Sam Patten, former Manafort associate, charged with illegal lobbying

The reporter went on to say that when she interviewed him earlier in the year, the Manafort associate was "very coy" about his work - and appears to have lied to her about working in the U.S.

Patten was charged via a criminal information, which is a document that prosecutors use when a defendant waives an indictment.

The case sketched out by prosecutors encompassed Patten, a respected Republican operative and consultant whose family was once part of Washington's social elite; money transfers from a Cypriot bank; and a Russian national who had also worked for Paul Manafort, Trump's former campaign manager, and been accused of maintaining ties to Russian intelligence.

Manafort was recently convicted of eight counts of financial crimes in a federal case brought by Mueller's team.

Prosecutors contend Patten should have disclosed the work, which included lobbying and public relations assistance meant to "influence United States policy", with the Justice Department pursuant to the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

US prosecutors said Patten's company was paid $1m for advising Opposition Bloc and lobbying USA politicians on its behalf.

Begemot, which is Russian for "behemoth", matches details of the unidentified firm that prosecutors say received cash for Patten's Ukraine work.

The case was brought by the US 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. Andrew Weissmann, a lawyer on Mueller's team who has been leading the Manafort prosecution, was present in court when Patten pleaded guilty.

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Patten and Konstantin Kilimnik, another Manafort associate, launched what is believed to be "Company A" in 2015.

Patten pleaded guilty earlier Friday to failing to disclose his lobbying on behalf of Ukraine, and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

A court filing said he earned more than $1 million between 2015 and 2017 representing the interests of the Opposition Bloc, which Manafort also previously consulted for. He also helped a foreign individual draft op-ed columns intended for the USA news media, authorities say.

In court, Patten conveyed the air of a solemn man aware of what he had done.

Court papers say Patten orchestrated a $50,000 payment to the inauguration committee through a third party to circumvent restrictions on foreign donations to the inaugural committee - a so-called "straw purchase".

The charging document does not state whether Patten succeeded in setting up the meetings. Mark Warner of Virginia, confirmed that the committee had made a criminal referral to the Justice Department requesting an investigation into Patten. No date has been set for his sentencing. He faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

After the congressional testimony, Patten then destroyed documents relating to his foreign work.

Prosecutions of the offense have been rare, but in recent years, the Justice Department's national security division has taken a tougher stance on enforcement of the law.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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