Venture Capitalist Agrees to Plead Guilty to FARA Violations

On October 22, the Department of Justice filed criminal charges against Imaad Shah Zuberi, a Southern California venture capitalist, alleging violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (“FARA”) and other laws. Zuberi, who ran a venture capital firm called Avenue Ventures, has agreed to plead guilty to the charges. The…

Department of Education Investigates Foreign Gifts to U.S. Universities

The Department of Education (DOE) appears to be stepping up scrutiny of American universities’ disclosures of foreign gifts and contracts. Several universities have received letters from the Department requesting information related to foreign gifts and contracts. Section 117 of the Higher Education Act requires that institutions report to the federal…

Judge Throws Out Foreign Agent Conviction of Former Michael Flynn Associate

On September 24th, Judge Trenga of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia set aside the conviction of former Michael Flynn associate Bijan Rafiekian. In July, a federal jury had convicted Rafiekian, who ran a consulting firm with Michael Flynn hired to advocate for the extradition of…

DOJ Official Confirms that FARA is a “Top Priority”

A Department of Justice official confirmed yesterday that enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (“FARA”) is a “top priority” for the Department.  The remark was made by Brandon Van Grack, the Chief of the Department’s FARA Registration Unit, during a speech at the recent National Forum on FARA, a…

Two Russian FARA-Related Cases Still Pending

Two federal cases charging violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (“FARA”) by Russian companies and individuals alleged to have acted as unregistered foreign agents to interfere in the 2016 and 2018 elections are still pending. The cases are part of a larger effort by the Department of Justice (“DOJ”)…

Former Michael Flynn Associate Convicted Under FARA

On July 23, 2019, a federal jury convicted Bijan Rafiekian (also known as Bijan Kian), a former business partner of Michael Flynn, of conspiring to file a materially false statement under FARA and of violating a statute that is similar to FARA at 18 U.S.C. § 951. The conviction represents…

NDAA Carries New Disclosure Requirements for U.S.-Based Foreign Media Outlets

As part of a continuing push to address foreign influence in the United States, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) enacted on August 13, 2018, includes new disclosure requirements for foreign-affiliated media companies operating in the United States. A public notice issued by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on September…

Could The Fugees’ Pras Michel Be Charged with a FARA Violation?

Prakazrel “Pras” Michel, a member of the 1990s musical group The Fugees, was indicted earlier this month for violating federal campaign finance and tax laws.  The charges stemmed from Pras allegedly making $865,000 worth of illegal “straw donations” through a network of 20 people to the 2012 Obama presidential campaign…

DOJ Wins First FARA Civil Enforcement Case Since 1991

On May 6, 2019, the U.S. District Court of Southern Florida ruled in favor of the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) in a proceeding that involved a Florida broadcasting company named RM Broadcasting, which contended it should not be required to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (“FARA”) as a…

Recent Developments in Florida Broadcasting Company’s Suit Against DOJ Over FARA Registration Requirement

A Florida-based broadcasting company filed suit last year against the Department of Justice (“DOJ”), claiming it should not be required to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (“FARA”). The company, RM Broadcasting, broadcasts the radio channel Sputnik, whose parent company, Rossiya Segodnya, is owned and operated by the Russian…