Succession returned on Sunday night with more of what we’ve come to expect: affectionate swearing, major business decisions being dictated by complex psychosexual dynamics and millionaires treating private helicopters like they’re Uber Xs.
There was one surprising guest star, though: the Bosnian capital – where the media kingpin Logan Roy decides to hide out in a distinctly unglamorous airport hotel. It initially seems like an odd choice to his family, until Shiv points out that Bosnia-Herzegovina has no extradition treaty with the US. While Logan is still in control, his decision to fly there is a silent admission that he’s scared he might be running out of options.
But are things that simple: can a global tycoon who fears arrest just disappear to another country? And what sunshine paradises are available to the discerning billionaire, should the heat of the law become unbearable?
“If the question is whether an individual with significant means could seek to lawyer up and place himself in a jurisdiction that would maximise the possibility of avoiding extradition then yes, this is possible and indeed likely,” says Thomas Garner, a partner at Fladgate law firm who specializes in extradition law.
There are countless high-profile fugitives living abroad, including Julian Assange, Mike Lynch and Edward Snowden. “Probably the longest-standing high-profile fugitive would be Roman Polanski. He’s been ‘on the run’ from the US since 1978 and has managed to live a comfortable and productive life on the lam in France thanks to his French nationality and the fact that France won’t extradite its own nationals.”
Logan was also lucky to have been able to escape the country in luxury, on one of a fleet of private planes. “While not involving the US, the case of Carlos Ghosn was probably the most spectacular recent example of a determined high-net-worth individual planning and executing an escape which involved him being smuggled out of Japan in a box on a private jet. He’s now in Lebanon, where he is safe from extradition to Japan.”
Things are not that simple for Logan: just because Bosnia doesn’t have an extradition treaty doesn’t mean it wouldn’t extradite him if the US wanted Logan to return.
“The US is a relentless and notoriously aggressive extradition partner. Its prosecutors have a famously long reach,” says Garner. “People often talk about non-extradition countries – in reality the lack of a treaty is no barrier to extradition if a country wishes to cooperate with the US. It is relatively common for countries to enter into bespoke one-off agreements with states in order to secure the extradition of a high-profile target. However, there are also several regimes who are opposed to the US or who may see political capital in shielding a fugitive. The issue with this sort of strategy is that you are at the mercy of the state who is protecting you. If Putin decides there is political capital in handing over Snowden to the US, then it is game over, and when Ecuador tired of Assange, he was soon out of the embassy and in Wandsworth prison.”
The episode also sees Logan battling with his son over who will retain the services of the lawyer Lisa Arthur (a fictional stand-in for Gloria Allred, one may assume) in order to fight the cover-up of allegations. However, when it comes to his personal liability, Logan might have to return to the US to fight any case brought against him.
“One peculiar feature of the US justice system is something called the fugitive disentitlement doctrine,” explains Garner. “This means that an individual is barred from fighting his case remotely – in practice, this hinders substantive applications being made in respect of the allegations or case until they return to the US.
“I’ve seen this manifest itself in particularly unfair ways. One client had what appeared to be a knockout blow to the allegations but a judge refused to consider an application to dismiss the proceedings until he returned to the US, where he would inevitably have been detained for months pending the resolution of the matter. The US authorities are very aggressive and determined when it comes to pursuing defendants overseas. They proactively build cases against individuals, using informants and cooperating witnesses.”
One remaining mystery is why Logan would choose to head to the Balkans rather than somewhere with warmer weather and more six-star hotel suites: neither the Maldives nor Indonesia has an extradition treaty with the US. And in the real world, Bosnia-Herzegovina and the US have some historical agreements.
The decision might have been an artistic one. Sarajevo is where Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated and more recently the site of one of the bloodiest civil wars in recent history.
As Logan spends most of the episode shouting “It’s war!” and “We’ll fucking beast ’em!”, the location might be more of a nod to the beginning of a vicious and drawn-out battle.