FARA Advisory Opinion Index

The Department of Justice is authorized under 28 C.F.R. § 5.2 to issue advisory opinions that apply the Foreign Agents Registration Act to contemplated activities of potential “agents.”  In 2018, the Department began publishing the advisory opinions in redacted form.  The Index below, which includes a summary of each opinion that has been made public, is organized in reverse chronological order.

Advisory Opinion DateSummary DescriptionFARA Exemptions ReferencedRequestor TypePotential Foreign Principal TypeRegistration Required?
9/18/2019A U.S. public relations firm considered an engagement with a foreign corporation that was “incorporated to manage assets held by” a foreign government and was owned by the foreign government’s finance ministry. The foreign corporation was controlled by a board of private sector individuals whose appointments were made by the foreign government’s finance minister and assented to by the president of the foreign country. The firm proposed to advise the foreign corporation on “investment strategies” by “contacting U.S. Government officials to gather information about the position of the U.S. Government on potential cross-border investments or transactions.” The FARA Unit concluded that, although the U.S. firm would not include any effort “to advocate for or against any policy or transaction,” the firm would be acting as an “agent” simply by appearing before a U.S. Government official, as contemplated in part of the “agent” definition found at 22 U.S.C. 611(c)(1)(iv). The FARA Unit also concluded that the U.S. firm did not qualify for the “commercial activities” exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(d)(1) or for the “activities not serving predominantly a foreign interest” exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(d)(2) because the foreign corporation’s commercial activities “directly promoted the public or political interests of a foreign government.” The foreign corporation’s interests, the FARA Unit explained, were “inextricably connected to the public interest of the [foreign government] because … its core function is to generate funds for the [foreign government].” The FARA Unit explained that the foreign corporation was “a type of sovereign wealth fund” and “not a commercial business that happens to be state owned,” making it ineligible for the two FARA registration exemptions. Finally, the FARA Unit expressed the opinion that the U.S. firm’s proposed representation of the foreign corporation would benefit the foreign government’s interests because engagement with U.S. officials “would directly aid [foreign government]’s decision-making and improve its standing in the eyes of those officials.”Commercial Activities Exemption (613(d)(1)); Not Serving Predominantly A Foreign Interest Exemption (613(d)(2))U.S. Public Relations FirmForeign State-Owned Enterprise; Foreign GovernmentYes
8/27/2019A U.S. individual “and a group of friends” intended to start a “group in the United States to engage in social and political activities, such as holding political and social conferences and meetings, contacting political officials to advocate … opinions concerning [foreign country], seeking support and raising funds from U.S. citizens to support [the] group, and transmitting satellite TV broadcasts to [foreign country].” The individual stipulated that the group did not have any connection to any foreign individual or entity. Based on that stipulation, the FARA Unit concluded that registration was unnecessary.U.S. IndividualsN/ANo
7/10/2019A U.S. public relations firm was retained by three U.S. nonprofit organizations on projects originally funded by a foreign government. The projects were “limited to affecting the commercial decisions of U.S. and global companies with regard to their sourcing of [products] abroad” through private meetings and consumer-awareness campaigns. The FARA Unit concluded that the U.S. public relations firm constituted “political activities” on behalf of a foreign principal because: (1) a U.S. company qualifies as “any section of the public within the United States”; and (2) a U.S. company’s supply chain and product sourcing practices were a “political and public interest of” a foreign government in this circumstance.U.S. Public Relations FirmU.S. Non-ProfitsYes
5/9/2019A U.S. communications consultancy represented a foreign non-profit that was not owned, controlled, financed, or subsidized by a foreign government.  The foreign non-profit retained the U.S. consultancy for the purpose of supporting a former foreign government official’s candidacy for a United Nations position.  The representation did not involve outreach to U.S. government officials, government agencies, or media outlets.  Any public communications and public relations activities related to the candidacy were targeted to a non-U.S. audience.  The FARA Unit concluded that although the U.S. consultancy was “generating work product in and from the United States through its communications and public relations efforts on behalf of its foreign principal,” registration was not required because the consultancy did not meet with U.S. government or media and because public communications targeted “only a non-U.S. audience.”U.S. Public Relations FirmForeign Non-ProfitNo
4/11/2019An individual worked as a consultant for the U.S. branch of a foreign government’s communications office.  The consultant’s work was to initiate discussions with U.S. media, wireless, and renewable energy companies in an effort to convince them to open offices in the foreign country.  The FARA Unit concluded that the consultant was required to register because he/she was acting under contract as an “information-service employee” by talking with U.S. companies about opening offices in the foreign country.  The FARA Unit also mentioned that the consultant’s activities would qualify as “political activities” under the law.  Finally, the FARA Unit noted that the consultant could not qualify for the “commercial activities” exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(d)(1) because the activities were not “private” or for its “sister” exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(d)(2) because the activities were undertaken directly for the foreign government.Commercial Activities Exemption (613(d)(1)); Not Serving Predominantly A Foreign Interest Exemption (613(d)(2));U.S. IndividualForeign GovernmentYes
4/4/2019A principal of a U.S. public relations firm simultaneously served as the president of a coalition of U.S. nonprofit organizations “dedicated to improving the welfare of” a specific ethnic diaspora, “through its mission to improve the United States’ long-term security interests in its relations with [foreign countries].”  The coalition published commentary, convened discussions among Americans of the ethnicity, and advising foreign officials about U.S. policy.  The coalition also engaged “with U.S. policymakers regarding [foreign country] security, trade, and other issues.”  The public relations firm had already registered on behalf of the coalition under the Lobbying Disclosure Act.  The FARA Unit rejected the requestors’ assertion that they were “not acting as foreign agents because their activities are not undertaken at the direction and control of the [foreign government],” finding that FARA registration was necessary and that the Lobbying Disclosure Act exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(h) was in applicable.  The FARA Unit’s finding appeared in large part to hinge on a $160,000 payment from the foreign government to the U.S. public relations firm.  The FARA Unit concluded that, although the coalition itself had not accepted any money from a foreign government, the payment to the U.S. public relations firm “established an agency relationship under FARA” for both entities because money was “received from a foreign government to subsidize ongoing political activities that [were] relevant and beneficial to that government.”  The FARA Unit disregarded the distinction between the coalition (which had not received foreign-government money) and the public relations firm (which had received foreign-government money) because the two organizations shared common top leadership.  The FARA Unit also remarked that “direction or control” by a foreign government were unnecessary because it would have been enough for the coalition and public relations firm to act at the “request” of the foreign government.  Finally, the FARA Unit disallowed the use of the Lobbying Disclosure Act exemption because it found that a foreign government was the “foreign principal” for the underlying work.  Accordingly, the coalition and the public relations firm were required to register under FARA.Lobbying Disclosure Act Exemption (613(h))U.S. Public Relations Firm; U.S. Non-ProfitForeign GovernmentYes
