POLITICO Quotes Matthew Sanderson on Lack of FARA Charges for Richard Olson
FARA FRIDAY: When news broke earlier this week that former U.S. diplomat Richard Olson planned to plead guilty to violating lobbying and ethics rules for his work on influence efforts on behalf of the Qatari government, the lack of FARA charges in the case quickly raised eyebrows around town.
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It’s possible that though prosecutors could show Olson violated FARA in the arrangement, they could not prove that the former ambassador knowingly and willfully did so, which is the standard for bringing a FARA case, said Matthew Sanderson of Caplin & Drysdale, who advises clients on foreign lobbying law.
“I don't know that there's anything to do other than speculate at this stage,” he said in an interview, but it’s much more cut and dried to prove Olson failed to disclose gifts. “With the post-employment restriction, it's not a knowing and willful violation in order to be rung up for that, whereas FARA requires knowing the law and knowing that you didn't register,” Sanderson told PI. “This just requires, you know, representing a foreign government.”
“Maybe they just decided to take the easier wins on those two fronts,” he said of federal prosecutors.
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