Manafort associate charged over Ukraine lobbying

A former associate of Paul Manafort, Sam Patten, was charged Friday with failing to register in the a foreign agent for his work lobbying on behalf of a Ukrainian political party. The client wasn't eligible to buy the tickets themselves because the inauguration committee couldn't accept foreign money under Federal Election Commission rules.

The criminal information filing noted that Patten specifically worked on meetings with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, as well as officials from the State Department and the media.

Patten's attorney Stuart Sears declined comment after the Friday court appearance.

Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, referred Patten's case to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.

"I was wrong not to have filed under FARA for the representational aspects of my work on behalf of the Opposition Bloc in Ukraine", Patten wrote in a post seen by Reuters, adding that he had sought to promote democracy during a political consulting career that included work in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Prosecutors allege that Patten knew that he was required to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act but failed to do so.

Later, Patten wrote talking points and letters used to lobby US officials on the behalf of the businessman, who is referred to as "Foreigner B". The company performed political consulting services and advised a prominent Ukrainian oligarch, labeled "Foreigner B", among others. Their names made headlines previous year when it emerged that Manafort may have been trying to use his elevated role on the Trump campaign to resolve a longstanding financial dispute with Oleg Deripaska, a Russian-Ukrainian oligarch and aluminum magnate.

Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, was convicted August 21 of eight counts of tax and bank fraud in a separate trial in Virginia.

The Russian national, who formed a consulting company with Patten, is identified only as "Foreigner A" in court papers.

He added no new details when describing Patten's criminal offense, though he added the words a few times that Patten "was working as a foreign agent of the opposition bloc".

A court filing said he earned more than $1 million between 2015 and 2017 representing the interests of the Opposition Bloc, which Manafort also previously consulted for. Kilimnik also is a co-defendant in a pending case against Manafort in Washington, brought by Mueller's team, that accuses them both of witness tampering. Mueller alleged that Kilimnik has ties to Russian intelligence agencies.

Patten told Judge Amy Berman Jackson that he suffers from mental illness and is under the care of a psychiatrist and is taking medication. He also helped a foreign individual draft op-ed columns intended for the US news media, authorities say.

He also worked in Georgia, where he said he advised the Free Democrats, a political party headed by former Defense Minister Irakli Alasania.

Patten, who served in the State Department under George W. Bush, headed the Moscow office of the International Republican Institute in the early 2000s.