NEW YORK, April 23 A U.S. appeals court has
revived a lawsuit by 26 European countries that accused R.J.
Reynolds Tobacco and related entities of running a global
money-laundering scheme with organized crime groups.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York said a
lower court judge erred in concluding that a U.S.
anti-racketeering law, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt
Organizations (RICO) statute, cannot apply to foreign
enterprises or to conduct outside the United States.
"With respect to a number of offenses that constitute
predicates for RICO liability and are alleged in this case,
Congress has clearly manifested an intent that they apply
extraterritorially," Circuit Judge Pierre Leval wrote for a
unanimous three-judge panel. "As to the other alleged offenses,
the complaint alleges sufficiently important domestic activity
to come within RICO's coverage."
Several defendants were named, including R.J. Reynolds
Tobacco's parent Reynolds American Inc. The 2nd Circuit
sent the case back to the lower court for further proceedings.
Lawyers for the European countries did not immediately
respond to requests for comment. Reynolds American and lawyers
for the defendants did not immediately respond to similar
The case is European Community v. RJR Nabisco Inc et al, 2nd
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 11-2475.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Andrea