The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that the FBI acted unlawfully in March 2021, when it raided hundreds of renters’ safe deposit boxes in Beverly Hills, conducted criminal searches of them all, and attempted to permanently keep everything in the boxes worth more than $5,000—all without charging any box renter with a crime.
The 9th Circuit’s Tuesday decision stems from an investigation the FBI opened into US Private Vaults, or USPV—a company that, unlike typical banks, provided safe deposit boxes to customers without requiring identification. The FBI had been investigating individual USPV customers, but determined the “real problem” was USPV, which they believed served as a “money laundering facilitator.”
Accordingly, the FBI raided the entire USPV vault in 2021.
The Justice Department then filed a massive administrative forfeiture claim to take more than $100 million in cash and other valuables, again, without charging any individual with a crime, the IJ added.