4/2/2019An individual in the United States intended to “accept an appointment as an honorary ambassador” of a foreign government.  The individual stated that he “would not be engaging within the United States in any of the activities enumerated in the Act that require registration.”  The FARA Unit concluded that registration was not required, but cautioned that the individual would likely be required to register if he “does engage with any U.S. government officials or the American public to advocate” on behalf of the foreign government.U.S. IndividualForeign GovernmentNo
3/27/2019 (A)A U.S. public relations firm held preliminary discussions with a foreign government to potentially engage in lobbying on the government’s behalf.  The firm engaged in “research to determine whether it was feasible…to work on [the foreign government’s] behalf” and encountered several Congressional Record statements about the foreign government made by Members of Congress.  The firm asked the FARA Unit whether “inquiring of these Members of Congress about their Congressional Records Statements would require registration under FARA.”  The FARA Unit concluded that such inquiries would not trigger registration, so long as the firm limited its activities to “merely conducting research about [foreign country]” and did not use the inquiries as a way of influencing Members or their staffs on behalf of the foreign government.U.S. Public Relations FirmForeign GovernmentNo
3/27/2019 (B)The FARA Unit declined to issue an advisory opinion to an unknown party because the review request involved only past conduct.  The FARA Unit did note, however, that “a person who engages in speeches at U.S. college or university campuses on behalf of a foreign government may have an obligation to register under FARA” if they engage in “political activity.”  The FARA Unit also mentioned that “a person who informs or advises a foreign government about the domestic or foreign policies of the United States may have an obligation to register under FARA as a ‘political consultant.’”UnknownForeign GovernmentN/A
3/26/2019An individual in the United States proposed serving as a consultant for a foreign government embassy official.  The proposed consulting agreement stated that the consultant’s duties would be to “communicate” with local government entities in the U.S., to “participate in building strong and efficient relationships between the [foreign government] and the United States,” to exchange “best practices through participation in conferences,” and to “facilitate and arrange visits” to U.S. government officials by foreign embassy officials and by industry representatives from the foreign country.  The FARA Unit found that registration was unnecessary due to the application of the “diplomatic personnel” exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(c), which is available for those who are “employed by” an accredited diplomatic or consular official of a foreign government, if three conditions are met: (1) the agent’s name, status, and duties are “of public record” at the U.S. Department of State; (2) the agent engages “exclusively in the performance of activities which are recognized by the Department of States as being within the scope” of a diplomatic/consular employee; and (3) the agent dos not acts as a “public relations counsel,” a “publicity agent,” or an “information-service employee,” as those terms are defined under FARA.  The FARA Unit did not provide additional information about the contours of U.S. Department of State restrictions or address whether interacting with government officials or participating in conferences could potentially constitute acting as a “public relations counsel,” a “publicity agent,” or an “information-service employee.”Diplomatic Personnel Exemption 613(c)U.S. IndividualForeign GovernmentNo
3/22/2019A U.S. public relations firm wanted to represent a wholly owned U.S. subsidiary of a foreign company “on federal legislative and regulatory issues affecting the U.S. operations of” the U.S. subsidiary’s business.  The representation would include “lobbying contacts with members of Congress and their staff” as well as communications “with officials at federal regulatory agencies,” all of which would be directed by the U.S. subsidiary’s U.S. executive team.  In its request, the U.S. public relations firm stipulated that the foreign parent of the U.S. subsidiary was a “foreign principal” under FARA and that the proposed representation would constitute “political activity.”  The U.S. public relations firm also noted that it would register for its work under the Lobbying Disclosure Act.  In cursory fashion, the FARA Unit noted that it would “not contest that the proposed activities qualify for the exemption from registration under FARA pursuant to Section 613(d)(2),” which covers activities that are “not serving predominantly a foreign interest.”  The FARA Unit did not discuss whether the Lobbying Disclosure Act exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(h) was applicable.Not Serving Predominantly A Foreign Interest Exemption (613(d)(2)); Lobbying Disclosure Act Exemption (613(h))U.S. Public Relations FirmU.S. Company (Subsidiary of Foreign Company)No
3/20/2019A U.S. consultancy specializing in national security matters was in negotiations with a foreign pension plan board to advocate on its behalf before the U.S. government (e.g. Congress, U.S. Treasury, Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States) with respect to recently enacted U.S. legislation.  The foreign pension plan was created by a foreign government law but funded exclusively by private contributions.  The foreign pension plan board acted “independent” of the foreign government and owed their fiduciary duty to pensioners, but board members were appointed by the foreign government.  The FARA Unit noted that the consultancy would need to register “[a]bsent an exemption” and then analyzed the representation under the Lobbying Disclosure Act exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(h).  The FARA Unit found that the exemption applied to the representation because the foreign pension board was not a foreign government because the foreign government was not “the principal beneficiary” of the representation, due to the board’s independence from the foreign government.  Finally, the FARA Unit mentioned that the exemption’s availability was “premised upon [the] timely filing of a registration under the LDA.”Lobbying Disclosure Act Exemption (613(h))U.S. Public Relations FirmForeign Pension PlanNo
12/13/2018A U.S. individual served as an officer and political advisor for a foreign political party.  The individual, among other things, engaged in the following activities within the United States: (1) “provided counsel and follow-up to the [foreign political party] regarding invitations sent to Members of the U.S. Congress” to attend an event; (2) “drafted two resolutions … the subject of which would be of political interest to the United States as well as [foreign region]”; (3) “accompanied” a foreign political party official “to attend congressional meetings and other events in Washington, D.C.”; and (4) organized briefings, formulated talking points, and provided “logistical assistance.”  The FARA Unit decided that these activities triggered FARA registration because the individual conducted “political activities and acted as a “political consultant” for the foreign political party.  Finally, the FARA Unit noted that although certain activities were “organized in cooperation with various organizations in the United States, it does not relieve [individual] of his obligation to register under FARA.”U.S. IndividualForeign Political PartyYes
11/15/2018Two U.S. companies contracted with foreign-government embassies for: (1) wholesale distribution of products to global wholesalers, distributors, and retailers; (2) guidance related to “investment opportunities in companies in the United States and/or in the American Economic Opportunity Zones pursuant to all U.S. federal guidelines and statutes; and (3) buying, selling, hauling, and delivering products to certain companies.  The companies asserted that they were eligible for the “commercial activities” exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(d)(1).  The FARA Unit, in cursory fashion, concluded that FARA registration was unnecessary because the companies’ activities “do not fall within the specified activities set forth in 22 U.S.C. 611(c) that would require registration under FARA.”  The FARA Unit did not comment on the potential applicability of the exemption.Commercial Activities Exemption (613(d)(1))U.S. CompanyForeign GovernmentNo
