(Reuters) – A former prosecutor for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation has been tapped to step up the U.S. government’s enforcement of a rarely prosecuted law on foreign lobbying, a senior Justice Department official said on Wednesday.
Brandon Van Grack, a prosecutor in the Justice Department’s national security division who was on Mueller’s team until August, will lead the effort to enforce the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), the official said.
“We have increased our focus into FARA prosecutions,” John Demers, Assistant Attorney General for the national security division, told lawyers at the American Bar Association’s annual white collar crime conference, held this year in New Orleans.
Demers said Van Grack would lead a team of attorneys and administrative staff that would focus on making sure the FARA law, which requires disclosure of lobbying on behalf of foreign interests, is more aggressively enforced.
Demers portrayed the move as a “big shift” in strategy for the Justice Department. He said there are companies acting on behalf of foreign powers which have been resistant to registering as lobbyists and must be prodded into compliance.
Van Grack was one of the lead prosecutors on Mueller’s cases against former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman for President Donald Trump. Both prosecutions involved FARA violations.
(Reporting by Karen Freifeld and Suzanne Barlyn in New Orleans and Nathan Layne in Washington; Editing by Alistair Bell)