Latest filings

Ukrainian oligarch rehires political operative Lanny Davis in bribery case; Dershowitz back to lobbying for sanctioned mining magnate Gertler; African businessman seeks US donors for urbanization vision: Tuesday’s Daily Digest


Ukrainian oligarch Firtash rehires political operative Lanny Davis in bribery case

Dmitry Firtash (r) speaks after a press conference in Kyiv, Ukraine on Nov. 12, 2013 / By Krysja via Shutterstock

A Ukrainian oligarch who helped President Donald Trump‘s re-election campaign investigate Joe Biden‘s son Hunter Biden has re-hired Democratic political operative Lanny Davis for help with his legal troubles.

Dmytro Firtash hired Davis and his firm Davis Goldberg & Galper this month as he faces federal bribery charges in Chicago. A billionaire gas magnate linked to former Ukrainian President Victor Yanukovych and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Firtash is accused of laundering natural gas revenues and using the money to fund Yanukovych’s political party.

Davis’ firm is tasked with “attempting to correct the public record regarding false and misleading assertions in the media about Mr. Firtash by the prosecutors and others that may already have tainted the jury pool.” The firm is also tasked with “attempting to prove that the indictment is invalid and should be dropped.”

Read the story here.

New lobbying filings

Africa

South Africa: A South African academic and businessman leading an effort to tackle urban poverty by building new master-planned cities across the continent has hired a US academic to help build a fundraising strategy and court donors for his vision. Tshilidzi Ratshitanga, the founder and chairman of the New Cities, New Economies project, hired Ba-Shen Welch of Alabama for $37,500 for the 12 months starting April 3. Ratshitanga is a co-owner of Mitupo Investment Holdings in Johannesburg. Welch is a consultant on higher education and international affairs who was previously vice president of Strategic Initiatives at Miles College in Fairfield.

New Cities is a project under the Global Consortium for Africa’s Economic Development, a non-­governmental organization created to advance Africa’s economic development, according to Ratshitanga’s web site. The vision stems from his book “New Cities New Economies: South Africa and Africa’s Grand Plan, A Pan-Africa Economic Revolution.”

“We believe that the USA needs to get involved in shaping Africa’s development and the New Cities present an opportunity for that,” Ratshitanga wrote in an email to Foreign Lobby Report. “We are aiming for Professor Ba-Shen Welch to connect us to US institutions and influential individuals which can help us implement this vision.”

Americas

Mexico: A Texas law firm hired by an embattled Mexican governor has urged the head of the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to demand that Mexico stop leaking its client’s financial information. Gerger Hennessy & McFarlane told FinCEN that the Mexican government is violating information-sharing agreements by leaking information obtained from the US with the Mexican media. Mexican authorities have accused Tamaulipas Gov. Francisco Garcia Cabeza de Vaca of money laundering and ties to organized crime based in part on information obtained from FinCEN.

Read our updated story here.

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Asia

Afghanistan: Jake Perry + Partners distributed a white paper on behalf of the nonprofit Afghanistan-U.S. Democratic Peace and Prosperity Council (DPPC) regarding a notification from US Army Contracting Command for the purchase of bulk ground fuel for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. The report raises allegations of illegal activities by the Afghan forces and recommends that the US turn to “legitimate and qualified” businesses in Afghanistan. The council is funded by an Afghan businessman, Mohammad Gul Raoufi. Jake Perry is a former top adviser to then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). His is one of four firms registered to lobby for the council.

“The DPPC strongly recommends that the U.S. Army Contracting Command limits its engagement on the Bulk Ground Fuel contract to companies that are rigorously vetted, have a demonstrated ability to and history of consistently and reliably performing the scope of work and are committed to a contracting process free from corruption and illegality,” the white paper states. The council is headed by executive director Martin Rahmani in Washington. Three Afghan lawmakers sit on its advisory board: Mir Haider AfzalyNaheed Farid and Haji Ajmal Rahmani.

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Singapore: The Singapore Tourism Board received $1.3 million from Singapore to promote tourism to the country in the six months through March. The board also registered Vice President of Marketing and Leisure Trade Glenn Koh and Assistant Marketing Manager Ryleigh Hazen with the US Justice Department as foreign agents. Koh oversees the operations of the board’s office New York office while Hazen conducts marketing for meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions.

