Lobbyist admits steering foreign funds to inaugural

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A business associate of a key figure in the investigation into former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort pleaded guilty Friday to failing to register as a foreign agent.

Patten pleaded to the count before Judge Amy Berman Jackson in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Paul Manafort's former associate was also head of International Republican Institute's Moscow office from 2001 to 2004, worked with the late opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, served as Eurasian program director at a Russia-focused advocacy group, and worked as a legislative adviser and speechwriter for two USA senators.

Foreigner A is believed to be Konstantin Kilimnik, Manafort's co-defendant in a trial that kicks off next month in D.C. on similar charges to the one Patten faces. He also has been charged, along with Kilimnik, with obstruction of justice through alleged witness tampering.

The charge stems from his work lobbying on behalf of a political party in Ukraine known as the Opposition Bloc, and the Ukrainian oligarch between 2014 and 2018.

As part of his lobbying work, Patten violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act by not disclosing the work to the USA, prosecutors said.

Patten's company received more than $1 million for its consulting work with the party.

In a plea agreement made public Friday, prosecutors outlined other crimes that the lobbyist, Sam Patten, admitted to but wouldn't be charged with.

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Patten entered his plea in federal court in Washington, shortly after prosecutors released a four-page charging document that accused him of performing lobbying and consulting work in the United States and Ukraine but failing to register as a foreign agent as required by the Justice Department.

Watching from the gallery was Andrew Weissmann, an expert on money laundering and complex fraud cases who will be the lead prosecutor in Manafort's trial in Washington.

No sentencing date has been set. Legal experts told Business Insider that the decision to charge Patten with a criminal information indicates that he will likely cooperate with prosecutors. The charge carries a maximum prison sentence of five years in prison. The oligarch had paid the sum to Patten's firm through a Cypriot account.

Patten admitted to arranging for a USA citizen to act as a straw purchaser to pay $50,000 for four tickets to the inauguration of President Donald Trump on behalf of a Ukrainian oligarch, who reimbursed Patten through a Cypriot account.

Patten said past year that Kilimnik had been essential to Manafort's Ukraine operation, which had been perceived by allies and opponents alike as the savviest of the American consulting operations working in the country.

Earlier this year, Patten told U.S. media he and Kilimnik were friends and partners for years, dating back to the early 2000s when both worked for the International Republican Institute in Moscow.

Manafort's relationship with Kilimnik stretches back years.

Patten violated FARA by contacting members of Congress, the executive branch, and the media without disclosing that work to the Justice Department, according to the documents. But this was not a case brought by special counsel Robert Mueller.

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