Cohen's business partner to cooperate with prosecutors

Cohen's business partner to cooperate with prosecutors

Michael Cohen, US President Donald Trump's personal lawyer, was secretly paid anywhere from $400,000 to $600,000 to arrange a sit-down meeting between Trump and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, according to a report released by the BBC on Wednesday.

As part of the NY probe, prosecutors are investigating Cohen for possible campaign finance violations and bank fraud. Evgeny A. Freidman, a key business associate of Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to a minor tax evasion charge, and agreed to cooperate fully with the government's investigation.

Freidman's cooperation agreement could be a significant development for Cohen, whose personal business practices are under investigation by the US attorney for the Southern District of NY.

Freidman, known as New York's "Taxi King", was indicted on state charges a year ago by then-New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who alleged Freidman and others failed to pay $5 million in MTA surcharges between 2012 and 2015.

"The Trump regime responded through its skeletal mouthpiece, Rudy Giuliani: "[Trump's] just not involved in the taxis".

Freidman's lawyer, Patrick Egan, declined to comment on whether Freidman is cooperating with state or federal authorities but said he was "satisfied" with the plea deal.

Cohen is being investigated for alleged money laundering and campaign finance violations tied to hush money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about an affair she claims to have had with Trump in 2006.

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CNN previously reported the Federal Bureau of Investigation searches included a request for documents related to Cohen's ownership of taxi medallions and sought information about taxi owners who had financial dealings with Cohen.

Freidman struggled financially as the value of taxi medallions plummeted.

At that time, Lynch ordered Freidman held on $500,000 bail on a five-count indictment accusing him and Dumitru of first-degree criminal tax fraud and first-degree grand larceny, which carried the possibility of 81/3 to 25 years in prison. "That's it", Freidman said in the statement, sent to and read on the show by New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman.

In addition to Cohen, two Ukrainians who the BBC's sources said opened a back channel with him on behalf of Poroshenko denied the story.

According to a high-ranking Ukrainian intelligence official, Cohen was drafted in because the country's registered lobbyists could only get Poroshenko a brief photo opportunity with the U.S. president.

That legal pressure on Cohen appeared to increase on Tuesday, after Freidman cut his plea deal with investigators.

Freidman has for years managed a number of taxi medallions for Cohen in New York City and Chicago, and the pair have been friends since the 1990s.

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