11/6/2018A U.S. consultancy was retained by a foreign company to assist in the promotion of an annual industry conference that was held in a foreign country, hosted by a foreign state-owned enterprise, and sponsored by a mix of private companies, state-owned enterprises, and foreign government agencies.  The U.S. consultancy was specifically hired to serve as a liaison with media outlets internationally and to hold promotional events with industry leaders across the world, including those in the United States.  The FARA Unit noted that the U.S. consultancy would be acting as a “publicity agent” and fit the statutory definition of “agent of a foreign principal.”  The FARA Unit also reasoned that the “commercial activities exemption” at 22 U.S.C. 613(d)(1) was inapplicable because some conference promotion activities were “inherently political in nature” (e.g. authoring op-eds by foreign government officials) and indirectly promoted the public/political interests of the foreign government.  However, the FARA Unit found that registration was unnecessary because the U.S. consultancy did qualify for the broader “activities not serving predominantly a foreign interest” exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(d)(2), which allows for the performance of “political activities” and work that only indirectly promotes the interests of a foreign government or a foreign political party.  In reaching this conclusion, the FARA Unit emphasized that any benefits from the work that accrued to the foreign government would be only "indirect and incidental” and therefore eligible for the exemption, as long as the foreign government refrained from directing any of the U.S. consultancy’s activities.Commercial Activities Exemption (613(d)(1)); Not Serving Predominantly A Foreign Interest Exemption (613(d)(2))U.S. Public Relations FirmForeign Company; Foreign State-Owned EnterpriseNo
10/25/2018A U.S. company was a wholly owned subsidiary of a foreign company, which was owned in equal one-third shares by a foreign government, another foreign government, and a private foreign corporation.  The U.S. subsidiary was registered under FARA as an “agent” of its foreign parent company.  However, the U.S. subsidiary inquired as to whether it was eligible for the “activities not serving predominantly a foreign interest” exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(d)(2) and could deregister even while responding to a Department of Commerce investigation into its foreign parent.  The FARA Unit concluded that the U.S. subsidiary was indeed eligible for the “activities not serving predominantly a foreign interest” exemption while offering little analysis.Not Serving Predominantly A Foreign Interest Exemption (613(d)(2))U.S. CompanyForeign Company (Owned by Foreign Government)No
10/19/2018A U.S. media consultancy proposed several specific activities critical of a foreign government.  One such activity was to ask a foreign ambassador to the United States to seek funding to promote democracy in the foreign country.  The FARA Unit concluded that this activity was not registrable because the “solicitation of funds was made to a foreign party and the funds solicited were to be spent outside the United States.  One of the other activities discussed was a series of paid speaking appearances about the status of the foreign country’s human rights record that were “sponsored by” a U.S. non-profit “in support of” a foreign political party.  The FARA Unit found that the speaking appearances in the U.S. would trigger registration only if the activities were paid for by the foreign political party or if the U.S. non-profit was otherwise “acting in any way on behalf of” the foreign political party.  Finally, the FARA Unit reviewed whether generic “pro-democracy” efforts could trigger registration, but did not provide a meaningful answer.U.S. Public Relations FirmU.S. Non-Profit (Collaborating with Foreign Political Party)No
10/2/2018An entity proposed working with a U.S. law firm in that firm’s representation of a foreign company.  The representation involved the “voluntary self-disclosure” of an unlicensed re-export to a foreign country before the Department of Commerce.  Without articulating any analysis, the FARA Unit concluded that the requestor did “not have an obligation to register under these specific narrow facts.”Legal Representation Exemption (613(g))UnknownU.S. Law Firm (Representing Foreign Company)No
9/7/2018A U.S. law firm proposed working on behalf of a foreign government ministry to improve the foreign government’s ranking in an unknown index of countries.  The U.S. law firm would conduct public records research, interview “international thought leaders,” and provide recommendations to the foreign government.  The FARA Unit opined that the U.S. law firm was not required to register under FARA because it would not advise the foreign government about how to influence members of the U.S. public or on U.S. policy, and because the work would not involve distributing any documents to U.S. persons.U.S. Law FirmForeign GovernmentNo
8/15/2018A U.S. public relations firm represented a private foreign company that had been retained by a foreign government to strengthen economic relations between that government and the United States.  The U.S. public relations firm also simultaneously represented the foreign government directly, with the same personnel performing work under both the foreign company and the foreign government contracts.  The U.S. public relations firm asserted that its work for the foreign company qualified for the registration exemptions under 22 U.S.C. 613(d).  The FARA Unit disagreed, remarking that the engagement was ineligible for the “commercial activities” exemption because the activities were “not solely commercial in nature but involve some political activities.”  The FARA Unit also found that the engagement was ineligible for the “activities not serving predominantly a foreign interest” exemption because they were intertwined with the foreign government’s public and political interests.  FARA registration for the U.S. firm’s work for the private foreign company was therefore required.Commercial Activities Exemption (613(d)(1)); Not Serving Predominantly A Foreign Interest Exemption (613(d)(2))U.S. Public Relations FirmForeign Company; Foreign GovernmentYes
8/2/2018A U.S. law firm represented a foreign government ministry in a private arbitration proceeding involving contracts that the ministry entered with private entities.  The U.S. government was not a party to the arbitration but a federal agency was investigating certain related transactions and produced a draft report, which the U.S. law firm commented on as “to factual and process issues related directly to the arbitration.”  The FARA Unit found that registration was unnecessary because the U.S. law firm was exempt under the “legal representation” exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(g), given its narrow focus on the private arbitration.Legal Representation Exemption (613(g))U.S. Law FirmForeign GovernmentNo
7/26/2018A U.S. public relations firm was retained to perform “consulting on government relations” by a U.S. joint venture, which was majority-owned by a foreign company and a U.S. company.  A foreign state-owned enterprise also held a 22% interest in the U.S. joint venture and provided a “manufacturing and financial role in supporting” the U.S. joint venture.  The FARA Unit found that the U.S. joint venture was a “foreign principal” under the statute, given its relationship with the foreign state-owned enterprise.  However, the FARA Unit also concluded that FARA registration was unnecessary because the representation was eligible for the “activities not serving predominantly a foreign interest exemption” at 22 U.S.C. 613(d)(2).  The FARA Unit stated that the exemption would apply so long as the U.S. public relations firm was not directed “to engage in political activities that promote the public or political interests of” a foreign country or a foreign political party.Not Serving Predominantly A Foreign Interest Exemption (613(d)(2))U.S. Public Relations FirmU.S. Company (Partly Owned and Supervised by Foreign State-Owned Enterprise)No
7/13/2018A U.S. print media company, in “a business decision based upon anticipated revenue,” created and published a special magazine to coincide with the visit of a foreign government leader.  The U.S. company did not have any contacts with the leader or his/her foreign government and did not accept any “foreign funding” for the publication.  The U.S. company did, however, invite and receive an op-ed from the foreign leader’s advisor for the publication. The U.S. company also provided the advisor with an advance, draft copy of the overall publication and implemented the advisor’s suggested edits, including the replacement of “some photographs with other, more palatable photographs.”  The FARA Unit concluded that registration was not necessary, since the publication was the U.S. media company’s idea and product to control, despite the fact that it sought input from a foreign government advisor.  The FARA Unit seems to have relied heavily on the breadth of a statutory exemption for newspapers, magazines, periodicals, and other publications at 22 U.S.C. 611(d).Media Exemption (611(d))U.S. Media CompanyForeign GovernmentNo
