Russian oligarch questioned about payments to Trump's lawyer

10 May, 2018, 00:24 | Author: Clarence Schmidt
  • Stormy Daniels

Cohen's consulting outfit was the same shell company through which he made payments to Daniels.

Richard Owens, a Latham & Watkins lawyer who represents Columbus Nova, said Vekselberg did not provide any funding for and was not involved in the hiring of Cohen.

Michael Avenatti, the lawyer representing the adult-film star Stormy Daniels, alleged that a Novartis unit had paid Essential almost $400,000 in late 2017 and early 2018.

Michael Avenatti, Daniels' lawyer, released the report Tuesday, detailing $4.43 million in transactions paid to Cohen, many of which Avenatti identifies as suspicious.

The documents claimed Cohen received the money "within approximately 75 days" of the payment he made to the adult actress.

Avenatti's document said that AT&T paid Essential Consultants $50,000 in October, November and December of 2017, and another $50,000 in January of 2018 for a total of $200,000.

A subsidiary of Novartis - the global drug maker behind Ritalin, Lamisil and other household name medicines - paid former Trump attorney Michael Cohen $100,000 a month for a year beginning after Trump's inauguration.

Meanwhile, Columbus Nova told The Guardian it hired Cohen "as a business consultant regarding potential sources of capital and potential investments in real estate".

A Swiss pharmaceutical giant that paid President Trump's personal attorney hundreds of thousands of dollars was questioned by special counsel Robert Mueller late a year ago, the company acknowledged Wednesday. According to the reports, investment firm Columbus Nova - which describes itself as a "the USA investment vehicle for the Renova Group" - deposited the amount in the account of the same shell company that Cohen established to give the hush money to Trump's alleged mistress.

The Trump administration took up major industry issues that involve AT&T, including the company's proposed $85bn purchase of Time Warner Inc. and the repealing of net neutrality regulations.


CNN reported on Tuesday that Mueller questioned Vekselberg about the payments to Cohen.

FBN's Kennedy on how Trump supporters don't care about the Stormy Daniels controversy. Avenatti called on Cohen Wednesday to release his bank statements.

Cohen's lawyers have fought in court to restrict prosectors' access to the material seized in those raids.

This payment was one among many that passed through Cohen.

How precisely Avenatti says he knows this isn't yet clear - the supporting materials for his "executive summary" aren't public and may not themselves be public documents, raising questions about whether someone in the Treasury Department or elsewhere in officialdom may have given them to him.

USA Today, reporting on the initial statement Novartis made Tuesday, said Novartis "paid Trump attorney Michael Cohen almost $400,000 from late 2017 to early 2018". Each has important business considerations with the US government.

The communications giant admitted the payments but disputed Avenatti's timeline.

A Novartis spokesman said any agreements with Essential Consultants took place before the new CEO took over in February and have since expired. Others included about $500,000 from a company linked to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, almost $400,000 from pharmaceutical giant Novartis and $150,000 from Korea Aerospace Industries. That company is partnered with Lockheed Martin in seeking a multi-billion dollar contract for advanced fighter jet training for the military, a contract that is going to be awarded sometime this year. Like all Russian oligarchs, Vekselberg has close ties to Russian president Vladimir Putin. Vekselberg funds several critically important prestige projects, including Skolkovo, the business incubator touted as Russia's answer to Silicon Valley.

Vekselberg was one of two oligarchs stopped by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents working for the special counsel when his private plane landed in a New York-area airport earlier this year, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

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