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Former Skadden partner may face charges related to Manafort-linked Ukraine report

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Greg Craig

Greg Craig in 2009. Photo by Pete Souza, via Wikimedia Commons.

Attorneys for former Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom partner Greg Craig say he did not circulate a report put together by the law firm and involving former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort.

Law360, Bloomberg and CNN have reports.

The report was written by Skadden attorneys about the 2011 trial of Yulia Tymoshenko, a former prime minister of Ukraine who was found guilty of abusing her office. Working as a lobbyist, Manafort solicited the report on behalf of Viktor Yanukovych, Ukraine’s pro-Russian president and a rival to Tymoshenko. The plan was to use the report to defend her trial.

Manafort commissioned Skadden to prepare the report in 2012, according to the Washington Post. The report concluded Tymoshenko was denied counsel at critical stages of her trial but her conviction was supported by evidence.

Bloomberg notes that according to court filings, Manafort allegedly arranged to have Skadden hand out copies of the report to various government officials and the media. Craig, who is no longer with Skadden, headed up the effort, says.

The Post reports that Skadden was paid $4.6 million, a fact Manafort did not reveal, while Ukrainian officials said they paid $12,000 for the report.

Last Friday, Manafort pleaded guilty to reduced charges of conspiracy in a deal that requires cooperation in special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York is also looking into whether Craig, who was White House counsel early in the Obama administration, failed to register as a foreign agent as required by the Foreign Agents Registration Act, CNN reported.

“Mr. Craig never disseminated Skadden’s report on the Tymoshenko trial to U.S. government officials, and he did not discuss Skadden’s findings with officials in the Executive Branch or the Congress or their staffs. Moreover, Mr. Craig’s few media contacts about the report were not part of an effort to promote the report on behalf of a foreign government. As a result, he was not required to register under FARA,” Craig’s attorneys and Zuckerman Spaeder partners William Murphy and William Taylor wrote in a statement, according to Law360.

Federal prosecutors are also considering a civil settlement or deferred prosecution agreement with Skadden, CNN notes. Meanwhile, says it’s unusual for a large law firm to be directly named in a government action.

The U.S. Department of Justice in September 2017 asked Skadden for information and documents related to work done on Yanukovych’s behalf, the New York Times reported.

Alex van der Zwaan, a former Skadden associate, pleaded guilty in February to lying to special counsel investigators in connection with his Ukraine work while with the firm.

Skadden did not immediately respond to an ABA Journal interview request.

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