Who Pays Your Bills? What Foreign-Supported Nonprofits Need to Know about the Foreign Agents Registration Act

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Lost in the media frenzy surrounding the arrest of twelve Russian spies by the FBI in June 2010 was the fact that the spies were arrested – not for stealing state secrets or trading technology – but for failing to register with the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (“FARA,” 22 U.S.C. § 611 et seq.). This statute requires U.S. persons to register when they engage in certain political or quasi-political activities on behalf of “foreign principals.” The media’s obsession with Anna “Sexy” Chapman aside, the real lesson from the recent arrests is that U.S. persons – including trade associations, charities and other nonprofits – that engage in political or quasi-political activities on behalf of foreign principals must comply with FARA or risk similar public embarrassment and possibly criminal penalties.

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Published In: Administrative Agency Updates, Business Organization Updates, Criminal Law Updates, International Trade Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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