5/3/2018 (A)A U.S. law firm was retained by a private foreign bank and a foreign individual to provide legal services in connection with a potential designation under the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control’s sanctions program.  The U.S. law firm, among other things, wrote a preemptive letter to that Office requesting that it stay any sanctions designations until the firm’s clients could submit information.  The FARA Unit found that the U.S. law firm’s activities were eligible for the “legal representation” exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(g) because its representation focused on the specific application of the sanctions regime to the firm’s clients.Legal Representation Exemption (613(g))U.S. Law FirmForeign Company; Foreign IndividualNo
5/3/2018 (B)A U.S. law firm was retained by a foreign state-owned enterprise to provide legal services in connection with a potential designation under the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control’s sanctions program.  The U.S. law firm, among other things, wrote a preemptive letter to that Office requesting that it stay any sanctions designations until the firm’s client could submit information.  The FARA Unit found that the U.S. law firm’s activities were eligible for the “legal representation” exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(g) because its representation focused on the specific application of the sanctions regime to the firm’s clients.Legal Representation Exemption (613(g))U.S. Law FirmForeign State-Owned EnterpriseNo
4/6/2018A U.S. individual hosted a 30-minute broadcast television “interview and commentary show” from Washington, D.C., five days each week for a U.S. media company registered as a foreign agent “in connection with its production of various television shows” for a foreign state-owned enterprise.  The U.S. individual was an independent contractor to the U.S. media company.  The FARA Unit noted, in its brief analysis, that the “consideration most relevant to our determination that [US person] does not have an obligation to register is … that [US person] does not have a contractual relationship with [foreign state owned company] or other foreign principal.”  The FARA Unit then concluded that registration is unnecessary without offering further explanation.  Please note that this Advisory Opinion’s emphasis on privity of contract may not be reflected in other guidance issues by the FARA Unit.U.S. IndividualU.S. Media Company (Registered as Foreign Agent)No
3/23/2018A U.S. trade association joined as a member of a new international tourism organization based in a foreign country.  The U.S. trade association stipulated that it would “not engage in any activities in an attempt to change or influence U.S. laws or policies.”  The FARA Unit concluded that the U.S. trade association was “not in an agency relationship with” the international tourism organization because its membership was “in furtherance of its mission in supporting [tourism] to the United States and the mutual interests of” the international organization’s members.  Without further analysis, the FARA Unit declared that registration was unnecessary.U.S. Trade AssociationForeign Non-ProfitNo
2/13/2018A U.S. non-profit engaged in a dialogue with the U.S. government and a foreign government to encourage the foreign government to release an incarcerated individual.  To that end, the U.S. non-profit asked U.S. government officials to meet with various foreign government officials.  However, the U.S. non-profit did not have a contractual relationship with the foreign government and did not receive fees for its activities.  In concluding that registration is unnecessary, the FARA Unit simply restated the requestor’s position that a principal-agent relationship did not exist and that the U.S. non-profit appeared to be working solely to release the incarcerated individual.U.S. Non-ProfitForeign GovernmentNo
2/9/2018 (A)A U.S. compliance consulting firm proposed a contract with a U.S. law firm to provide services to the law firm’s client, a foreign country’s central bank.  The U.S. consulting firm would assist the U.S. law firm in the “rendering of legal advice and provision of legal services” by: (1) assessing the foreign central bank’s cyber security programs; (2) evaluating the foreign central bank’s policies and programs concerning anti-money laundering and terrorism finance; (3) communicating, under the direction of the U.S. law firm, with U.S. banks, financial institutions, and government agencies; (4) contacting U.S. banks, financial institutions, and government agencies to demonstrate the foreign central bank’s “suitability for establishing commercial relationships with U.S. financial institutions.”  The FARA Unit found that the representation did not qualify for the “commercial activities” and “activities not serving predominantly a foreign interest” exemptions under 22 U.S.C. 613(d) because the work would “directly promote the public interests” of the foreign country.Commercial Activities Exemption (613(d)(1)); Not Serving Predominantly A Foreign Interest Exemption (613(d)(2))U.S. CompanyU.S. Law Firm; Foreign GovernmentYes
2/9/2018 (B)A U.S. public relations firm was retained by a foreign company to “foster commercial and international investment-related outreach opportunities for private companies and investors” into the United States by: (1) making “senior level introductions” between companies and potential investors; (2) arranging visits for foreign companies’ executives “to explore business opportunities in the U.S.”; (3) analyzing and presenting investment opportunities; (4) engaging subcontractors and partners to ensure maximum value for the foreign company and its clients.  The foreign company did not represent the interests of any foreign country or its government and the work by the U.S. public relations firm was “intended to promote the economic and commercial interests of [foreign corporation] on behalf of its private clients.”  The FARA Unit also concluded that FARA registration was unnecessary because the representation was eligible for the exemptions 22 U.S.C. 613(d).  The FARA Unit stated that the exemptions would apply so long as the U.S. public relations firm was not directed “to engage in political activities that promote the public or political interests of” a foreign country or a foreign political party.Commercial Activities Exemption (613(d)(1)); Not Serving Predominantly A Foreign Interest Exemption (613(d)(2))U.S. Public Relations FirmForeign CompanyNo
2/7/2018A U.S. individual was employed by a U.S. company to provide consulting services to a foreign government related to the formation of a foreign government agency.  The individual would provide advice on best governance practices on economic development and arrange meetings with international organizations, which would include U.S. government officials.  The individual noted that he/she would “focus on the commercial aspects” of an industry and have no role in seeking to influence U.S. government policies.U.S. IndividualU.S. Company (Contractor to Foreign Government)No
1/5/2018A U.S. public relations firm was retained by a U.S. company for government-relations services, including efforts to secure incentive funding and procurement contracts from U.S. government entities.  The U.S. company was owned by a public company, which was then owned by another public company, which in turn was 51.1% owned by a foreign government.  The U.S. public relations firm was registered for its representation of the U.S. company under the Lobbying Disclosure Act.  The FARA Unit concluded that it would “not contest” that the U.S. public relations firm was eligible for the FARA registration exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(h) for Lobbying Disclosure Act registrants.  The FARA Unit explained that, even though that exemption excludes representations where a foreign government is “the principal beneficiary,” the foreign government’s indirect 51.1% ownership interest in the U.S. company would not affect the availability of the exemption as long as the U.S. public relations firm was not “directed to engage in political activities” by the foreign government.Lobbying Disclosure Act Exemption (613(h))U.S. Public Relations FirmU.S. Company (Indirectly Owned by Foreign Government)No
12/21/2017A U.S. public relations firm was retained by a foreign government to “assist with facilitating meetings” for a foreign government official with “private industry leaders in the defense and security markets.”  The FARA Unit found that the activities were “considered commercial in nature” and therefore qualified for the “commercial activities” exemption at 613(d)(1).Commercial Activities Exemption (613(d)(1))U.S. Public Relations FirmForeign GovernmentNo
