Following the Department of Justice’s announcement in March 2019 of an initiative to increase enforcement of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (“FARA”), the Department began rolling out a new electronic filing system for FARA registrations in September 2019. At that time, as Covington reported, the new system applied only to new registrants, and the Department indicated that it would transition all filers to the new system over time. It now appears that the Department has begun to move some existing registrants to the new system.
Recently, Covington noticed that some existing registrants are being directed to a new e-file system when logging into the Department’s website. This new system provides online forms for various filings, including supplemental statements, exhibits, amendments, short forms, informational materials, and more. Similar to the manner in which the Department replaced the old PDF form for the initial registration with the online system in September 2019, the Department has now replaced the remaining PDF forms with this new online system for some registrants.
It is not exactly clear which registrants have been moved to the new system. We have found that some existing registrants continue to be directed to the old system. That system, which has been in place for more than a decade, provides a process for uploading PDF forms and attachments created by the registrant. As best we can tell, registrants that completed an initial registration under the new system – i.e., those that registered for the first time after last September – were the first to be moved to this new system for the rest of the FARA forms.
The new system has a few notable additions. As noted in our prior alert, the Department is requiring that filers submit a scan of a “wet” signature on a DOJ template for filings submitted through the new system. The system also has a new “Review and Validate Incomplete Tasks” function for registrants to review pending tasks regarding amendments or supplemental statements, and a more streamlined process for providing updated information about officers and directors of the registrant. There does not appear to be a method for submitting a cover letter to a filing. The prior system permitted the inclusion of a cover letter, which registrants often used to provide ancillary or explanatory information to the Department.
Covington will continue to monitor developments to the e-file system and post updates regarding this new system as they become available.