This is a translation of the law that was approved on Oct 15, 2020
LAW FOR THE REGULATION OF FOREIGN AGENTS
(approved by the National Assembly October 15, 2020)
Article 1 Purpose
The current law has the purpose of establishing the legal regulatory framework applicable to national natural or legal persons, or from another nationalities, who responding to foreign interests and obtaining foreign financing, use those resources to carry out activities that lead to the meddling of foreign governments, organizations or natural foreign persons in the internal and external affairs of Nicaragua, undermining the independence, self-determination and national sovereignty, as well as the economic and political stability of the country.
Article 2 Sphere of application
The current law is applicable to natural and legal persons considered to be obligated subjects, as well as foreign capital or financial resources, goods, assets and objects of value connected to them.
Article 3 Definitions
Notwithstanding the definitions that may be established in the norms that are derived from the current law, the following definitions are established:
- Publicity Agent: Natural or legal person that is directly or indirectly dedicated to the publication or dissemination of oral, visual, graphic, written or pictorial materials, or any other type of material, including the publication through announcements, books, newspapers, conferences, transmissions, movies, information and communication technologies or others.
- Foreign Agent: Natural or legal person, Nicaraguan or of another nationality, who within Nicaragua receives funds, assets or any object of value coming directly or indirectly, from foreign natural persons, governments, agencies, foundations, societies or associations, no matter what type or nature they may be, who work, receive funds or respond to organizations that belong to or are controlled, directly or indirectly, by foreign natural persons, governments or entities, except the exemptions anticipated in this law.
- Competent Authority: Ministry of the Interior responsible for the regulation, supervision and sanction on matters of Foreign Agents through the designated body for that purpose.
- Foreign Capital: Refers to capital, funds, assets and objects of value from a Government of a foreign country, from a foreign political party, from a foreign natural or legal person, be it a society, association, corporation, organization or other combination of people organized according to the law, or that have their principal office in a foreign country.
- Political Consultant: Person who is dedicated to informing or advising another natural or legal person in terms of national or international policies of Nicaragua, with a political interest and purpose of having an impact on them, in the name of or in favor of a foreign natural or legal person, a Government, or foreign political party.
- Employee of Information Services: Person who is dedicated to supplying, disseminating or publishing stories, descriptions, information or data related to the benefits, advantages, facts or conditions of a political, industrial, labor, economic, social, cultural nature or of any other type from any country which is not Nicaragua, from any Government from a foreign country or from a foreign political party or society, association, corporation, organization or any other combination of organized people in accordance with the laws of a foreign country, or that have their principal office in that country.
- Foreign client: Refers to a Government from a foreign country, a foreign political party; a foreign natural or legal person be it a society, association, corporation, organization or other combination of organized people according to the law or that have their principal office in a foreign country.
- Public Relationist: Natural or legal person who is directly or indirectly involved in informing, advising or in any manner representing a foreign client in any matter with political or public interests, in terms of that client, including the development of strategies of communication, organization and development of events, image programs and media monitoring.
- Registration of Foreign Agents: The Entirety of ordered and systematized information that the Ministry of the Interior maintains through the body designated for that purpose, responsible for the regulation, supervision and sanction in matters of Foreign Agents.
Article 4 Obligated Subjects
Obligated subjects in accordance with the current law are any natural Nicaraguan person, or from another nationality or legal person who, within Nicaragua, performs or works as an agent, representative, employee, attendant, or in any other activity under the order, requirement, instruction, direction, supervision, control of a foreign organization or of a natural or legal person, whose activities are directly or indirectly supervised, directed, controlled, financed or subsidized completely or in part by foreign natural persons, Governments, capital, businesses or funds directly or through third natural or legal parties.
Likewise, people who within Nicaragua act as advisers, public relationists, employees of information services or political consultants for or in the interest of foreign natural or legal persons, Governments, foundations, businesses, societies or associations; who request, collect, receive, employ in any manner or disburse funds, contributions, loans, money or any other things of value for or in the interest of foreign natural persons, Governments, agencies, foundations, businesses or organizations; or directly or indirectly represent the interests of foreign natural persons, Governments, foundations or organizations before any ministry, public entity, official business or organizations of the State of the Republic of Nicaragua.
