’s motion for leave to file a
second amended complaint, and we REMAND the cause for further
proceedings consistent with this opinion.

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