PNCR’s Central Executive Committee members could be jailed, fined in US – North American Region Chair

Last Updated on Sunday, 26 May 2024, 9:07 by Writer

-bitter fallout between PNCR and NAR
The People’s National Congress Reform’s (PNCR) decision to cut ties with its North American Region (NAR) over alleged failure to follow instructions and directions, has triggered a warning by NAR Inc that the party’s Central Executive Committee (CEC) members could be jailed in the United States (US) and fined.

NAR Inc Chairman, Ellen Tappin said in her response letter to one by PNCR General Secretary, Dawn Hastings-Williams said that CEC members could face up to 10 years and liable to pay millions of dollars in civil penalties if they seek to exercise control over groups or persons that are not registered under federal law.

“The People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), a political party organized under the laws of Guyana cannot exercise control over the North America Region (NAR), and its affiliates, which are organized under the laws of New York. Madam GS (General Secretary), you are advised
that the attempt by you and the CEC of the PNCR to exercise control over the NAR, a registered organization with the Department of Justice is in violation of US Federal Law. You risk being exposed to the mercy of US law enforcement. Therefore, you are advised to cease and desist,” Ms Tappin said.

Mrs Hastings-Williams on May 21, 2024 told “all PNCR Groups in the USA Region of the PNCR” that NAR “blatantly disregarded the directions of the CEC”, leading ultimately to that body’s decision on April 23, 2023 to sever relations with the New York-based umbrella chapter. “The CEC’s position on NAR is that it failed to operate based on the decisions of the CEC and GC (General Council) and therefore it does not represent the interests and position of the Party and is no longer permitted to operate as a Region of the PNCR in the USA,” she said. The PNCR said its leadership met with the groups and established a steering committee under Mr Derrick Lawrence to “engage all party groups and manage and coordinate the activities of the party in the USA.” Demerara Waves Online News was told on condition of strict anonymity that that decision was taken unanimously by the CEC and it was not put to a vote.

Ms Hastings-Williams, in her letter, said that the PNCR had earlier reviewed the rules developed by the NAR and advised the NAR that it could do Party work but it has to be guided by the PNCR Constitution. However, according to the correspondence, NAR under the
501C (registered as a non-profit organisation that is also tax exempt) must “operate separately”.

The General Secretary noted that NAR “ignored” the PNCR’s “guidance”, but Ms Tappin lashed back at her party telling its General Secretary that that political organisation had no legal right to exercise control over NAR and the NAR affiliates. “Let it be known to you and the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR), a foreign entity is not considered present in New York even when it is under the complete control and domination of a foreign parent. Because the PNCR is a foreign entity, it cannot be considered present in New York or the United States to exercise authority over groups and activities in New York and the United States,” Ms Tappin said.

Ms Tappin, however, justified NAR’s refusal to subject itself to the direction and control of the PNCR in its operation in the United States on the grounds that NAR is not registered as a foreign agent of the PNCR pursuant to the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA). She explained that if NAR wished to subject itself to the directions and control of the PNCR in conducting political activities, public relations, political advocacy and other activities in the US, FARA registration would be required under US federal law.

She also said that under FARA , if the Lawrence-led steering committee was not registered in the US, it could not be regarded as present in New York or the United States and so has no legal power to do anything. “Consequently, it cannot manage NAR affiliates in the United States or possess authority to nullify transactions and events in the United States. Accordingly, the Lawrence Steering Committee has no standing in the United States if not registered in the United States,” Ms Tappin said.

Even after the exchange of correspondence between the NAR Inc Chairman and the PNCR General Secretary, party leader Aubrey Norton on Friday restated the decision by the CEC and the General Council concerning the establishment of the steering committee but, in the interim, the CEC would play a pivotal role in interfacing with the party groups there. “Meantime, while that is happening, they will be in direct contact with the Central Executive and the General Secretary of the party and that process is ongoing,” said Mr Norton, a former foreign service officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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.