A recently sanctioned Russian oligarch used his company to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to President Donald Trump's longtime personal attorney, deposited into an account used to pay off a pornographic film actress, U.S. media reported Tuesday.
Reuters could not immediately verify the claim and it was not clear how Avenatti would have knowledge of any payment from Vekselberg to Cohen. Novartis did not respond to requests for comment. Another $200,000 came from AT&T, which has confirmed the payments to reporters covering the story, saying it paid for "insights into understanding the new administration".
Ohlin said, however, that it was not clear that Trump's retainer agreement with Cohen created a financial obligation that should have been disclosed.
Among those payments were $200,000 from AT&T, whose proposed merger with Time Warner is now before the courts after the Justice Department sued to block the sale.
Mr Avenatti named three companies, besides Columbus Nova, that he said transferred money into the account at First Republic. "After the inauguration, the firm hired Michael Cohen as a business consultant regarding potential sources of capital and potential investments in real estate and other ventures".
"Also included in these suspicious financial transactions are four payments in late 2017 and early 2018 totaling $399,920 made by global pharmaceutical giant Novartis directly to Essential in four separate transactions of $99,980 each (just below $100,000)".
The stakes are sky-high for Cohen, who is now under a federal criminal investigation by the United States attorney's office in Manhattan and had his home, hotel room and office raided last month. There also was a $150,000 payment in November 2017 from Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd., a manufacturer of aircraft, including jets, helicopters and unmanned vehicles, according to the summary.
Trump denies he and Daniels had an affair and has said he didn't know about the settlement. Trump regularly criticized Time Warner's CNN unit on the campaign trail and threatened to derail any merger.
Vekselberg and Intrater could not be immediately reached for comment.
Mr Cohen has noted in court that Mr Trump was one of three legal clients he had a year ago, but that he had 10 other clients for whom he did unspecified business work. "They did no legal or lobbying work for us, and the contract ended in December 2017", the company said in a statement. Notably, the Trump administration slapped him with sanctions last month along with other oligarchs accused of "malign activities", including meddling in the 2016 election.
Bloomberg ranks Vekselberg as the 75th richest man in the world, with $15.5 billion in assets.