An Introduction to FARA: Definitions, Exemptions and Increased Risk

Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, an enforcement audit and a restructuring of staffing at DOJ are among the forces in the last few years that have thrust a once overlooked law, the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), into the spotlight. FARA governs foreign entities’ political activities in the United States and requires “foreign agents” to register with the Attorney General. As David Laufman, a partner at Wiggin & Dana and former Chief of the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section (CES) in the DOJ’s National Security Division, told the Anti-Corruption Report, FARA has some of the “most nebulous, vague provisions in the entire United States code.” In this first installment of our article series on FARA, we look at the history of the law, its provisions and the important exemptions. Future installments will look at the current enforcement landscape, the risks of registering, compliance measures and enforcement on the horizon. See “CFIUS Expands Review Power to Some Non-Controlling Foreign Investment in U.S. Businesses” (Apr. 1, 2020).

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