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Manafort associate charged over illegal lobbying for Ukraine's pro-Russian politicians

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Manafort associate charged over illegal lobbying for Ukraine's pro-Russian politicians

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's ex-associate Sam Patten has been charged with failing to register as a foreign agent in the United States, Bloomberg reports.

W. Samuel Patten appeared in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia where he entered a guilty plea to one count of failing to register as a foreign agent.

According to prosecutors, Patten launched a lobbying firm with an unnamed Russian national in 2015 and began working on behalf of the Ukraine's Opposition Bloc -- a group for whom Manafort also lobbied -- travelling frequently to Ukraine and accepting payments through an offshore account in Cyprus, as Manafort had.

Kilimnik is charged alongside Manafort in a separate criminal case brought in Washington by Mueller.

Patten, therefore, violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutors describe Foreigner A as a "Russian national" who partnered with Patten to create a political consulting company, "Company A", split 50-50.

The case was brought by the USA attorney's office in Washington and the Department of Justice's National Security Division, and not by special counsel Robert Mueller, whose team has been investigating potential coordination between Moscow and the Trump campaign.

The case against Patten was referred to the U.S. attorney's office in DC by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose team has been investigating potential coordination between Moscow and the Trump campaign. The company performed political consulting services and advised a prominent Ukrainian oligarch, labeled "Foreigner B", among others.

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"Patten was aware at the time that the Presidential Inauguration Committee could not accept money from foreign nationals", the charges said.

Manafort later did consulting work for Opposition Bloc, which was set up by former members of the Party of Regions and their financial backers after Yanukovych fled the country in February 2014 amid mass street protests. He also helped a foreign individual draft op-ed columns intended for the US news media, authorities say. Their names made headlines previous year when it emerged that Manafort may have been trying to use his elevated role on the Trump campaign to resolve a longstanding financial dispute with Oleg Deripaska, a Russian-Ukrainian oligarch and aluminum magnate.

The topic came up a year later in January 2018 when Patten testified before the Senate intelligence committee as part of its investigation into Russian election interference and possible coordination with Trump associates.

Patten then attended an inauguration event with the Ukrainian client, the document said.

Patten then worked to find an American citizen to purchase the tickets for $50,000 in total, as a way to circumvent US law, which widely prohibits foreigners from contributing to political activities. The charge carries a maximum prison sentence of five years in prison.

A prosecutor from the DC US Attorney's Office read the charging document made public Friday before the hearing nearly word for word.

Patten surrendered his passport and was released on his own recognizance pending sentencing.

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