Russia probe: Son-in-law of Russian oligarch pleads guilty of lying to the FBI

A Russian oligarch's son-in-law, Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer, who was named in the controversial Donald Trump dossier pleaded guilty of lying to the Federal Investigation Bureau (FBI) agents on Tuesday.

He was reportedly caught misleading special counsel Robert Mueller's team probing Russian interference in 2016 presidential elections.

Mueller's team is also investigating possible collusion between Russians and the Trump campaign. It is not yet clear to what extent will van der Zwaan, son-in-law of Russian billionaire German Khan, assist Mueller investigation. However, a plea agreement between him and the FBI was signed last week which does not mention cooperation as a condition, according to reports. 

Attorney Alex van der Zwaan (L) leaves U.S District Court after pleading guilty during a scheduled appearance February 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images)

The lawyer is the fourth person to plead guilty in the FBI Russia investigation. Van der Zwaan reportedly admitted in federal court to the count of making misleading statements about his communications with former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates 

Gates and former Trump campaign chief, Paul Manafort, were indicted by the FBI in October last year on charges of conspiracy, money laundering and other offenses associated with lobbying on behalf of political figures from Ukraine, according to NBC News.

Former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort (Getty Images)

Van der Zwaan worked in London office of law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom before he was fired last year. He reportedly assisted in writing a report on the Ukrainian government's behalf, which critics say attempts to justify Ukraine's former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko's false imprisonment.

Two of Trump's former campaign members — Gates and Manafort — reportedly were also working on behalf of Tymoshenko's rivals, which included the ousted president Viktor Yanukovych.

Manafort had reportedly arranged for the Skadden law firm to do the work, according to a New York Times report in September last year.

Attorney Alex van der Zwaan (L) leaves U.S District Court after pleading guilty during a scheduled appearance February 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Getty Images)

US prosecutor Andrew Weissmann said that van der Zwaan leaked the report and some of the talking points from the law firm to Gates. According to the court documents, the lawyer was questioned by the FBI last year in November where he claimed that his last communication with Gates was an "innocuous" text message in mid-August of 2016. 

Van der Zwaan also reportedly said that his last contact with someone called "Person A" was in 2014. "Person A" is reportedly Gates and Manafort's Ukrainian-based associate. 

The lawyer, however, has now admitted that he was in contact with both Gates and Person A in September 2016 and that they discussed the Tymoshenko report, according to reports.

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Namrata Tripathi


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