12/6/2017A U.S. company provided “meeting coordination, relationship facilitation and cross-cultural communications clarification” services to two U.S. firms in connection with their FARA-registered representation of a foreign government.  The contract with the two U.S. firms stipulated that the requestor could not engage in any registrable activity (e.g. influence the U.S. government, publish or distribute materials) and prohibited the requestor “from undertaking any substantive work on behalf of the foreign government, either directly or indirectly…”  The FARA Unit ultimately determined that, so long as the conditions of the contract remained true, the requestor would not need to register.U.S. CompanyU.S. Company (Registered as Foreign Agent)No
10/18/2017A U.S. public relations firm contracted with a foreign company that owns an air cargo facility at a foreign airport to “provide strategic advice and associated services … with the goal of obtaining U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) cargo pre-inspection” for the foreign company’s facility.  The U.S. public relations firm would communicate with U.S. government officials as part of the engagement.  The FARA Unit concluded that, despite contact with a U.S. government official, the representation was eligible for the “commercial activities” exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(d)(1) and registration therefore was unnecessary.  In particular, the FARA Unit reasoned that the representational activities were “nonpolitical” under the exemption because they related to “existing CBP policy and administrative action with respect to approval of pre-inspection locations” in furtherance of a “purely commercial” interest.Commercial Activities Exemption (613(d)(1))U.S. Public Relations FirmForeign CompanyNo
8/10/2017A foreign technology company distributed a proprietary application in partnership with another foreign corporation, which was “under the direction and control or subsidized by” a foreign government.  The foreign technology company intended in the future to “lobby the Congress or federal agencies concerning the acquisition of or the institution of pilot programs” for products produced by the company.  The FARA Unit stated that the foreign technology company was eligible for the “commercial activities” exemption under 22 U.S.C. 613(d)(1) for its regular business activities, but would need to avail itself of the exemption for Lobbying Disclosure Act registrants under 22 U.S.C. 613(h) to avoid FARA registration if the company decided to lobby the U.S. government.  The FARA Unit also noted that the exemption for Lobbying Disclosure Act registrants is available only if a foreign government or foreign political party was not “the principal beneficiary” of the activities.Commercial Activities Exemption (613(d)(1)); Lobbying Disclosure Act Exemption (613(h))Foreign CompanyForeign Company (Affiliated with Foreign Government)No
7/12/2017A U.S. individual planned to serve as a director of a U.S. “security solutions” company that was a subsidiary of a foreign corporation.  The U.S. individual’s responsibilities would include “protecting the U.S. Government’s best interests” and “ensuring that [U.S. company] meets all of the requirements of the Special Security Agreements required by the Defense Security Service.”  With little analysis, the FARA Unit concluded that the activities were “commercial in nature” and therefore qualified for the “commercial activities” exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(d)(1).Commercial Activities Exemption (613(d)(1))U.S. IndividualU.S. Company (Subsidiary of Foreign Company)No
6/29/2017A foreign individual intended to work in the United States and hire a consultancy to support a former foreign government official, oppose the foreign government then in office, and call for the independent monitoring of election in a foreign country.  The work would involve lobbying U.S. government officials.  The foreign individual articulated “a concern for the physical safety” of the foreign individual because of their political views and their opposition to the foreign government.  The foreign individual requested that the FARA Unit grant an exemption from public disclosure under 22 U.S.C. 612(f), which allows the Attorney General to exempt a filer from providing information “not necessary to carry out the purposes of” FARA.  The FARA Unit declined to extend this exemption to the foreign individual, noting that it authorized the Attorney General to exempt only “unnecessary information.”  The FARA Unit, however, did offer to redact “personally identifiable information” (e.g. addresses) from “publication on the FARA website upon receipt of a letter from the registrant.”Attorney General Exemption (612(f))Foreign Individual
6/22/2017Two U.S. public relations firms provided advice to a foreign corporation concerning economic, security, and diplomatic matters facing a foreign country “in order to improve the overall global standing of [foreign country] and its relations with countries other than the United States.”  The agreement with the foreign corporation specifically stated that the foreign corporation would not ask the U.S. firms to “engage in any activity that would require registration under FARA.”  Although the FARA Unit ultimately decided registration was unnecessary for the two firms, it also notably rejected an argument that the firms were not required to register due to the fact that the firms’ personnel “would be physically outside the United States at the time of performance or delivery of the service.”U.S. Public Relations FirmForeign CompanyNo
9/20/2016In a sparse opinion that contains little analysis, the FARA Unit told a requestor that registration was unnecessary for services under a signed contract with a foreign consulate where the contract clarified that the request would not provide “any communication and/or representation with any U.S. governmental official, with any news media, or with any related third party.”  The FARA Unit did not describe any of the other representational activities or analyze whether they could potentially trigger FARA registration.UnknownForeign GovernmentNo
7/12/2016A foreign non-profit foundation was “considered a quasi-government arm” of a foreign government, performing services for and taking direction from a foreign government ministry.  The foreign foundation proposed the sponsorship of exhibits at a U.S. museum about the history of diplomatic relations between the foreign country and the United States “to educate the American public about the strong bonds that have existed between the two nations.”  The foreign foundation also planned to purchase “historically important and valuable items” for the foreign government.  The FARA Unit stated that a “significant number of the activities in which the Foundation is considering engaging in could be considered to be activities ‘in furtherance of bona fide religious, scholastic, academic, or scientific pursuits, or of the fine arts’” under the statutory exemption for these activities at 22 U.S.C. 613(e).  However, the FARA Unit also noted that the foreign foundation was “engaging in a wider array of activities and should register.”Exemption for Religious, Scholastic, Academic, Scientific, or Fine Arts Pursuits (613(e))Foreign Non-ProfitForeign GovernmentYes
11/24/2015A U.S. non-profit foundation received funds from a foreign government pursuant to a grant agreement.  The FARA Unit concluded that it would “not contest” the U.S. foundation’s claim for an exemption under 22 U.S.C. 613(h), “so long as the activities of [U.S. foundation] are limited to activities ‘in furtherance of the bona fide religious, scholastic, academic, or scientific pursuits, or of the fine arts.’”  The FARA Unit did not specify the underlying facts about the grants or the grant agreement.Exemption for Religious, Scholastic, Academic, Scientific, or Fine Arts Pursuits (613(e))U.S. Non-ProfitForeign GovernmentNo
11/10/2015A U.S. law firm and affiliated U.S. government relations firm represented a foreign company in its attempted acquisition of a U.S. company and the related Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) process.  The FARA Unit has previously advised the U.S. firms that they were required to register this representation under FARA (see 12-3-2012).  The U.S. firms then supplemented their initial filing with additional information, noting that their foreign company client was 40% owned by a foreign municipal government and 60% owned by a holding company (which itself was owned by two private foreign nationals).  By the time the FARA Unit considered this additional information and revisited its initial analysis, the U.S. firms no longer represented the foreign company.  Nonetheless, three years after the U.S. firms’ initial request, the FARA Unit ultimately concluded that it would “not contest” the U.S. firms’ request for an exemption under 22 U.S.C. 613(h), which applies to Lobbying Disclosure Act registrants because no foreign government owned or controlled the U.S. firms’ foreign company client.Lobbying Disclosure Act Exemption (613(h))U.S. Law Firm; U.S. Public Relations FirmForeign CompanyNo