Middle East

Egypt: Brownstein Hyatt is helping distribute a fact sheet from the Egyptian Embassy’s fact sheet about the country’s new regulations on the activities of
nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The embassy calls the regulations enacted in January, which apply to a law that was passed in 2019, a “significant turning point, creating a more favorable environment for civil society work in Egypt.” Critics such as Human Rights Watch have denounced the law’s steep fines for non-compliance and detailed reporting requirements as an effort to shackle civil society. A previous iteration of the law in 2017 was denounced by key members of Congress.

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Israel: President Donald Trump‘s impeachment lawyer Alan Dershowitz is once again lobbying to lift sanctions on Israeli mining magnate Dan Gertler over his alleged role in contributing to corruption in the Democratic Republic of the Congo under former President Joseph Kabila. Alan Dershowitz Consulting registered as a lobbyist for Gertler effective Jan. 1, according to a new lobbying filing. Dershowitz previously represented Gertler via Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan along with former FBI director Louis Freeh until the Trump administration lifted sanctions in January. The Joe Biden administration promptly reinstated the sanctions last month after an outcry from human rights activists and several former Trump administration officials.

Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan remains registered to lobby for Gertler but did not report any activity in the first quarter of the year. The firm has disclosed $100,000 in payments from Gertler since it started representing him in October 2018.

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Libya: Mercury Public Affairs has registered senior associate Miran Hassan on its contract with Libya’s new Government of National Unity (GNU). Hassan joins 11 others on the account, including former Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and former Rep. Toby Moffett (D-Conn.). Mercury first registered to lobby for the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) for $2 million per year back in April 2019. Since March 30, the firm has had a month-to-month contract with Mercury International UK  to represent the GNU, the provisional authority aimed at unifying rival power centers ahead of elections planned for December.

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Turkey: Mehmet Ali Yalcindag, the chairman of the Turkey-US Business Council (TAIK), wrote to Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm on April 19 to congratulate her on her confirmation. In the letter Yalcindag pitched a US-Turkey Free Trade Agreement and enhanced cooperation in four areas — liquified natural gas (LNG), digital, electronics and joint projects in Africa — “to help Turkish companies in those industries successfully integrate into US supply chains and reduce US reliance on China.”

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Business lobbying

Evraz (United Kingdom): EVRAZ North America, the US subsidiary of UK-based steel producer and mining company EVRAZ, hired Strategic Marketing Innovations (SMI) effective Feb. 19 to lobby Congress on research and development of military supplies. The firm received $10,000 from EVRAZ during the first quarter of the year. SMI Vice President William Berl is the only registered lobbyist on the account. This is the firm’s only current lobbying contract.

Mauser (Germany): Mercury Public Affairs terminated its contract with Mayer Brown on behalf of German gun maker Mauser on Feb. 28. The firm was hired for the month of February and received $20,000 to help Mauser engineers in Spain obtain US visas. Former Rep. Toby Moffett (D-Conn.) lobbied on the account.

Raiffeisen Bank International (Austria): The DCI Group terminated its contract with Austrian banking group Raiffeisen Bank International on March 31. The firm lobbied the office of President Joe Biden regarding banking and financial institution regulations. DCI had been registered to lobby for the bank since October 2019 and disclosed $30,000 in payments since then. Ryan Grillo, a former staff assistant for Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), was the only registered lobbyist on the account. This was Raiffeisen’s only lobbying contract.


Caught our eye

Several ambassadors of African nations to the US are asking their respective diasporas to promote the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), the Washington Diplomat reports. The treaty, which took effect Jan. 1, aims to create a single African market by eliminating tariffs on almost all goods by 2022. Of the 55 members of the African Union, all but Eritrea have signed the AfCFTA, which is headquartered in Ghana.

“This is the time,” Ghana’s ambassador to the US Barfour Adjei-Barwuah said at a recent press conference. “Africa has more resources than the rest of the world put together. We have a very young, expanding population with a voracious appetite for virtually everything. For those are into trading and manufacturing, the markets of the future are in Africa.”

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