The London-based son-in-law of a Russian businessman is set to plead guilty Tuesday afternoon in Washington to making false statements in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, according to a new court filing.
Alex Van der Zwaan was charged with one count of making false statements, a felony, about his work as an attorney employed by a law firm engaged in 2012 by the Ukraine Ministry of Justice to prepare a report on the trial of former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Tymoshenko was imprisoned by former president Viktor Yanukovych for signing in 2009 a controversial gas supply deal with Russia. Van der Zwaan is the son-in-law of Russian oligarch German Khan.
U.S. prosecutors in Mueller’s office said the case was related to former Trump 2016 presidential campaign manager Paul Manafort, who was an adviser to Yanukovych.
Manafort and his longtime employee, Rick Gates, have pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, fraud and money laundering charges arising from the allegedly secret lobbying work for a Russian-friendly political party in Ukraine.
Van der Zwaan is expected to appear at an arraignment and plea hearing at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday before U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson of Washington.
In a two-page information document, prosecutors alleged that Van der Zwaan falsely told the FBI and Mueller’s office that his last communication with Gates was in mid-August 2016 in an innocuous text message and his last communication with another, unnamed person was in 2014 when Van der Zwaan discussed that person’s family.
Van der Zwaan also allegedly falsely said he did not know why a September 2016 email between him and the other person, identified in court documents only as “person A” was not produced to prosecutors.
In fact, prosecutors alleged, Van der Zwaan spoke with both Gates and Person A regarding the report on Tymoshenko and recorded the calls. Van der Zwaan also allegedly “deleted and otherwise did not produce emails” sought by prosecutors and an unnamed law firm.
A criminal information is a type of charging document that can be filed only with a defendant’s permission and usually indicates the person is cooperating with investigators. A judge does not have to accept a plea deal, and a defendant can change his mind before making a plea.
U.S. authorities in 2016 asked the Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom law firm for information and documents related to its work on behalf of Yanukovych’s government, including Manafort’s work arranging the report that was used by the former president’s allies to justify his rival Tymoshenko’s arrest.
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