8/31/2015A U.S. public relations firm planned to hold a political fundraising event for an individual who was a naturalized U.S. citizen and running for public office in a foreign country.  The FARA Unit remarked that “merely contributing funds” would not trigger registration, but concluded that soliciting and collecting funds gives rise to registration.U.S. Public Relations FirmU.S. Citizen Running for Foreign Office; Foreign Political PartyYes
7/29/2015The FARA Unit concluded that registration was unnecessary for an unknown requestor based on the representations contained in a letter, but did not describe those representations or any other facts about the request.UnknownUnknownNo
7/2/2015The FARA Unit concluded that registration was unnecessary for an unknown requestor based on the representations contained in a letter, but did not describe those representations or any other facts about the request.UnknownUnknownNo
1/7/2015The FARA Unit concluded that FARA registration was unnecessary for an unknown requestor based on the representations contained in a letter, but did not describe those representations or any other facts about the request.  The FARA Unit also concluded “that there is insufficient evidence at this time to require [foreign national] to register pursuant to 50 U.S.C. 851,” which is a related anti-espionage statute, while also declaring that the Unit “does not render advisory opinions or statements of enforcement posture under 18 U.S.C. 951,” which is yet another anti-espionage statute.Foreign IndividualUnknownNo
8/13/2014A U.S. non-profit organization consisted of foreign nationals who lived in the United States and supported a particular foreign political party.  The U.S. non-profit collected money from its members and others in the United States to support that foreign political party.  The U.S. non-profit stipulated that it was not directed, controlled, or funded by the foreign political party, and that it did not disburse funds or conduct political activities for the foreign political party.  The FARA Unit responded to these facts by requesting additional information from the U.S. non-profit, including copies of organizational documents and correspondence.  The FARA Unit declined to issue an advisory opinion.U.S. Non-ProfitForeign Political PartyN/A
9/10/2013A U.S. law firm was retained by a foreign company that market high-performance computer systems, software, and services to remove the company from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security’s “Entity List,” which prohibits listed companies from certain commercial interactions.  The foreign company was one-quarter owned by a foreign bank that was controlled by a foreign government.  The FARA Unit found that the U.S. law firm was exempt from FARA registration under the “legal representation” exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(g) because it would attempt to remove its client from the “Entity List” through a civil law enforcement proceeding.  The FARA Unit also found that it did not possess sufficient information about ownership and control by any foreign government and about the foreign company’s alleged export violations to provide a determination about the “commercial activities” exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(d)(1).Commercial Activities Exemption (613(d)(1)); Legal Representation Exemption (613(g))U.S. Law FirmForeign State-Owned EnterpriseNo
4/9/2013 (A)A U.S. consulting firm worked for a foreign research center to arrange “conferences, workshops, lectures, and other scholarly events.”  The FARA Unit did not make a determination, noting that it needed additional information to decide whether FARA registration was necessary.U.S. Consulting FirmForeign Non-ProfitN/A
4/9/2013 (B)A U.S. law firm that had previously been instructed to register by the FARA Unit (see 12-3-2012) for matters involving the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sought subsequent clarification.  The U.S. law firm specified that it would be seeking a “specific license from OFAC permitting direct payments to be made between U.S. financial institution and [foreign bank] in connection with the licensed exports of food, medicine, and medical devices.”  The FARA Unit found that seeking such a specific license would not be a registrable activity because it would “be part of established and routine administrative OFAC procedures.”  However, the FARA Unit also noted that the U.S. law firm contemplated lobbying of U.S. government officials to secure approval of the license and concluded that those efforts would be “political activities” under the statute.  Moreover, the FARA Unit decided that the U.S. law firm could not avail itself of the “commercial activities” exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(d)(1) and the exemption for Lobbying Disclosure Act registrants at 22 U.S.C. 613(h) because the foreign country “and its banking system [are] bound together.”  FARA therefore held that the U.S. law firm’s representation would “require immediate registration under FARA.”Commercial Activities Exemption (613(d)(1)); Lobbying Disclosure Act Exemption (613(h))U.S. Law FirmForeign CompanyYes
12/3/2012 (A)A U.S. law firm and an affiliated U.S. government relations firm represented a foreign company in connection with an acquisition of a U.S. company, focusing specifically on navigating the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) process and “educating U.S. policymakers” about the foreign company’s business.  The foreign company was minority owned by a foreign municipal investment corporation, which was controlled by the foreign municipal government.  The U.S. government relations firm registered under the Lobbying Disclosure Act prior to requesting the advisory opinion from the FARA Unit.  The FARA Unit, after remarking several times that the requestor did not provide adequate information, decided that this activity was “political activity” under the statute in as much it was “an attempt to in any way influence the domestic or foreign policy of the United States and the political or public interest of the [foreign country].”  The FARA Unit, without further analysis, concluded that the U.S. law firm and the U.S. government relations firms could not avail themselves of the “commercial activities” exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(d)(1).  The FARA Unit also rejected the applicability of the “legal representation” exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(g) because the “anticipated activities … exceed the activities permitted under the legal exemption.”  Finally, the FARA Unit rejected the applicability of the exemption for Lobbying Disclosure Act registrants at 22 U.S.C. 613(h) because that “exemption is not permitted where a foreign government is the principal beneficiary.” The FARA Unit revisited and reversed its analysis of this particular representation three years after this initial conclusion (see 11-10-2015).Commercial Activities Exemption (613(d)(1)); Legal Representation Exemption (613(g)); Lobbying Disclosure Act Exemption (613(h))U.S. Law Firm; U.S. Public Relations FirmForeign State-Owned EnterpriseYes
12/3/2012 (B)U.S. law firm was retained by a private foreign bank to provide “legal and political consultancy services regarding the establishment of a direct banking relationship” between the bank and U.S. financial institutions “to facilitate licensed transactions” involving entities in a foreign country.  The FARA Unit noted that the goal of the representation was contrary to an Executive Order, which blocked any U.S. institution from engaging in transactions with any financial institution in that foreign country.  The FARA Unit also remarked that the U.S. Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) named the foreign bank specifically as an entity covered by the Executive Order.  The U.S. law firm, in order to lift these restrictions for its foreign bank client, planned to communicate with U.S. government officials, propose legislation, appeal to the public and industry leaders, and meet with U.S. financial institutions to “discuss compliance assurances.”  The FARA Unit concluded that the U.S. law firm’s proposed work constituted “political activities” under FARA and was ineligible for the Lobbying Disclosure Act exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(h) because a foreign government would be “the principal beneficiary.” The FARA Unit later revisited its analysis of this particular representation but reached the same conclusion (see 4-9-2013).Lobbying Disclosure Act Exemption (613(h))U.S. Law FirmForeign CompanyYes
