Mr. Van der Zwaan claimed that he had not had substantive talks with either Mr. Gates or Mr. Kilimnik in 2016. In fact, he now admitted that he had had a series of phone calls with both men about potential criminal charges related to payments from the Ukrainian government.
Skadden received a payment of more than $ 5 million for the 2012 report, according to court documents. The payments, reported in Ukrainian government documents for only $ 12,000, were channeled through a bank account in Cyprus controlled by Mr. Manafort and Mr. Gates, according to court records.
Prosecutors accused Mr. Manafort of using a complex network of entities and bank accounts to hide and wash their earnings from that work. Mr. Manafort has denied doing something wrong. In February, Gates pleaded guilty to financial fraud and lying to investigators and agreed to cooperate with the investigation.
During the interview with Mr. Mueller's team, Mr. van der Zwaan admitted that Mr. Gates had told him that Mr.. Kilimnik was a former Russian intelligence agent. But, according to prosecutors, he hid and lied about an email from Mr. Kilimnik. He also tricked investigators into a conversation in which Mr. Kilimnik warned him that the "official contract was only part of the iceberg" and that the truth about Ukrainian payments could come out and hurt both.
When asking for clemency, Mr van der Zwaan's lawyers argued that his client had lied in part to hide the fact that he had improperly recorded a phone call with one of his law firm's partners on the matter. He tried to correct his mistakes by voluntarily accepting another interview in early December, less than a month after the interview in which he had lied.
At that time, he delivered his notes, recordings, cell phone, iPad and laptops. He has been stranded in the United States since, away from his pregnant wife who lives in his apartment in London. He has been fired by his law firm and will probably never again practice law, his lawyers said.
But prosecutors alleged that Mr. van der Zwaan simply abandoned his legal ethics. "Van der Zwaan had, in the words of a witness," happened to be native ", that is, he had come too close to Manafort, to Gates" and Mr. Kilimnik, according to his sentencing memorandum.
Mr. van der Zwaan is far from an object of pity, they argued: his father-in-law, a well-known Russian oligarch, has given him and his wife considerable sums of money. "Van der Zwaan, in short, is a person who has been granted all the advantages of life, and from whom the government and the professional bar sincerely hoped candor and rectitude," prosecutors said.
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