USA lobbyist admits to foreign donation scheme tied to Trump inauguration
02 September, 2018, 18:44 | Author: Sheila Harris
A ME native and a business associate of a key figure in the investigation into former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafortpleaded guilty Friday to failing to register as a foreign agent for a Ukrainian political party.
Manafort is scheduled to face a second set of criminal charges regarding his failure to register his foreign lobbying and alleged involvement in a Ukrainian money laundering conspiracy at another federal trial in Washington, D.C. on September 24.
Mr. Patten's work for the Opposition Bloc was done in conjunction with Konstantin V. Kilimnik, a Russian national who served as Mr. Manafort's longtime deputy on the ground in Kiev. Earlier this month, Manafort was convicted on eight counts of bank and tax fraud arising from the Mueller investigation.
In 2015, Patten and his company began advising the Opposition Bloc, a Ukrainian political party in which Paul Manafort acted as political consultant before serving as Donald Trump's campaign chairman in 2016.
Prosecutors say that Patten "solicited a United States citizen to act as a "straw" purchaser" in order to hide the source of the money for the tickets.
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. They were lead Manafort prosecutor Andrew Weissmann and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents Omer Meisel and Brock Domin. His defense attorney declined to comment following the hearing.
Patten pleaded to the count before Judge Amy Berman Jackson in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
According to the charging document, Patten made over $1 million while illegally lobbying on behalf of Ukraine's pro-Russia Opposition Bloc party and a Ukrainian oligarch between 2014 and 2018. He is a Russian national who had worked closely with Manafort in Ukraine and is suspected by the United States of having ties to Russian intelligence.
The charge was brought by the US attorney's office in the capital.
Patten's ties to Kilimnik are more concrete. The businessman is not named and referred to only as "Foreigner B".
In 2014, Patten wrote an op-ed for The Hill in the lead-up to the Ukrainian elections in which he called for "political balance" that did not ostracize the opposition bloc.
Begemot, which is Russian for "behemoth", matches details of the unidentified firm that prosecutors say received cash for Patten's Ukraine work.
Patten was released on his own recognizance Friday without a sentencing date.
In an 2017 interview with The Washington Post, Patten said he met Kilimnik in Moscow more than 15 years ago, when Kilimnik was an employee of the International Republican Institute, a pro-democracy group affiliated with the Republican Party.
Patten also reportedly worked at the OR office of Cambridge Analytica's parent company, SCL Group, on voter targeting in the US 2014 midterm election cycle, according to the Daily Beast, which said he described his work as developing "microtargeting" technologies "adopted by at least one major USA presidential candidate".
Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News.
Patten was charged by a criminal information, which indicates that he waived indictment and will most likely plead guilty to the charge against him.
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