Criminal Justice

Former Skadden associate argues repercussions are sentence enough for lying in special counsel probe

  • Print

Lawyers for a former London associate at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom say “his world has collapsed” as a result of lying to investigators in the special counsel investigation, and he should be spared jail time after his guilty plea.

The former associate, 33-year-old Alex van der Zwaan, had been warned he could be prosecuted for making false statements, yet he returned to the United States less than two weeks later to correct the record, according to the sentencing memo filed on his behalf. His cooperation and remorse justify a sentence that does not include incarceration, according to van der Zwaan’s lawyers at Cooley. The National Law Journal has a story.

Van der Zwaan has remained in the United States for more than four months awaiting resolution of the matter, the brief says. “Although has not been incarcerated, Alex has in many ways been serving a sentence while stuck in limbo since mid-November,” the brief says. “He has been alone, separated from his wife; he has lost his job and his career; and he has to live with the knowledge that his suffering and that of his family is due to his own actions.”

Van der Zwaan pleaded guilty on Feb. 20 to lying in connection with his Ukraine work as a lawyer for Skadden. Prosecutors said Van der Zwaan lied about his communications with “Person A” and with former Trump campaign aide Rick Gates, who pleaded guilty on Feb. 23 to failing to disclose the Ukrainian consulting work and offshore holdings.

Skadden was hired in 2012 by the Ukraine Ministry of Justice to prepare a report on the trial of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, a political rival to Yanukovych. The Skadden report concluded Tymoshenko was denied counsel at critical stages of her trial but her conviction was supported by evidence.

The sentencing memo says Person A told Van der Zwaan in September 2016 that the new Ukrainian government might file charges against Van der Zwaan as well as Skadden. Alex had recorded the calls with Person A, and he recorded his call with a Skadden partner when he spoke with him about the prosecution threat.

The brief notes that Van der Zwaan was represented by Skadden lawyers when he spoke to investigators, and he feared truthful answers could reveal existence of the recordings, including the recording of the Skadden partner. “In his mind,” the brief says, “his boss was listening to every word.”

Corrects style on Van der Zwaan throughout on March 30.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.