Natural or legal persons exempted from this law do not form part of the obligated subjects.
Article 5 Exceptions
Exempt from the scope of the application of the current law are:
- Resident pensioners and Retirees in accordance with Law 694, Law for the Promotion of Income from Resident Pensioners and Retirees.
- Natural persons who receive family remittances, understood as family remittance what the Central Bank determines for that effect through a Resolution of the Board of Directors
- Foreign productive and commercial enterprises with subsidiaries or branches in Nicaragua;
- Factories, industries and supermarket chains from foreign investment, their workers and service providers.
- People who establish commercial relationships under conditions of valid commercial Agreements, Treaties, Covenants, particularly investments, service provision and temporary entry of business people, in accordance with the current legislation on the matter;
- Intergovernmental organizations of a humanitarian nature, as well as Missions, Diplomatic and Consular, International and Regional Organizations, International Aid agencies and the staff of those entities, duly accredited in Nicaragua in accordance with the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Relations and Consular Relations and signed and valid agreements with International and Regional organizations.
- International social communications media and their reporters, and
- Legal persons of a religious nature who are duly registered before the Ministry of the Interior based on law 147, General Law on Legal non-profit persons.
In this sense the current Law does not affect valid commercial agreements nor treaties nor those that could be signed in the future. Nor foreign investments, nor connected natural or legal persons or those who carry out strictly economic or commercial activities or those related to foreign investments.
In the case that persons exempted by the current law enter into carrying out activities that lead to the meddling of foreign natural or legal persons, Governments, or organizations in the internal and external affairs of Nicaragua, the corresponding dispositions of the current legislation will be applied.
Registration of Foreign Agents
Article 6 Registration of Foreign Agents.
Let the Registry of Foreign Agents be created, which will be under the responsibility of the Ministry of the Interior through the designated body for such purpose. In this Registry should be inscribed all obligated subjects and provide the information that is required of them in accordance with what is regulated in the current law and the respective norms.
Article 7 Competent Authority
The competent authority for the application of this law is the Ministry of the Interior through the designated body for such purpose, that has the faculties for regulation, supervision and sanction in this matter. The Ministry will reorganize itself administratively to put together the corresponding body for the development and functioning of the Registry of Foreign Agents.
Public, private or mixed entities are obligated to collaborate with the competent authority at its request, for the purpose of ensuring compliance with the current law.
Article 8 Faculties of the competent authority
The faculties of the organ for the application of the current law are the following:
- Administer the Registry of Foreign Agents in accordance with the dispositions contained in the current law.
- Receive detailed and documented reports from Foreign Agents:
- Request and receive from Foreign Agents all the information necessary to ensure the application of the Law
- Regulate, verify and supervise the activities and compliance with the obligations of Foreign Agents
- Require the registry of natural and legal persons that act as Foreign Agents
- Process consultations from natural or legal persons about their registration in the Registry of Foreign Agents
- Issue the corresponding norms for the regulation, supervision and sanctions for Foreign Agents
- Apply the sanctions that correspond to Foreign Agents for non-compliance with the dispositions of the law and norms
- Coordinate with relevant bodies to ensure effective compliance with the current law and the current legal framework
- Any other measure that the current law and respective regulations determine.
Article 9 Obligation of information on use and purpose of assets
Foreign agents are obligated to report to the competent authority prior to any transfer of funds or assets that they are going to receive directly or indirectly from foreign natural persons, Governments, agencies, foundations, organizations, societies or associations whatever type of nature they may be, for carrying out their activities as foreign agents, having to express in that report the use and purpose of those funds.
Likewise, they must provide identification data of the foreign government or governments, foreign political parties and their connected entities, natural or legal persons that they finance, provide funds or in any other way facilitate economic and material means, or any other type of means, to carry out their work as foreign agent. This information will be public.
The competent authority must review and analyze whether the information presented by the foreign agent is satisfactory.
