Dutch lawyer admits to lying in Trump-Russia investigation

Robert Mueller
Robert Mueller. Photo: Federal Bureau of Investigation / Wikimedia Commons

Dutch lawyer Alex van der Zwaan admitted to lying to the team investigating possible Russian interference in the United States presidential elections in 2016, led by American special prosecutor Robert Mueller. Mueller charged Van de Zwaan with lying to the FBI in the investigation, and he pled guilty on Tuesday, the Washington Post reports. 

Van der Zwaan lied about his contacts with Rick Gates - a former employee that worked on Donald Trump's campaign. Gates and former campaign manager Paul Manafort are accused of, among other things, money laundering, fraud, and working for a foreign power - Ukraine. 

While being questioned by the Mueller team in November, Van der Zwaan lied about when he spoke with Rick Gates and an unnamed third person, referred to as Person A. in the indictment against the Dutch lawyer. He is also accused of lying about a phone call with Gates and Person A. in September 2016, and of hiding or destroying incriminating emails. 

The only details the American prosecutors gave about Person A.'s identity is that the person was a long time business associate of Manafort and spoke to Van der Zwaan in Russian, according to the Washington Post. 

Alex van der Zwaan worked in the London branch of American law firm Skadden Arps. The law firm helped the Ukrainian government draw up a report in 2012 which largely defended the persecution and condemnation of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko for corruption. The European Union and United States ruled that the charges against the former prime minister were mainly politically motivated.

At that time, Manafort and Gates worked as advisor to the president of the Ukraine. The phone call between Van der Zwaan, Gates and Person A. was about this report, according to the Washington Post.

Skadden Arps dismissed Van der Zwaan last year and stated that the law firm is cooperating with authorities in this investigation. No reason was given for his dismissal. 

The 33-year-old Dutch lawyer is married to Eva Khan, the daughter of Ukrainian-Russian billionaire German Khan. According to the Skadden Arps website, he speaks Dutch and Russian.

Making a false statement to investigators is considered a felony in the United States. For this Van der Zwaan could face up to six months in prison. He will be sentenced on April 3rd. 

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