USA charges associate of indicted Russian with lobbying violation

Monday, 03 Sep, 2018

He worked in the oil sector in Kazakhstan in the mid-to-late 1990s and served as ME campaign director for George W. Bush's 2000 presidential campaign.

Along with being an associate of Manafort's and an employee at the OR office of Cambridge Analytica's parent company, Patten was also an old friend and regular business associate of Konstantin Kilimnik, a man suspected of having ties to Russian intelligence.

Manafort was recently convicted on eight counts of tax fraud, bank fraud, and failure to report foreign bank accounts.

Court papers don't refer to Kilimnik by name, but say Patten worked with a Russian national.

Patten was charged by way of a criminal information, a document that can only be filed with a defendant's consent and that typically signals a guilty plea is planned.

In court documents, prosecutors allege that Patten also worked with the two foreigners to help "Foreigner B" make an illegal contribution to Trump's Inauguration.

The goal all along, according to prosecutors, was to influence US policy.

Patten represented the Opposition Bloc, a Ukrainian political party and its members, including a prominent oligarch, according to court records.

Prosecutors describe Foreigner A as a "Russian national" who partnered with Patten to create a political consulting company, "Company A", split 50-50. Patten is said to have been compensated in excess of $1 million for his work on behalf of the pro-Russian group between 2014-2017. Their names made headlines past 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. He did so on behalf of a Ukrainian businessman who wanted to contribute to Trump's inauguration.

Michael Zeldin, a former federal prosecutor, predicted Patten will be a witness in the D.C. trial. Patten did not speak to reporters at the court, but apologized to family and friends on Facebook after entering his plea.

The move circumvented United States law prohibiting foreigners from providing money to an organization running the inauguration.

The charging document does not state whether Patten succeeded in setting up the meetings. He also gave "misleading testimony" about his representation of foreigners in the U.S.to hide that he had failed to register as a foreign agent with the Justice Department.

Working alongside an unnamed Russian national, Patten set up meetings with members of Congress and their staff, as well as the executive branch, in 2015, according to the document.

Patten has agreed to cooperate with investigators as part of a plea deal.

"Due to concerns about certain statements made by Mr. Patten, the Committee made a criminal referral to the Department of Justice". A sentencing date has not been set. Mr. Patten faces up to five years in prison and a fine of up to US$250,000.

Patten appeared in court Friday morning before Judge Amy Berman Jackson, the same judge who is handling Manafort's trial which is scheduled to begin next month.