US & Canada

Trump-Russia inquiry: Lawyer Alex van der Zwaan pleads guilty

Alex Van Der Zwaan walks into the Washington field office of the FBI Image copyright EPA
Image caption Alex van der Zwaan arrives at the FBI's offices in Washington before Tuesday's court hearing

A lawyer has admitted making false statements to investigators examining links between Donald Trump's election campaign team and Russia.

Court documents accuse Alex van der Zwaan, 33, of making false statements when questioned about his work for Ukraine's Ministry of Justice.

He is the 19th person to be charged by special counsel Robert Mueller.

On Friday, 13 Russians were charged with tampering in the 2016 US election.

What is the accusation?

The charge against van der Zwaan make no reference to Mr Trump's 2016 election campaign.

Van der Zwaan appeared in court in Washington DC on Tuesday and the judge set sentencing for 3 April.

Court papers levelled the following accusations against him:

Mr Gates and his former colleague Paul Manafort, who went on to become Mr Trump's campaign chief, have also been charged by the special counsel with acting as "unregistered agents" of Ukrainian politician Viktor Yanukovych and his party.

Mr Yanukovych was a bitter rival of of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and defeated her to become president in 2010. He was later ousted.

Court documents say van der Zwaan worked for a firm tasked in 2012 with preparing a report for Ukraine's Ministry of Justice on the trial of Ms Tymoshenko.

Ms Tymoshenko was jailed the year before for criminally exceeding her powers, charges she said were politically motivated.

The legal firm's report concluded her trial was justified and that due process was followed.

Who is Alex van der Zwaan?

The Dutch citizen works for the New York law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom based in London.

Last year, he married the art critic Eva Khan, whose father German Khan co-founded the Alfa Group, one of Russia's largest investment groups.

An article on their wedding in the Russian edition of Tatler magazine last year said that Van der Zwaan had Russian roots and worked with Russian oligarchs.

What else is happening?

On Friday, it was announced that 13 Russians had been charged by Mr Mueller. They are alleged to have posed as Americans, and opened financial accounts in their name, as well as organising and promoting political rallies within the United States.

Russia's foreign minister dismissed the charges as "blather" and President Trump said it was proof that there was no collusion between his camp and Russia.

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