The Cambridge, Massachusetts consulting firm was started in the mid-1980’s by a group of Harvard Business School professors. Monitor Group used its Harvard connections to land high-profile business and government contracts for its international operations.
One multi-million dollar client was Libyan dictator Muammar Khadafy,
Monitor Group’s work for the Libyan regime involved economic advice, recommendations on overhaul of the secret police apparatus, operation of a “visitor” program which skirted lobbyist registration requirements, work on a flattering biography of Khadafy, ghostwriting one of Khadafy’s son’s doctoral thesis, and doing public relations work for Libya in the wake of the torture of Bulgarian nurses doing humanitarian work in the country.
The Foreign Agent Registration Act, ignored by Monitor Group, requires individuals and businesses doing work for foreign governments to register with the Department of Justice.
Monitor Group spokesman Eammon Kelly told Boston radio station WBUR on Tuesday that, “We were working under the policy of the U.S. government as we understood it.”
International law attorney Jonathan Levy, familiar with the Department of Justice reporting requirements, doesn’t accept the idea that Monitor was ignorant of the foreign agent requirements but thinks the company made a calculated risk to ignore the law.
Levy said today: “Taking money from any “former” sponsor of international terrorism to promote “democracy” is always a risk. It is even riskier when the client is run by someone who calls himself titles like “King of Kings” and “Brother Leader” and has dabbled in Weapons of Mass Destruction.”
“I suspect it was a case of due diligence be damned and double the fees for building democratic institutions in Libya,” said Levy.
“After all, bottom line, these guys are no worse than the oil companies or Tony Blair who released the Lockerbie bomber in return for oily favors.” Levy added, “But if Monitor tried to influence public officials in the United States, it sure could be lobbying.”
After Jonathan Levy’s earlier pronouncement in March that the Monitor Group was likely under investigation by the Department of Justice, the firm issued a statement on its Libyan work indicating the company hired “external legal counsel” to review the matter.
Monitor Group spokesman Kelly said, “We don’t know the answer yet.”
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