The UK Government has introduced the Foreign Influence Registration Scheme (FIRS) as an amendment under the National Security Bill granting police the power to monitor the financial accounts of individuals suspected of 'corrupt financial' influence on behalf of a foreign entity or government by identifying the suspects' UK financial accounts and tracking them down. Furthermore, the police force will be able to compel individuals or organisations to provide relevant information, produce documents and answer questions relating to an investigation into foreign 'threat activity'.
Anyone who acts for a foreign power or entity without political influencing activity will be criminally charged except for those individuals providing legal services who will not be required to register as agents of a foreign power.
Overall, the introduction of this new legislation will increase transparency of political influencing activity being carried out for a foreign power or entity as well as help safeguard UK democratic institutions from covert influence and better inform the UK as to the nature, scale and extend of foreign influence in the pollical affairs, the UK Government has announced.
The Foreign Influence Registration Scheme will be two-tiered. Primary tier will require the registration of pollical influence activities within the UK at the direction of a foreign power or entity requiring the individual to declare with whom they are in an arrangement with and when it was made and the type of activity they have been directed in undertaking.
As aforementioned, for the individuals that register, exceptions will be made to those providing legal services but additionally the scheme will also grant exceptions to those individuals working for a foreign power in their official capacity, those with diplomatic immunity, those working for news publishers and those in an arrangement to which the UK government is party with.
Failure to register or to give false information would be punished by up to two years' imprisonment, a fine or both as a result.
The second tier, known as the 'enhanced tier' will allow the home secretary to specify a foreign power or foreign power-controlled entity where necessary to protect the safety or interests of the UK, and with parliamentary approval, make it an offence for an anyone to carry out any activity in the UK at their direction without it being registered. For anyone in breach, it would result in up to five years imprisonment, a fine or both.