Steptoe reveals deal to lobby Brazilian sugar industry

  • The law firm’s team includes supply chain chief Jeffrey Weiss, billed at $ 1,090 per hour
  • Steptoe’s plea was exposed by Federal Foreign Agent Registration Act

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(Reuters) – Steptoe & Johnson LLP has said in US lobbying statements that it will work for the Brazilian sugar industry, the world’s largest producer and exporter of sugarcane, on issues related to the upcoming United Nations conference on climate change.

The Washington DC-based law firm’s contract with the Brazilian Sugar Cane Industry Association was made public by the US Department of Justice on Friday. U.S. law firms, lobby shops, and public relations officials are required to disclose certain agency contracts with foreign clients under the Foreign Agent Registration Act.

Steptoe’s contract called for the company to charge $ 50,000 for 30 days of work to the association, which is the representative group of companies producing sugar, ethanol and bioelectricity in the south-central region of Brazil, the main sugar belt in the country. Sugar prices hit a four-year high last month amid a frost in Brazil that damaged sugar cane crops.

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Fernando Merino, who signed the contract, identified his hourly rate at $ 995 as the law firm’s general manager of white-collar investigations and defense. Jeffrey Weiss, a Steptoe partner, who leads the company’s supply chain team, charges $ 1,090 per hour, according to the contract.

Merino and Weiss did not immediately return messages seeking comment on Monday.

Steptoe said part of his work for the Sugar Association will include “identifying key stakeholders in the public and private sectors in the US and EU as well as their respective interests and priorities in relation to” the next United Nations climate change conference. The company said it would help the association develop “a strategy for communicating effectively” with key stakeholders ahead of the rally in Glasgow.

Steptoe recorded his plea for the UK Department of Economics and Finance on US trade issues last year. In that disclosure, cabinet chairman and international tax expert Philip West revealed that he was billing $ 1,700 an hour at the time. Large companies often review and adjust tariffs every year.

The company also lobbied for the Dominican Republic and Chinese memory chip maker Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit Co Ltd, according to DOJ files.

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Rachel J. Bradford