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Rediff.com  » Business » Iran trade: RIL pays Rs 1 cr to US lobbyist

Iran trade: RIL pays Rs 1 cr to US lobbyist

April 30, 2009 17:04 IST

India's top corporate entity Reliance Industries, which faces possible penalties by the Barack Obama administration for its business ties with Iran, has paid about Rs 1 crore (Rs 10 million) for lobbying among US lawmakers.

The payment of $1,90,000 to a high-profile lobbyist firm in Washington, BGR Holding, was made by RIL in the first quarter of 2009, and is the first instance of any lobbying by the Indian company with the US lawmakers.

Barbour Griffith & Rogers, which registered itself as a lobbyist for RIL in January 2009 itself, has disclosed its lobbying-related income of $190,000 from the Indian company in a disclosure filed with the Senate and the House of Representatives for the first quarter of 2009.

In its disclosure report, BGR has named 'trade (domestic/foreign) as the general issue areas where it is lobbying on behalf of RIL and has said that it provided strategic counsel on issues related to trade.'

The lobbyist has named the US House of Representatives and the US Senate among the houses and agencies for these lobbying activities.

BGR lobbyists have previously served in the White House and Congress and also in other senior positions at various other agencies and the firm is known to have been effective at stopping or changing many policies considered to be harmful for its clients. Its client list comprises of many Fortune 500 companies, foreign governments and trade associations.

The disclosure about RIL's lobbying expenses comes in the midst of the Senate as also the House of Representatives debating new bills that authorise Obama to put strong penalties, including a ban on doing business in the US, against the companies supplying petroleum products to Iran.

RIL, along with five other European companies, have been named by the US lawmakers for action for doing business with Iran.

Except for RIL and two European firms -- British Petroleum and Trafigura -- no records of lobbying expenses in the same period could be found for the other companies named by the US lawmakers for possible penalties.

Earlier on Tuesday, the senators moved a new bill to strengthen President Barack Obama's authority for stopping Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons through their proposed legislation by targeting foreign companies that sell gasoline or other refined petroleum products to Iran.

The bill came within days of another resolution introduced in the House of Representatives on April 21 to enhance the Obama administration's diplomatic efforts with respect to Iran by expanding economic sanctions against the country.

Both the bills have been referred to various House and Senate committees, including those on foreign affairs, financial services and oversight and government reforms.

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