US counsel investigates Ukrainian oligarch's donation to Trump fund

Ukrainian billionaire, Victor Pinchuk gave $150,000 to the Donald J. Trump Foundation in exchange for Donald Trump’s 20 minutes appearance through a video link to a conference in Kyiv
08:08, 10 April 2018

Buro 24/7

US special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russia's interference in the US presidential election in 2016, began investigating the donation of Ukrainian billionaire Viktor Pinchuk to the Donald Trump’s foundation. This was reported by The New York Times.

Investigators subpoenaed the Trump Organization this year for an array of records about business with foreign nationals. In response, the company handed over documents about a $150,000 donation that the Ukrainian billionaire, Victor Pinchuk, made in September 2015 to the Donald J. Trump Foundation in exchange for a 20-minute appearance by Trump that month through a video link to a conference in Kiev.

Michael D. Cohen, the president’s personal lawyer whose office and hotel room were raided on Monday in an apparently unrelated case, solicited the donation. The contribution from Pinchuk, who has sought closer ties for Ukraine to the West, was the largest the foundation received in 2015 from anyone besides Trump himself.

The payment from Pinchuk “is curious because it comes during a campaign and is from a foreigner and looks like an effort to buy influence,” said Marcus S. Owens, a former head of the Internal Revenue Service division that oversees tax-exempt organizations. He called the donation “an unusual amount of money for such a short speech.”

Related: Paul Manafort sues Special Counsel Robert Mueller

Mueller also ordered the Trump Organization to turn over documents, emails and other communications about several Russians, including some whose names have not been publicly tied to Trump, according to the three people, who would not be named discussing the ongoing investigation. The identities of the Russians were unclear.

As it was reported earlier, a team of the special counsel Robert Mueller's which is investigating Russia’s interference with elections in the United States has questioned Russian oligarchs who traveled to the US.

Mueller's team has also made an informal voluntary document and interview request to a third Russian oligarch who has not traveled to the US recently.

The investigators are asking whether wealthy Russians illegally funneled cash donations directly or indirectly into Donald Trump's presidential campaign and inauguration.

Related: Trump’s lawyer accuses Mueller’s office of “unlawful conduct” in obtaining documents on Russia probe

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