Friday, January 18, 2019
The prominent law firm Skadden Arps reached a civil settlement with federal law enforcement today over work it performed in Ukraine on Paul Manafort's request, the Justice Department announced in a statement. The firm agreed to pay $4.6 million that it secretly received for the work that it performed on behalf of the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice, and agreed to retroactively register as a foreign agent of the Ukrainian government.
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP has entered into a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice, resolving its liability for violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), announced Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers.
According to the Agreement, Skadden acted as an agent of the Government of Ukraine within the meaning of FARA, 22 U.S.C. § 611 et seq., by contributing to a public relations campaign directed at select members of the U.S. news media in 2012. Moreover, in 2012 and 2013, Skadden received multiple inquiries from the Department's FARA Registration Unit about its role in that campaign. A partner then at Skadden made false and misleading statements to the FARA Unit, which led it to conclude in 2013 that the firm was not obligated to register under FARA. The facts, when uncovered, showed that Skadden was indeed required to register in 2012, and, under the Agreement, it will do so retroactively.
"Law firms should handle inquiries from the federal government the same way they would counsel their clients to: with appropriate due diligence to ensure the honesty of their response," said Assistant Attorney General Demers. "Skadden's failure to do so, and reliance on only the representations of the lead partner on the matter, hid from the public that its report was part of a Ukrainian foreign influence campaign. FARA protects the integrity of the American political system by enabling Americans to consider the identity of the speaker as they evaluate the substance of the speech." Assistant Attorney General Demers added, "The Department appreciates Skadden's more recent extensive cooperation in the investigation of this matter, which facilitated its resolution."
In addition to agreeing to register under FARA, Skadden has agreed to pay the U.S. Treasury more than $4.6 million, which it received in fees and expenses for its work with Ukraine, and will ensure that it has formal, robust procedures for responding to inquiries concerning its conduct from any federal government entity and ensuring FARA compliance as to its engagements on behalf of foreign clients.
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