Below are selected summaries of FARA advisory opinions pursuant to 28 C.F.R. § 5.2. Please note that these summaries, and the guidance they provide, are for informational purposes only and do not have the force of law. The legal provisions of FARA, which are set forth in the statute (22 U.S.C. § 611 et seq.) and regulations (28 C.F.R. Part 5), are legally binding and govern the activities described in these summaries. For further information please contact the FARA Registration Unit at FARA.Public@usdoj.gov or by telephone at (202) 233-0776.
Request: A company is engaged in economic development activity within the United States on behalf of a local jurisdiction of a foreign government. Does this company or its representative have an obligation to register?
Opinion: Promoting economic investment on behalf of a foreign government, including a foreign local government, is considered “political activity” as that term is defined in 22 U.S.C. § 611(o) of FARA in that such activity attempts to influence a section of the public within the United States with reference to the public interests of the foreign country. Disseminating information within the United States on behalf of a foreign government, including local jurisdictions, in an effort to attract investment in any country other than the United States is considered disseminating “informational materials.” Consequently, registration under FARA is required, and the dissemination of informational materials must contain a disclaimer as described in 22 U.S.C. § 614 of the Act.
Request: Whether a company promoting tourism on behalf of foreign government-owned tourism authorities is required to register under FARA.
Opinion: Because the company will be acting as an agent of a foreign principal pursuant to Section 611 (c)(l)(ii) of FARA, it is required to register. In order to qualify for the commercial exception under 613(d)(l ), the company’s activities must be both private and nonpolitical. Promoting tourism on behalf of a foreign government through press releases, seminars, advertising, and the like cannot be construed as private and nonpolitical activities. On the contrary, tourism creates an influx of capital and additional jobs for the indigenous population, both of which are in the political or public interest of the foreign country. Therefore, registration is required.
Request: A firm is retained by a foreign government to prepare for litigation in the United States, the purpose of which is to recover money owed to the foreign government under commercial contracts. The firm has been working with federal law enforcement agencies in connection with an ongoing investigation related to the recovery of the money. Is the firm obligated to register?
Opinion: The firm may claim exemptions from registration provided in 22 U.S.C.§§ 613(d)(1) and (g) for its legal advice and representation of the foreign government in connection with the litigation. However, these exemptions would not apply if the firm’s representation later expanded to include political consulting or activity including lobbying or public relations.