Extraterritorial Application of Rico: Protecting U.S. Markets in a Global Economy

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) was enacted by Congress in 1970 to combat organized crime in America. Since its enactment, it has been used extensively in both the civil and criminal arenas. With the participation of foreign corporations, foreign subsidiaries, and foreign actors in general in the U.S. economy, it is only a matter of time before foreign defendants will be sued under RICO. This Note will discuss whether RICO should be applied extraterritorially: that is, whether federal courts should assume jurisdiction over foreign entities as defendants in RICO claims. First, RICO’s language, legislative history and application by the courts will be examined. Second, other areas of the law in which extraterritorial applications have been considered by the courts will be discussed, including antitrust, securities, employment, and environmental laws. Finally, RICO will be examined in light of the current jurisprudential context as created in these other areas. This analysis will suggest that RICO, based on its underlying intent and its relation to other areas of the law, should apply extraterritorially, but only after thorough consideration has been given to concerns of international comity.