DATAPOINTS

$0

LOBBYING SPEND (2018)

0

LOBBYING/PR FIRMS

0

REGISTERED AGENTS

AL-MONITOR
LOBBYING RANK

#14 (tie)

Tricuro
(for Port Fund)

Hired: Aug. 2019
Contract: $35,000

NEW Contract

The Russian businesswoman at the center of a $500 million alleged embezzlement scandal in Kuwait has acquired additional representation in the United States and the United Kingdom. Bethesda-based lobby shop Tricuro and its owner, David Sowells, were to be paid $35,000 for one month of work in August to “advocate for clearing Marsha Lazareva of all charges made against her by the Kuwaiti government, through public relations and media relations campaigns.” The Aug. 1 contract is with London-based Sanglier Media. 

Lazareva, a former US resident with family in the United States, is the former CEO of Kuwaiti-based KGL Investments. The firm has launched a multimillion-dollar lobbying campaign to drop the charges and clear her name, working with well-connected US and international political figures including former President George H.W. Bush’s son Neil Bush and former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., to put pressure on Kuwait.

Southfive Strategies
Tricuro subcontractor
(for Port Fund)

Hired: Aug. 2019
Contract: $17,000

NEW Contract

Bethesda-based lobby shop Tricuro hired Jason Epstein, the former director of legislative affairs for the Jewish organization B'nai B'rith International, and his Washington consulting firm Southfive Strategies for $17,000 on the same day Tricuro was hired.

The November Team
Southfive Strategies subcontractor
(for Port Fund)

Hired: Aug. 2019
Contract: $8,500

NEW Contract

Jason Epstein's Southfive Strategies hired New York-based public affairs firm The November Team in August for $8,500. William O’Reilly, a partner at the firm, has registered to work on the contract.

Squire Patton Boggs
Crowell & Moring subcontractor
(for KGL Investment)

Hired: Aug. 2019

NEW Domestic lobbying registration

Squire Patton Boggs has joined the growing army of US lobby firms working for Kuwait’s KGL Investment Company as it seeks to build pressure on Kuwait to drop charges against its former CEO  Marsha Lazareva. Patton Boggs is acting as a subcontractor to Crowell and Moring. Former Senate Majority Leader Trent ​Lott, R-Miss., and Lott’s former chief of staff, Bret Boyles, are expected to lobby on the account. Boyles and Lott also work for Cayman Islands-based Port Link, which manages the Port Fund on behalf of Kuwait’s KGL Investment. 

Marathon Strategies
(for KGL Investment)

Hired: May 2019
Contract: $18,500/month

NEW Agreement

Marathon Strategies, which signed an $18,500-per-month contract with KGL Investment in May, has signed an additional agreement. KGL will pay Marathon $1,050,000 for “research and communications consulting” assets held by Florida-based Global Impact Services. Public records indicate that the firm is managed by Eitan Arusy, a former Israeli intelligence analyst who is perhaps best known for discovering in 2010 that European banks evaded US law by helping Iran move billions of dollars in assets.

Quadripoint Strategies
Venable subcontractor
(for Agility Public Warehousing Company via Venable)

Hired: Aug. 2019

NEW Registered agents
David Crane

Venable has hired Quadripoint Strategies on behalf of Kuwait-based Agility Public Warehousing Company. The registration was effective effective Aug. 30. David Crane, a former senior policy adviser to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., plans to do “general representation” for the company, including “information and education on issues relating to Agility.” This is the fifth firm Agility has hired in the past six months amid an intensifying US legal and public relations fight against its Kuwaiti rival KGL Logistics.

  • Hired: 2018  
  • 2018 fees: $180,000
  • Latest Filing  
  • Registered agents

    • Marc Lampkin
      Shareholder
    • Douglas Maguire
    • R. James Nicholson
      Former Secretary of Veterans Affairs and Republican Party chairman
    • Travis Norton
      Of counsel
    • Ari Zimmerman

    Other Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck clients

  • Hired: 2019  
  • Registered agents

    • David Crane

Lobbyist A-list puts Kuwait on spot over businesswoman's arrest

Editor

Julian Pecquet

@JPecquet_ALM

jpecquet@al-monitor.com
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Julian Pecquet is the Washington Editor for Al-Monitor.

Posted: September 11, 2019

An A-list of former US and international officials is threatening a global backlash against Kuwait over its arrest of a Russian businesswoman with ties to the United States.