11/8/2012 (A)A U.S. 501(c)(3) non-profit research institution was established to study unspecified issues related to the United States and foreign countries.  The U.S. 501(c)(3) proposed to receive a grant from a foreign corporation, which was itself funded by both public and private donations but had no affiliation with a foreign government or foreign political party.  The foreign corporation’s purpose was to create a financial center in a foreign city.  The FARA Unit concluded that the U.S. 501(c)(3) could receive the proposed grant “without incurring an obligation to register under FARA.”  In reaching this conclusion, the FARA Unit relied heavily on the U.S. 501(c)(3)’s representation that it would not engage in “political activity” or any other FARA-registrable activity.  The FARA Unit did not provide an analysis of whether the grant-funded work would be FARA-registrable activities, separate from the requestor’s representations.U.S. Non-ProfitForeign Non-ProfitNo
11/8/2012 (B)A U.S. 501(c)(3) non-profit organization proposed to represent a foreign government ministry by: (1) convening panels (e.g. think-tank analysts, former U.S. officials, corporate figures) to discuss issues of interest to the foreign government; (2) hosting foreign government officials in Washington to present their views on issues of interest to the foreign government; (3) training interns and introducing them to the Washington policy community; (4) working with the foreign government’s embassy on “important issues”; and (5) conducting educational workshops throughout the U.S. on issues important to the foreign government.”  The U.S. 501(c)(3) noted that it had been educating U.S. policymakers and other citizens about similar issues for over 30 years.  The FARA Unit noted that the U.S. 501(c)(3)’s “tax exemption does not relieve an agent from registration under FARA” and then concluded that the organization must register because it would engage in “political activities” and serve as a “political consultant” for a foreign government.U.S. Non-ProfitForeign GovernmentYes
11/8/2012 (C)A U.S. individual initially requested an opinion from the FARA Unit, but subsequently indicated that he/she “decided to separate myself amicably” from the foreign government he/she previously represented “because of the deteriorating security situation.”  The U.S. individual withdrew the request for an advisory opinion.U.S. IndividualForeign GovernmentN/A
9/6/2012A U.S. individual proposed providing advice on a foreign government’s security and national defense to that government’s President, Prime Minister, Ambassador to the United States, and other senior officials.  The U.S. individual represented that he/she would not engage in “political activities” or any other FARA-registrable activities.  The FARA Unit stated that advice to a foreign government “on matters unrelated to the integrity of the U.S. government decision making process or American public opinion toward” the foreign government would not trigger FARA registration.  However, the FARA Unit found media articles disseminated in the United States that were written by the U.S. individual about the foreign country and remarked that several “public source documents” alleged that the U.S. individual “received payments from the [foreign government] Embassy to write articles favorable to [foreign ambassador].”  The FARA Unit therefore withheld any conclusion on registration and asked the U.S. individual to provide additional information.U.S. IndividualForeign GovernmentN/A
7/9/2012A foreign government retained a foreign partnership to perform consultancy services in several countries “but not in the United States.”  The foreign partnership then hired a foreign company to support its contract with the foreign government.  That foreign company, in turn, contracted with its U.S. subsidiary to provide “consultancy services in the United States for the [foreign country],” and the U.S. subsidiary registered under FARA prior to the opinion request.  The FARA Unit declared that neither the foreign partnership nor the foreign company were required to register under FARA so long as they did not “act within the United States on behalf of the [foreign government] and all public relations activities within the U.S. were conducted exclusively by” the U.S. subsidiary.  The FARA Unit also noted that even though the foreign partnership and foreign company were not necessarily required to register themselves, they did need to be listed on the U.S. subsidiary’s FARA registration in order to disclose fully the relationship between the U.S. subsidiary and the foreign government.U.S. Public Relations Firm; Foreign Partnership; Foreign CompanyForeign GovernmentNo
5/18/2012A U.S. individual who had received earlier advisory opinions from the FARA Unit requested a renewal of those prior opinions by simply referring the Unit to “earlier correspondence.”  The FARA Unit responded that it would need “specific details of … current activities” and declined to issue an opinion.  The FARA Unit did mention, however, that a statutory exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(f) for a foreign government “vital to the defense of the United States” was not available to the U.S. individual because the individual’s foreign principal had not been duly listed by the President in the Federal Register, as the exemption requires.Foreign Government Vital to U.S. Defense Exemption (613(f))U.S. IndividualForeign GovernmentN/A
2/29/2012A U.S. law firm provided “legal and political consultancy services” to a foreign individual, who was married to a former leader of a foreign political party regarded as a foreign country’s “top opposition leader.”  The representation involved an effort to obtain the release of the foreign individual’s spouse from a foreign prison by educating U.S. policymakers about the circumstances of the imprisonment.  The U.S. law firm was to be paid by the foreign individual exclusively from personal funds.  The U.S. law firm registered the representation under the Lobbying Disclosure Act prior to asking for the FARA Unit’s opinion.  The FARA Unit said that the exemption for Lobbying Disclosure Act registrants at 22 U.S.C. 613(h) was inapplicable because a foreign political party would be “the principal beneficiary” and that the “activities not serving predominantly a foreign interest” exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(d)(2) was inapplicable because the activity was directed by a foreign political party and the exemption “applies to foreign corporations engaged in commercial activities.”  Notably, the FARA Unit rejected the U.S. law firm’s assertion that registration was unnecessary because no foreign government or foreign political party would pay the firm’s fees, remarking that “payment of the agent is not the only factor in determining FARA coverage.”Not Serving Predominantly A Foreign Interest Exemption (613(d)(2)); Lobbying Disclosure Act Exemption (613(h))U.S. Law FirmForeign IndividualYes
2/1/2012A U.S. individual communicated with several U.S. government officials and agencies to recommend “as friendly to the interests of the United States” a foreign individual who was campaigning as a candidate at the time to be President of a foreign country.  The FARA Unit stated that it considered the U.S. individual to be an “agent.”  The FARA Unit then went on to mention that 22 U.S.C. 613(d)(1) and (d)(2) exempt “certain commercial transactions from the requirements of the Act” and that registration is not required when activities are limited “to nonpolitical activities or commercial activities” before ending the opinion.Commercial Activities Exemption (613(d)(1)); Not Serving Predominantly A Foreign Interest Exemption (613(d)(2))U.S. IndividualForeign IndividualYes
10/13/2011A U.S. company contracted with a foreign government to act within the United States and Canada in order to secure investment for and attract tourists to a particular region in a foreign country.  The FARA Unit opined that tourism promotion constituted “political activity” and fit the definition of all other categories of FARA-registrable activity under the statute.  The FARA Unit therefore concluded that the U.S. company was required to register.U.S. CompanyForeign GovernmentYes
8/26/2011A U.S. public relations firm proposed working for a U.S. individual who served as Honorary Consul General for a foreign government to raise funds in the United States for the construction of a memorial in a foreign country.  The U.S. individual insisted that the memorial project was his/her “own creation” and that he/she was acting “in his role as a private U.S. citizen and not as Honorary Consul General” by spearheading the memorial fundraising project.  The FARA Unit found that the U.S. individual and the U.S. public relations firm had no obligation to register under FARA.U.S. Individual; U.S. Public Relations FirmForeign GovernmentNo
