US Foreign Agents Act 

#GS2 #International 

The BJP has become the first mainstream political party from India to have named itself as a foreign principal of an organisation in the United States, after the Overseas Friends of the BJP (OFBJP) registered under the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) under the U.S. Department of Justice. 

What is FARA? 

  • The Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) is a United States law passed in 1938 requiring that agents representing the interests of foreign powers in a “political or quasi-political capacity” disclose their relationship with the foreign government and information about related activities and finances. 
  • The FARA requires “agents representing the interests of foreign powers in a political or quasi political capacity [to]disclose their relationship with the foreign government and information about related finances.” 

Implications  

  • Following the registration, the OFBJP will have to declare any meetings with U.S. legislators, organisation of events and funding from U.S. groups. 
  • It will also not be possible for OFBJP members to use organisational help during the U.S. elections as it would then be seen as foreign interference. 
  • Most other entities from India registered under this Act are legal, lobby or public relations firms engaged by the Indian Embassy or the Tourism Department. 

Some well known registrations  

  • An unknown political party from India, (Democratic Party of India) and a TV channel are also registered. Pakistan’s ruling Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI), Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League (N) as well as Bangladesh’s opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) are some of the political parties from the South Asian neighbourhood with FARA registration. 

Background  

  • In April this year the U.S. Department of Justice had announced that it would conduct an FARA enforcement drive with wider scrutiny of all consultants and organisations and sent a number of “deficiency notices”, asking suspected foreign agents to register or stop activity on behalf of foreign entities. 
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