What is the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938?

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The Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 or FARA is a federal statute that requires the registration of, and disclosures by, an “agent of foreign principal”. FARA promotes transparency with respect to foreign influence within the United States by ensuring that the U.S. government and the public know the source of certain information from foreign agents intended to influence US policy and laws. 

What is an Agent of Foreign Principal? 

An agent of foreign principal is an individual or entity who must either directly or through another person, within the United States, (1) engage in political activities on behalf of a foreign principal; (2) act as a foreign principal’s public relations counsel, publicity agent, information-service employee, or political consultant; (3) solicit, collect, disburse, or dispense contributions, loans, money, or other things of value for or in the interest of a foreign principal; or (4) represent the interests of the foreign before any agency or official of the U.S. government. FARA also requires agents to label “information materials” transmitted in the United States for or in the interest of a foreign principal. 

A foreign principal can be a foreign government, a foreign political party, any person outside the United States, and any entity organized under the laws of a foreign country or having its principal place of business in a foreign country. 

Who Reports FARA Related Information?

The FARA Unit is part of the National Security Division of the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and is responsible for administering and enforcing FARA. It provides guidance and assistance to both registrants and potential registrants in the registration process. The FARA Unit identifies violations, reviews filing for deficiencies, and inspects registrants’ books and records; the Unit also makes registration information and disclosures available to the public. 

The FARA Unit also encourages those who believe an individual or entity may need to register for FARA by contacting them either through its email: fara.public@usdoj.gov or by calling its numbers (202) 233-0776 or 202 233-0777. 

What Are the Penalties for Violating FARA? 

The penalty for intentionally violating FARA is imprisonment for no more than five years, a fine of up to $250,000, or both. If the violation is considered a misdemeanor, the penalty is of no more than six months, a fine of no more than $5,000, or both. In addition to criminal penalties, the Attorney General has discretion to seek civil penalties and remedies such as injunctions requiring registration under FARA or correcting a deficient registration document. 

EPGD Business Law is located in beautiful Coral Gables, West Palm Beach and historic Washington D.C. Call us at (786) 837-6787, or contact us through the website to schedule a consultation.

*Disclaimer: this blog post is not intended to be legal advice. We highly recommend speaking to an attorney if you have any legal concerns. Contacting us through our website does not establish an attorney-client relationship.*

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