PNCR says no legal hurdles for operating in the US; calls NAR’s refusal to obey instructions a “power grab”

Last Updated on Sunday, 26 May 2024, 9:08 by Writer

–no need for FARA registration, no US legal advice sought

Mr Sherwood Lowe

The People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) on Sunday rejected outrightly assertions by the Chairman of the North American Region (NAR), Ellen Tappin that the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) members could be jailed and fined if they seek to exercise control over groups or persons that are not registered under United States federal law.

PNCR Public Relations Director, Sherwood Lowe said the matter was discussed more than 18 months ago and during that period, the party sought legal advice from attorneys-at-law Gary Best and Amanza Walton-Desir who said the US Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) posed no legal stumbling blocks.

“The party went through all of that and concluded it is not an issue. It is not a problem and, therefore, should proceed to have groups in Canada and the US and the UK without any legal jeopardies,” he told Demerara Waves Online News. Mr Lowe said no advice was sought from lawyers in the United States. “We had no need to go to US lawyers because nobody wrote us,” he said.

He said no questions were asked by any official of the American government that caused the PNCR to consider the issue at length. Instead, he said the claim of legal humbug surfaced when NAR, which later became an incorporated entity in the US, had refused to carry out the PNCR’s Central Executive and General Council instruction to readmit a group from Queens, New York. The reason cited, he said, was that NAR Inc was operating under US law.

Charging that the NAR Chairman was using Demerara Waves Online News to peddle falsehood, Mr Lowe stressed repeatedly that “the party knows it can operate without any legal jeopardies that Tappin is claiming” and there was no need to register with FARA. He said there was no such registration under several PNCR Leaders for several decades.

Mr Lowe accused NAR Inc of hatching a “power grab”, even as he suggested that Ms Tappin and her organisation had been already isolated. He said 90 percent or about 20 of the 22 PNCR’s groups in the US were with the party and had expressed a willingness to comply with the party.

According to Mr Lowe, NAR Inc took a position after it was registered in the US that “we are beholden to the party, we can call our own shots”. Asked why the PNCR did not take disciplinary action against Ms Tappin and Mr Errol Lewis for alleged infractions, the Public Relations Director said the leadership, including party leader Aubrey Norton, instead opted to meet with NAR on several occasions to mediate their differences.

He said the PNCR was faced with no other alternative but to derecognise NAR Inc and take steps to have a Regional Committee in the US in keeping with the PNCR’s constitution. “If the party says you must do this, you must do this,” he added.

While the PNCR was willing to accept that NAR would be registered as a non-profit organisation in the US, Mr Lowe said it was expected that it would have been able to execute its political work such as fund-raising, obtaining and sending supplies on behalf of the PNCR.

The NAR Chairman earlier this week informed the PNCR General Secretary, Dawn Hastings-Williams that neither NAR Inc nor the Derrick Lawrence-led steering committee could legally function on behalf of the PNCR unless it was registered under FARA. She also said the Central Executive Committee members could be convicted and imprisoned for up to 10 years and required to pay millions of dollars in civil liabilities if they exercised control over groups or persons in the US that are not registered under FARA.

The US Congressional Service says FARA was enacted to require individuals doing political or advocacy work on behalf of foreign entities in the United States to register with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and to disclose their relationship, activities, receipts, and disbursements in support of their activities.

FARA states that an agent of a foreign principal is an individual or organization who directly or through any other person— engages within the United States in political activities for or in the interests of such foreign principal; acts within the United States as a public
relations counsel, publicity agent, information service employee or political consultant for or in the interests of such foreign principal; within the United States solicits, collects, disburses, or dispenses contributions, loans, money, or other things of value for or in the interest of such
foreign principal; or within the United States represents the interests of such foreign principal before any agency or official of the government of the United States.