By John Helmer, Moscow
US statutes require the registration of American agents who are acting for foreign companies or foreign individuals in an attempt to influence US legislation, political debate, or government decision-making in favour of their clients’ interests. Camouflage and concealment are unlawful, and can verge on espionage in the minds of some US prosecutors.
Lobbying is generally legal, so long as the lobbying activities themselves – letter-writing, meeting officials, donations to political campaigns, etc. — are registered and regularly reported to the Foreign Agents Registration unit (FARA) at the US Department of Justice in Washington.
A required new filing to the Justice Department by Adam Waldman, a Washington lobbyist for Oleg Deripaska, discloses that there has been recent correspondence between Waldman and his company Endeavor Group, and the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov.
Waldman revealed a year ago he was being paid a retainer of $40,000 per month to represent Deripaska’s effort to end the US ban on his entry visa and other issues. Here is the full story.
On September 15, Lavrov wrote to Waldman. On October 6, Waldman filed the letter at the Justice Department, along with his explanation of what he plans to do with it. According to Waldman’s answers to the Justice Department questionnaire:
This is the Minister’s letter from the Justice Department files:
Last December 31, Deripaska made claims about his freedom to travel to the US and other countries. The undertakings were given to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange as part of the official prospectus for the sale of shares of United Company Rusal, the company Deripaska controls as chief executive.
On pages 36 and 37 of the prospectus, this is what Deripaska said about his travel to the US.
“Mr. Deripaska has confirmed to the Company that he had an application for a U.S. visa denied in 1998 pursuant to Section 212(a)(3) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, which relates to aliens deemed ineligible for U.S. visas based on security, unlawful activity and related reasons, and that this position was reiterated in 1999 and 2000. Mr. Deripaska has repeatedly and consistently challenged these denials as being unwarranted and unsupported. He has also confirmed to the Company that he subsequently visited the United States lawfully a number of times. The most recent visits were in August and October 2009. On these occasions, Mr. Deripaska was permitted to enter the United States pursuant to Section 212(d)(5) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, whereby neither his movements nor his activities was restricted. Mr. Deripaska has also confirmed to the Company that, to the best of his knowledge, he is not under investigation by any U.S. authority….While Mr. Deripaska is not subject to any special restrictions on his travel, as a Russian citizen he is subject to ordinary requirements to obtain visas or other permits when traveling outside Russia.”