Kuwaiti private equity group KGL Investment hired no fewer than six firms between February and April to lobby Washington for the release of former chief executive Marsha Lazareva, who was arrested last year on embezzlement charges related to the firm's Cayman Islands-registered Port Fund. Lazareva, whose mother and young son live in the United States, spent 470 days in jail before being released on bail in June.

Members of some of the world's most powerful political families have taken on the case, including Neil Bush, son of the late President George H.W. Bush; former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's wife Cherie Blair; and Tatyana Yumasheva, the daughter of the late former Russian President Boris Yeltsin. In addition, KGL has hired law firms Crowell & Moring, Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan and Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, along with lobby shops Fahmy Hudome International and Ballard Partners to encourage Congress to consider sanctions against Kuwait under the Global Magnitsky Act. Crowell & Moring in turn hired R & B Strategies, the lobbying shop started by former Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., after his 2018 defeat and paid it $70,000 in the first half of this year.

Lazareva's army of advocates “share my desire to help Kuwait from suffering international reputational damage that continues to threaten your great country,” Bush wrote to Minister of Foreign Affairs Sabah al-Khalid Al Sabah in March ahead of an eight-member delegation in March. “I personally have tremendous respect for you and Kuwait, as does the entire Bush family. I know that you would like to amicably resolve this matter.”

All told, KGL Investment paid out a total of $750,000 in the first half of the year on more than a dozen registered agents, including former FBI director Louis Freeh, President Donald Trump's former Florida lobbyist Brian Ballard and former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. Former House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., now a policy director with Brownstein Hyatt, accompanied the March delegation but is not registered to lobby on the account.

The pressure campaign has prompted a handful of US lawmakers to ask Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to consider sanctions against several members of Kuwait's ruling Al Sabah family. But it’s gained little traction beyond that, with Trump inviting Emir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber Al Sabah to the White House on Sept. 12 to “further strengthen our substantial economic and security ties.”

The Lazareva case has dominated Kuwait-related lobbying for more than a year. After the United Arab Emirates' central bank ordered the freezing of $496 million in Port Fund assets held at Dubai’s state-owned Noro Bank in November 2017 in cooperation with Kuwaiti authorities, the Port Fund hired Squire Patton Boggs, Crowell & Moring, Fahmy Hudome International and Brownstein Hyatt to advocate for the funds' release.

The Port Fund has paid the firms more than $2.8 million from the time they were first hired in July and August 2018. Lobbying contracts with Crowell & Moring, Fahmy Hudome International and Brownstein Hyatt were terminated between February and March 2019 after the UAE released the funds.

A separate KGL entity, KGL Logistics, continues to retain Crowell & Moring and Brownstein Hyatt to lobby regarding its government contracts with the US military. The firm signed a new $1.4 billion deal with the Pentagon in January 2018 to feed US troops in the Middle East that has come under scrutiny over KGL's work with a US-sanctioned Iranian partner. KGL Logistics spent $360,000 on lobbying in 2018 and $340,000 in the first half of 2019.

Meanwhile, another Kuwaiti logistics firm, the Agility Public Warehousing Company, has hired a flurry of lobbyists in its intensifying legal and public relations fight against KGL Logistics in US court. Agility is being sued for sending whistleblower letters to US officials accusing its rival of violating sanctions against Iran. Two of Agility’s law firms in the case, Quinn Emanuel and Skadden Arps, registered as foreign agents for Agility last month along with SGR Government Relations and Lobbying.

Agility previously hired Venable in March and paid the firm $50,000 in the second quarter to lobby Congress on the annual defense authorization bill. Former Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., is one of three registered agents on the account.

Separately, Kuwait's Al Arfaj group hired the Sonoran Policy Group for $1.2 million to provide “promotion and counsel” to the firm. Sonoran's three registered agents on the account will work on the disputed neutral zone between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, whose Wafra and Khafji oil fields can produce 500,000 barrels a day but have been shut down for several years amid a spat between the two countries.

HIGHLIGHTS

No active lobbying

 

$0

Total lobbying and PR spending for 2018

 

 

WINS
  • US backs Kuwaiti mediation in intra-Gulf dispute
  • US pressure campaign against Iran encourages resolution of oil dispute with Saudi Arabia
  • Pentagon arms sales continue
LOSSES
  • Members of Congress threaten sanctions over businesswoman's arrest
  • Logistics contract with US military comes under scrutiny for ties to sanctioned Iranian firm
  • US fails to resolve intra-Gulf dispute

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