FARA and LDA Enforcement History
With disclosure issues currently receiving significant attention within the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Congress considering changes to the relationship between the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938, as amended (FARA) and the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995, as amended (LDA), now is a good time to review your internal disclosure compliance programs.
FARA is enforced and administered by the DOJ National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section and FARA Registration Unit. From 1939 to 1992, there have been 85 known FARA enforcement cases. From 1966 to 2015, according to a 2016 report issued by the DOJ Office of Inspector General, there have been 7 known criminal FARA cases (one conviction, two guilty pleas, two non-FARA guilty pleas, two dismissals) and no known civil enforcement actions since 1991. Violations of FARA are punishable by a fine of $10,000 and up to 5 years in prison.
The LDA is enforced by the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. To date, there have been nine known LDA enforcement cases since 1995: (2015 - $125,000 settlement; 2015 - $30,000 settlement; 2013 - $200,000 default judgment; 2012 - $50,000 settlement; 2012 - $30,000 settlement; 2011 - $45,000 settlement; 1995-2007 – three undisclosed settlements) and no known criminal enforcement cases. Violations of the LDA are punishable by a fine of up to $200,000 per violation or up to five years in prison.
According to recent press reports, the DOJ may be actively pursuing as many as 5 FARA enforcement cases. To date, the Secretary of the Senate has referred a total of 14,352 LDA violations to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia since 1995.