Ukrainian-linked lawyer pleads guilty to lying to feds in ongoing Russia elections meddling probe

It's the latest set of charges in the probe of Russian election meddling.

ByABC News
February 21, 2018, 11:33 AM

— -- Attorney Alex Van Der Zwaan pleaded guilty on Tuesday to making false statements to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team in the ongoing probe of Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

It is being seen as the latest sign of pressure being applied on former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his longtime colleague, Rick Gates by the special counsel.

Van Der Zwaan, a 33-year old Dutch citizen and London-based lawyer, allegedly made the false statements to officials with the special counsel and FBI agents in an interview on Nov. 3, 2017.

The felony charge is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson indicated that a finding of guilt could result in Van Der Zwaan’s deportation.

The judge indicated both sides have agreed to recommend a reduced prison sentence of up to six months and a reduced fine of between $500 and $9,500, saying Van Der Zwaan has no criminal history.

The special counsel’s office said in their court filing that Van Der Zwaan, who worked for a law firm that did work in Ukraine in 2012, made false statements about communications in 2016 with Gates and an unnamed person.

While Gates was never a client of Van Der Zwann’s according to a source with knowledge of the relationship, the two were connected because of Gates’ past work representing the Ukraine government on behalf of his former boss, Manafort.

The communication, prosecutors allege, took place when Gates was still a member of the Trump campaign team.

Manafort left the campaign in mid-August, Gates stayed on through the election.

Gates is currently facing criminal charges from the special counsel over his lobbying work in Ukraine.

Van der Zwaan's father-in-law is German Khan, a Ukrainian-Russian who is one of the three owners of Russia's Alfa Bank and who is mentioned in an infamous dossier written by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. Steele was employed by opposition research firm Fusion GPS which received funding for its efforts, in part, from the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

Khan is also mentioned in court filings and congressional records request of Paul Manafort for their past work together.

In a statement to ABC News, Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom, which employed Van Der Zwaan as an associate in its London office, said they terminated his employment last year and have been "cooperating with authorities in connection with this matter."

ABC News' Pierre Thomas and Geneva Sands contributed to this report.

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