Steel magnate Victor Pinchuk was “understood” to be the Ukrainian businessman who funded a 2012 report whitewashing the prosecution of ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, according to the filings made by international law firm Skadden, Arps, Meagher, & Flom, which wrote the report, to the United States Department of Justice.

Pinchuk called the information “absolutely incorrect” in a statement released by his press office on Jan. 21.

“Mr. Pinchuk was not the source of any funds used to pay fees of Skadden in producing their report into the trial and conviction of Yulia Tymoshenko. He was in no way responsible for those costs,” the statement read. “Neither Mr. Pinchuk nor companies affiliated with him have ever been a client of Skadden. Mr. Pinchuk and his team had no role in the work done by Skadden, including in the preparation or dissemination of the Skadden report.”


Skadden was hired by Ukraine’s Ministry of Justice through U.S. political consultant Paul Manafort, who at the time worked for Yanukovych, to write a report justifying the Ukrainian government’s politically motivated prosecution and trial of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s opponent, Tymoshenko, in 2011.

Not only did the law firm provide a biased legal assessment of the fairness of the case against Tymoshenko, it also failed to register as an agent as the U.S. law requires from everyone who works for a client abroad.

Skadden registered as an agent for the Ukrainian government retroactively on Jan. 18 after reaching a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, which accused the firm of violating lobbying rules, or the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

A scan of Skadden’s FARA files was shared on Twitter by the Financial Times reporter Kadhim Shubber on Jan. 20.

According to it, when Skadden was hired by the government of Yanukovych in 2012, it understood that the bill of over $5 million would be paid by Ukrainian oligarch Pinchuk.


Skadden’s failure to register as an agent surfaced during U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the Russian interference into the 2016 U.S. presidential election and U.S. President Trump’s links to Russia, which allegedly help him to get elected. The investigation examined the role of Manafort, who also served as Trump’s former campaign manager for a time.

Last April, former Skadden attorney, Alex van de Zwaan, pleaded guilty to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigations and was jailed for 30 days.

Read more: In Manafort’s world, everyone had a price


Skadden also agreed to pay the U.S. Treasury over $4.6 million that it received for its work in Ukraine in 2012, according to a settlement agreement with the federal law enforcement, the U.S. Department of Justice reported on Jan. 17.

To produce the report, Skadden received a total of $4,657,568, which it knew was paid by “a Ukrainian business person,” whose identity remained concealed until Skadden wrote in its FARA registration statement of Jan. 18 that “the firm understood that its work was to be largely funded by Victor Pinchuk.”

Skadden’s generous remuneration included an initial retainer of $150,000 paid through lobbying firm Douglas Shloen NYC.


Ukraine’s Ministry of Justice paid $1,075,381. Almost half of this sum was returned to Ukraine in 2017 as part of a different investigation into former Justice Minister Oleksandr Lavrynovych for rigging a state tender and embezzling some $1.1 million, which was used to pay Skadden.

Another $4 million was paid for ‘legal services on behalf of the Ministery of Justice” through Manafort’s Cyprus-registered firm, Black Sea View Ltd.

Skadden wrote in its FARA statement that it had been aware that the Ukrainian government “intended to use its report to influence U.S. policy and public opinion toward Ukraine.”

The release and distribution of the report among U.S. media and politicians were handled by FTI Consulting. Skadden also sent copies of the report to Vin Weber, a partner at Mercury Public Affairs, and major U.S. and UK publications such as The New York Times and The Daily Telegraph before its official release in December 2012.


Pinchuk is Ukraine’s second richest person with an estimated fortune of $2.7 billion, according to Novoye Vremya magazine’s 2018 rich list. His main businesses are Interpipe, a steel pipes and railway wheels manufacturer; StarLightsMedia group that combines three TV channels; Bank Credit Dnipro.


Read more about Pinchuk in Kyiv Post’s Oligarch Watch

The oligarch has been under Mueller’s scrutiny over a $150,000 donation to the Donald Trump Foundation in exchange for Trump’s 20-minute video appearance at his Yalta European Strategy (YES) conference in Kyiv in September 2015, New York Times reported in April

In Ukraine, the payment didn’t seem out of ordinary, as Pinchuk is seen as a pro-Western and liberal businessman, known for splurging on his image-boosting projects – be it study abroad scholarships for Ukrainian students, a modern art center in Kyiv, Ukraine House in Davos, Jewish causes, or his annual YES (Yalta European Strategy) forum.

He has been unable, however, to cleanse his reputation of the stains left by his father-in-law’s (former President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma) alleged links to the murder of journalist Georgiy Gongadze in 2000.

In 2001, the oligarch paid for the services of Kroll Associates, a U.S. corporate investigations firm, to check the authenticity of audio recordings that were alleged to show Kuchma’s complicity in the Gongadze’s murder. Kroll’s verdict was negative, and the crime has never been solved.

There have also been times when relations between Tymoshenko and Pinchuk were at a low. In 2005, then-Prime Minister Tymoshenko deemed unfair the privatization by Pinchuk and another Ukrainian oligarch Rinat Akhmetov of the country’s largest steel company, Kryvorizhstal. The deal was dismissed by a court, and Kryvorizhstal was resold to Mittal Steel.


However, the Pinchuk-Tymoshenko feud seems to be in the past. Tymoshenko, a frontrunner for Ukrainian presidency in March 31 election, spoke at Pinchuk’s YES conference in September 2018. And in October, journalists of Schemes, RFE/RL’s investigative program, discovered that the two had secretly held talks in Kyiv.

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