Article 10 Presentation of reports
Natural or legal persons who perform as foreign agents must present monthly to the competent authority a documented, detailed and verifiable report of expenses, payments, disbursements, contracts and the rest of the activities connected to their performance as foreign agents. The total expenses must correspond with the amount of income and assets received.
Article 11 Use of donations
The donations that natural or legal persons inscribed in the Registry of Foreign Agents receive will not be able to be used to finance activities not previously declared. In the case of legal persons such donations cannot be used in activities that do not correspond with the purposes and objectives established in their Charter and Statutes.
These activities will not be able to be carried out without prior registration in the web portal that the competent authority establishes for said purpose, and they will not be able to change the declared purpose for which they received the funds, without prior notice to the competent authority.
Article 12 On Anonymous donations
Natural or legal persons inscribed in the Registry of Foreign Agents cannot receive donations, funds or material assets of any type coming from anonymous sources or people.
Article 13 Financial resources and material goods
Financial resources must be received and channeled through any supervised and/or regulated financial institution that is duly registered in Nicaragua. Material goods coming from outside the country must comply with the legislation concerning customs.
Article 14 Concerning Foreign Agents
Natural or legal persons, Nicaraguans or of other nationalities who act as foreign agents must abstain, under penalty of legal sanctions, from intervening in matters, activities or topics of internal and external policy. Nor can they finance or promote the financing of any type of organization, movement, political party, political coalitions or alliances or associations that carry out internal political activities in Nicaragua.
In the case of natural persons, they cannot be functionaries, public employees or candidates to public posts of any type or nature. This impediment will end one year after the competent authority has approved the withdrawal from the Registry of Foreign Agents, which will be done once accredited before the competent authority that effectively and in a documented way the person has quit being a foreign agent.
The presentation of false documents or evidence is sufficient cause to incur in administrative and penal responsibilities depending on the case, determined by the respective entities.
Article 15 Non-compliance for not registering
When the competent authority becomes aware of the existence of natural or legal persons who act as foreign agents and have not complied with the obligation of registering, it will proceed to notify the duty of complying with said obligation within a term of no longer than 5 days.
In the case that natural or legal persons have not registered, once the term indicated in the previous paragraph has passed, the competent authority will apply fines, will be able to request the cancelation of the legal status of the respective body, in the case of legal persons. All without affecting the penal responsibilities for carrying out acts that threaten the sovereign security of the nation, determined by the judicial authority.
In any case, the refusal to register authorizes the competent authority to block the realization of the activities, and after judicial authorization, it will be able to intervene in the funds and assets of the natural or legal person that refuses to comply with the law.
Transitory and final dispositions
Article 16 Transitory
Obligated subjects must be inscribed in the Registry of Foreign Agents within a term of 60 working days, starting with the effective date of this law.
Obligated subjects will not be able to carry out movements of financial resources nor material goods until they have complied with the obligation of registering in the established period.
Article 17 Complementary application
To ensure the effective application of the current law, the competent authority will apply the corresponding dispositions of the following laws in a complementary way:
- Law 976, Financial Analysis Unit Law, whose complete text was published in La Gaceta No 190 on Oct 7, 2019;
- Law 977, Law Against Laundering of Assets, Financing for Terrorism and Financing for the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, whose complete text was published in La Gaceta No 165 on Aug 29, 2019; and
- Decree 14-2018, Regulations of Law 976, Financial Analysis Unit Law, published in La Gaceta No 190, on October 3, 2018.
The public officials who know about the reception of funds on the part of foreign agents and the supervised financial institutions that receive the financial resources for the Foreign Agents must report to the Financial Analysis Unit, in accordance with the current legislation in effect.
Article 18 Norms
The competent authority will issue the necessary norms for executing the regulation, supervision and sanction of Foreign Agents.
Article 19 Publication and validity
The current law will enter into force based on its publication in La Gaceta.
Issued in the Session Hall of the National Assembly, in the city of Managua on the fifteenth day of the month of October of the year two thousand twenty.