- Foreign agents disclose $3 million in new business ahead of Biden transition
- WikiLeaks fans lobby for Assange pardon
- Alleged Bitcoin founder ends lobbying over corporate integrity dispute
- Africa textile trade group ends lobbying
- Honduras extends lobbying
- Polish association registers as foreign agent
Foreign agents disclose $3 million in new business ahead of Biden transition
Canada’s oil-rich province of Alberta, the Haitian government and an embattled Bulgarian lawmaker are among the foreign clients looking for an edge as Washington prepares to transfer power to the Joe Biden administration.
All told, US firms representing foreign sovereign clients disclosed more than $1.6 million in lobbying contracts and another $1.5 million in public relations deals last month, according to a Foreign Lobby Report review of Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) filings received by the Department of Justice in December.
Read the story here.
New lobbying filings
Democratic Republic of the Congo: Chicago-based law firm Baker & McKenzie disclosed $950,000 in payments from the Democratic Republic of the Congo for legal and other non-political services in the six months through November. The DRC’s Ministry of Finance hired the firm in March to “assist the government with a broad economic restructuring mandate and assist with the government’s multilateral relations with the International Monetary Fund.” The contract is for at least $1.35 million.
Kenya: Washington law firm Ryberg and Smith terminated its representation of the African Cotton and Textile Industries Federation on Dec. 31. The firm had represented the Kenya-based regional trade association since 2010. Ryberg most recently lobbied on access to the US market for apparel under the African Growth and Opportunity Act in the third quarter of 2020. Firm founder Paul Ryberg was the only lobbyist registered on the account.
Honduras: Gus West Government Affairs continues to represent the government of Honduras after its contract expired on Dec. 31. The firm told the US Department of Justice that it is “awaiting a new contract with the Republic of Honduras and, in the interim, is continuing to conduct work for the Republic of Honduras under the terms of the previous contract until a new contract is signed.” Gus West Government Affairs has represented Honduras since 2016. Its current contract is for $55,000 a month. The contract negotiations come as US prosecutors last week made new allegations that Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernandez is implicated in the drug trade.
Malaysia: The Malaysian Investment Development Authority office in San Jose, California received $270,000 from its headquarters in Malaysia in 2020 to help “promote and facilitate investment of Malaysian and US companies in relation to manufacturing and related services.”
Poland: Polish social association Gaya United has registered as a foreign agent with the US Department of Justice. The registration was effective Nov. 15, 2020. Board chairman Artur Winiarski, who lives in Poland, is the only registered agent. His US activities are expected to include “lobbying, promotion, perception management, public relations, economic development, and preparation or dissemination of informational materials.”
Syria: Qutaiba Idlbi, the new head of the US mission of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, has filed an English-language translation with the US Department of Justice of his employment contract with the Turkey-based opposition group.
Turkey: Washington law firm Saltzman & Evinch has registered associate attorney Arda Cankat on its long-time account with the Embassy of Turkey. The US Department of Justice required the firm to register as a foreign agent of Turkey last year amid evidence that its legal advice was being used to lobby on sanctions and other matters. Cankat joins firms principals Gunay Evinch and David Saltzman, partner Efe Poturoglu, associate attorney Rachel Denktas and consultant Gani Kuseyri on the account.
Bitcoin : Rulon & White Governance Strategies has terminated its representation of James Bilal Khalid Caan of London, one of the people claiming to be Bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto, as of Nov. 30. Washington-based Rulon signed a one-year contract with Caan and his SNR Holdings for $50,000 a month and 10 million bitcoin ($92.5 billion) back in November 2019. The firm however has disclosed no payments since then, telling the US Department of Justice that the “foreign principal cites sources of income ceased.”
In a phone interview today, Rulon & White Managing Partner Todd White told Foreign Lobby Report that Caan “became a little impatient with the US Congress” over its efforts to regulate cryptocurrencies. “As a result of that, he would not sign a corporate integrity agreement that we had, which consisted of [agreeing] that he would not work with any other sovereign nation such as China, North Korea, Iran, that are antithetical to the United States,” White said. “And that became a concern with regard to our representation. We agreed that that would be a challenge moving forward in representing Satoshi Nakamoto in the United States.” In its filing, the firm said it emailed the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) in August about a hearing request. The hearing never took place but Caan laid out his vision for partnering with the US government on block chain technology in letters to the CFTC as well as to the Comptroller of the Currency and key lawmakers. “I foresee the Chain of Blocks / Block chain industry altering the global economic models, with the USA leading this revolution,” he wrote. “And it’ll be my honor to be part of this transformation.”
Caught our eye
Supporters of Julian Assange have enlisted a lobbyist close to President Donald Trump to help gain clemency for the WikiLeaks founder, the New York Times reports. Australian nonprofit Blueprint for Free Speech has hired Robert Stryk pro bono to press both Trump and the incoming Joe Biden administration for a pardon, the Times reports. The contract with Stryk Global Diplomacy has not yet been uploaded to the US Department of Justice’s FARA (Foreign Agents Registration Act) website. The US Justice Department charged Assange in 2019 on 18 counts related to WikiLeaks’ release of classified information. Stryk is a former Oregon winery owner who became one of the best-paid foreign lobbyists under Trump after helping informally on the president’s 2016 campaign on the West Coast. Stryk is currently registered as an agent for several foreign clients via his Sonoran Policy Group, including the government of Kenya; the Democratic Party of Albania; imprisoned Algerian businessman Ali Hadad; and Terra Peregrin, the Portuguese-based investment vehicle of Isabel Dos Santos of Angola, Africa’s richest woman.
Sadyr Japarov has just been elected president of Kyrgyzstan with almost 80 % of the vote, but he’s already got a lobbying team lined up. A businessman who says he was acting as an agent of the president signed a $1 million contract with Israeli military intelligence officer Ari Ben-Menashe and his Montreal-based firm Dickens & Madson Canada last fall, Foreign Lobby Report first reported on Nov. 3.