Published: Sat, May 12, 2018
Life&Culture | By Sue Mclaughlin

Trump's attorney suspected of receiving $500k from Russian oligarch Vekselberg

Trump's attorney suspected of receiving $500k from Russian oligarch Vekselberg

Columbus Nova's main client is a company controlled by Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, the New York Times reported and the firm confirmed.

However, the statement released by Columbus Nova Wednesday called allegations of Vekselberg's involvement in the payments "patently untrue".

Now there's a new wrinkle: Another longtime Trump personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, also represented Columbus Nova in recent years in a commercial case.

Novartis said it was contacted in November 2017 by the office of U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller about its contract with Essential Consultants.

As ProPublica reported previous year, Cohen spent a short period in February 2017 working at the offices of Kasowitz Benson Torres in midtown Manhattan, alarming several lawyers at the firm who anxious about the brash attorney's reputation.

"Following this initial meeting, Novartis determined that Michael Cohen and Essential Consultants would be unable to provide the services that Novartis had anticipated related to U.S. health care policy matters and the decision was taken not to engage further". Both he and Kasowitz have declined to specify what they collaborated on.

"Neither Viktor Vekselberg nor anyone else outside of Columbus Nova was involved in the decision to hire Cohen or provided funding for his engagement", the firm said in its statement.

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A lawyer for Columbus Nova has said Vekselberg had nothing to do with the transaction Avenatti said amounted to $500,000.

Cohen didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Columbus Nova was founded in 2000 and is based in New York City. What business exactly did it do with the president and his lawyer?

Kasowitz continues to represent Trump in other matters. Zervos was a contestant on Trump's NBC TV reality show The Apprentice, and has alleged that Trump sexually assaulted her. Kasowitz Benson Torres specializes in commercial litigation and has represented many large USA and foreign companies. Now, new research reveals that another one of Trump's lawyers also worked for that same Russia-linked firm, Columbus Nova. Most of Columbus Nova MB's investments include real estate and financial services offerings. In the NY case, Kasowitz and three other attorneys at his firm filed a separate suit alleging that it was Fifth Third Bank that had committed fraud and caused losses.

The company also deleted a biography of Columbus Nova CEO Andrew Intrater, who is Vekselberg's cousin and was described as a "current Member of the Executive Board of Renova Group", in the now-deleted bio. The terms do not appear to be public. But in the company's original registration filed in 2000, it described itself as "the USA -based affiliate of the Renova Group". "The litigation was commenced in 2010 and settled in early 2017".

Columbus Nova's registration as an "investment adviser" with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission expired in 2012, according to research by Forbes Magazine.

According to a CNN source, investigators from Mueller's team were interested in the payments that Victor Vekselber's structures transferred to the accounts of US President Donald Trump's lawyer.

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