7/27/2011 (A)A foreign company, which was owned directly by a foreign national government and a foreign state-owned development bank, intended to sell a U.S. company to a U.S. corporation.  To effectuate the sale, the foreign company was required to obtain permission from (and therefore communicate with) officials from Congress and from U.S. government agencies.  With little analysis, the FARA Unit said that the foreign company’s interactions with government officials would be eligible for the registration exemptions at 22 U.S.C. 613(d) and registration would therefore be unnecessary.Commercial Activities Exemption (613(d)(1)); Not Serving Predominantly A Foreign Interest Exemption (613(d)(2))Foreign Company (Owned by Foreign Government and Foreign State-Owned Enterprise)Foreign Company (Owned by Foreign Government and Foreign State-Owned Enterprise)No
7/27/2011 (B)A U.S. law firm was retained by a foreign government to “initiate, conduct, supervise, and assist in litigation” involving foreign nationals who were in the United States, including the filing of amicus briefs.  Notably, the FARA Unit concluded that registration was unnecessary because these individuals did not fit the definition of “foreign principal” and because the U.S. law firm was not engaging in any registrable activities.  The FARA Unit also mentioned that it determined the law firm’s representation was exempt under the “legal representation” exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(g).Legal Representation Exemption (613(g))U.S. Law FirmForeign Government; Foreign IndividualsNo
2/16/2011A U.S. law firm was retained by a foreign government to provide litigation services to the foreign government and to foreign nationals, which would involve pre-litigation discussions with relevant U.S. government officials in an attempt to avoid judicial action and to alter enforcement policies that could trigger litigation.  The FARA Unit stated that the U.S. law firm could rely on the “legal representation” exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(g), so long as it disclosed its foreign government client during the course of any discussions.  However, the FARA Unit also requested additional information from the U.S. law firm about the scope of its possible efforts to discuss changed enforcement policies.Legal Representation Exemption (613(g))U.S. Law FirmForeign Government; Foreign IndividualsNo
12/7/2010A U.S. law firm was retained as litigation counsel to a foreign government seeking damages against a multinational corporation “for both the loss of commercial profits and tax revenues.”  A U.S. federal district court, citing a U.S. “revenue rule” dismissed all the foreign government’s claims for damages in the form of lost tax revenue.  The U.S. law firm hired a U.S. public relations firm to “meet with the State Department and seek to have them waive the rule in this case.”  The FARA Unit found that although the litigation activities by the U.S. law firm would be exempt from registration as a “legal representation” under 22 U.S.C. 613(g), the efforts to influence the State Department would fall outside that exemption and therefore triggered registration.  The FARA Unit also reviewed the U.S. law firm’s contingent-fee arrangement with the foreign government and found that FARA’s statutory prohibition on contingent fees was not violated because the fee was tied to “the success of winning your case through settlement or jury verdict.”Legal Representation Exemption (613(g))U.S. Law Firm; U.S. Public Relations FirmForeign GovernmentYes
10/19/2010A U.S. consultancy represented a U.S. international air cargo transport company that was owned by three foreign entities and individuals.  The U.S. consultancy met with U.S. government officials as part of the representation and registered under the Lobbying Disclosure Act for the representation prior to soliciting the FARA Unit’s opinion.  The FARA Unit concluded that the U.S. consultancy was eligible for the exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(h) for Lobbying Disclosure Act registrants and registration was not required.Lobbying Disclosure Act Exemption (613(h))U.S. Public Relations FirmU.S. Company (Owned by Foreign Entities and Individuals)No
8/17/2010A U.S. individual formed a U.S. company in early 2008 for the purpose of rendering services to a foreign government.  Those services included, among other things, communicating with U.S. government officials, “attract[ing] foreign assistance from the United States and other countries,” and promoting “the professionalism and readiness of the [foreign government] security services.”  The U.S. company executed a contract with the foreign government, the U.S. company received payment from the foreign government, and the U.S. individual met several times with foreign government officials.  The U.S. individual severed the relationship with the U.S. company and foreign government in January 2009.  The FARA Unit concluded, when asked in 2010, that the statute required a retroactive FARA registration followed by a termination.U.S. Individual; U.S. CompanyForeign GovernmentYes
5/20/2010A U.S. law firm requested an opinion from the FARA Unit regarding the extent to which an attorney could represent a foreign principal before certain components of the U.S. Congress that were conducting an investigation.  The FARA Unit declined to issue an advisory opinion on the basis that the request lacked sufficient information.U.S. Law FirmUnknownN/A
5/20/2010A U.S. consultancy was offered a contract to assist a foreign individual running for political office in a foreign country.  The foreign candidate’s campaign could be funded by a foreign political party, and the U.S. consultancy would be paid either by the foreign candidate or the foreign political party.  The engagement was to advise the foreign candidate “on the social networking tools and methods used by President Obama and other U.S. political candidates” in order to run the foreign candidate’s campaign.  The engagement also included meeting with U.S. government officials and consultants, though the meetings were described as being for the purpose of “obtaining this information and not to influence U.S. officials or any sector of the U.S. public….”  The U.S. consultancy further emphasized that any information obtained in meetings would be “solely” for use in the foreign campaign that occurred outside the United States.  The FARA Unit concluded that registration was unnecessary because the proposed activities were “not among those enumerated in Section 1(c)(1)(i)-(iv).”U.S. Public Relations FirmForeign Individual; Foreign Political PartyNo
1/20/2010A U.S. consultancy was retained by a foreign trade association to “provide a range of services promoting business and investment opportunities between” a foreign country and the United States through meetings with U.S. government officials, promoting legislation, and other activities.  The foreign trade association was not directed or controlled by a foreign government, according to the requestor, but did receive roughly $10 million per year for projects that the FARA Unit found to “promote the political or public interests of [foreign country] in the United States.”  The FARA Unit concluded that the U.S. consultancy was required to register and was ineligible for the exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(h) for Lobbying Disclosure Act registrants because of this designated funding.Lobbying Disclosure Act Exemption (613(h))U.S. Public Relations FirmForeign Non-ProfitYes
8/27/2003A U.S. law firm was retained by a foreign government “to prepare litigation seeking to recover money owed” to the foreign government under commercial contracts.  The engagement involved some interaction with U.S. law enforcement agencies “in connection with an ongoing investigation.”  With no analysis, the FARA Unit declared that the representation was eligible for the “commercial activities” exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(d)(1) and the “legal representation” exemption at 22 U.S.C. 613(h).Commercial Activities Exemption (613(d)(1)); Legal Representation Exemption (613(g))U.S. Law FirmForeign GovernmentNo
7/19/1988A U.S. company was “engaged in economic development activity on behalf of” a foreign local-level government entity.  With relatively little analysis, the FARA Unit concluded that the promotion of economic investment in a foreign jurisdiction is “political activity” and “political propaganda” under the statute.  The FARA Unit therefore stated that the U.S. company was required to register.U.S. CompanyForeign Government (Local)Yes
1/20/1984A U.S. public relations firm provided advertising services to a foreign government’s tourism bureau.  The FARA Unit concluded that promoting tourism for a foreign government “cannot be construed as private and nonpolitical” and qualified as “political propaganda” because “tourism creates an influx of capital and a host of jobs for the indigenous population, both of which are obviously in the political and public interests of [foreign country].”  The FARA Unit therefore found that the U.S. public relations firm was required to register under FARA.  Notably, the FARA Unit also remarked that it did “not require the labeling of tourism ads as political propaganda.”Commercial Activities Exemption (613(d)(1))U.S. Public Relations FirmForeign GovernmentYes