Case Studies

Roberto Bendana McEwan: INTERPOL Red Notice


Mr. Bendaña McEwan, a US citizen, is a successful businessman working in the coffee industry in Nicaragua, where he was born and raised.

As well as his business, he had previously led and been involved in a number of civil society groups in Nicaragua, many of which encouraged active participation in national politics through educating the electorate. One such group was Hagamos Democracia (Let’s Make Democracy), a non-profit organisation, among the first to condemn the 2011 Nicaraguan presidential elections as fraudulent. Among other actions undertaken alongside different civil society leaders, Mr. Bendaña McEwan staged a hunger strike to draw attention to the matter and travelled to the United States to visit with U.S. government and Organization of American States’ (OAS) officials.

In September 2013, Mr. Bendaña McEwan was charged with aggravated fraud and fraudulent offer of effects of receivables and was placed under house arrest with his assets frozen. His preliminary hearing was due in October but never occurred and three days prior a new charge was added; ‘organised crime’. All charges related to International Investments and Financial Services, Inc. (‘IIFS’), where Mr. Bendaña McEwan was director/president during a transition period between June and August 2009, after which he ceased all involvement in the company. The charges, however, relate to activities which took place on 1 October 2011, and 7 July 2012. His lawyers argue that he had not been associated with IIFS since 11 August 2009. Fearing the charges were politically motivated, Mr. Bendaña McEwan escaped house arrest in Nicaragua and arrived in the United States in December 2013.

On 2 January 2014, the Nicaraguan government requested an INTERPOL Red Notice for Mr. Bendaña McEwan’s arrest. The Nicaraguan government reportedly requested the Red Notice on the basis he was wanted for: (1) Aggravated scam; (2) Fraudulent Offer of Effects of Receivables; (3) Organized Crime; and (4) Violation of Injunction.

After repeated efforts to communicate with Nicaraguan officials went unanswered, in March 2014, Mr. Bendaña McEwan, through his lawyer in Washington, D.C. submitted a preliminary request to the Commission for the Control of Interpol’s Files (CCF) in Lyon for access to his personal information stored on INTERPOL’s files. In November 2014, his American lawyer submitted a request for deletion to the CCF based on, but not limited to, violations by Nicaragua of Article 2 and Article 3 of the INTERPOL Constitution as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

According to Mr. Bendaña McEwan’s Nicaraguan Counsel, the original charges have been dropped as part of a settlement process, brokered by the government, however, if he re-enters the country, they would be, in essence, re-charged. Despite this he remains on the Red Notice list and neither the Nicaraguan embassy in Washington, D.C. nor INTERPOL have cooperated to remove his details. In June 2015, two of Nicaragua’s leading and independent human rights organisations issued a legal opinion that Mr. Bendaña McEwan’s matter lacked transparency, due process, and is one of many cases of abuse of judicial process in Nicaragua.