US charges associate of indicted Russian with lobbying violation

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"Justice Department prosecutors alleged that Patten, through an entity referred to as "Company A", partnered "50-50" with a Russian national for lobbying work conducted on USA soil, which included "[advising] the pro-Russian Ukrainian party Opposition Bloc" and a "prominent Ukraine oligarch".

Patten appeared in court Friday morning before Judge Amy Berman Jackson, the same judge who is handling Manafort's trial which is scheduled to begin next month.

"I would like to plead guilty", Patten told Jackson during a hearing.

For decades, prosecutors have rarely brought charges for violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Samuel Patten, 47, pleaded guilty in a federal court in Washington to violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) by lobbying for the Ukrainian Opposition Bloc between 2014 and 2018 without disclosing the work to the USA government.

Manafort made most of his money working for former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych before he fled to Russian Federation in 2014, but like Patten also sought to drum up business with the Opposition Bloc in the aftermath of Yanukovych's exit.

Patten and Kilimnik set up political advisory firm Begemot Ventures Ltd LLC in February 2015, according to its Washington corporate registration, which is still active. Prosecutors say that Patten arranged the purchase of four tickets for the unnamed Ukrainian oligarch to Trump's inauguration. They said "foreign B" then attended the Inauguration with Patten. They also detail more recent activity including his interactions with the Senate intelligence committee and the presidential inauguration committee.

Patten has a varied résumé.

Patten served in the State Department during the George W. Bush administration. He also briefly worked at the State Department under Bush and worked as a political consultant in Iraq assisting officials there in the post-Saddam Hussein period. The charge is a felony that is punishable by a statutory maximum of up to five years in prison, and potential financial penalties.

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Patten was released on his own recognizance but can not travel outside the D.C. area without notifying the court.

Patten said that his relationship with Kilimnik-a former officer in Russia's Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) who worked closely with Trump's campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his deputy, Rick Gates, for over a decade-has "been thoroughly explored by relevant government entities".

While investigating Kilimnik earlier in 2018, The Atlantic's Natasha Bertrand encountered Patten, who on Friday was indicted for failing to register as a foreign agent.

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

As part of his lobbying work, Patten violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act by not disclosing the work to the US, prosecutors said. He has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors, who can request a reduced sentenced for Patten.

Patten's work in Ukraine dovetailed somewhat with that of Manafort.

Patten's attorneys and government prosecutor's will have until October 31 to file a joint status report. However, a member of Mueller's team, Andrew Weissmann, was present in the courtroom Friday.

Patten's long friendship with Kilimnik-which stems from their time working together at the International Republican Institute in Moscow between 2001 and 2003-would likely be enough to draw scrutiny from Mueller, who appears to have homed in on Kilimnik as a potentially significant link between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation. Patten ran the office from 2001 to 2004.

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