Mueller Asks Court to Push Back Arraignment of Russian Business

WASHINGTON (CN) – Citing its troubles serving the company with a summons, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office on Friday asked a federal judge in Washington to push back the arraignment of a Russian business accused of funding the Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Concord Management and Consulting was one of the entities controlled by Russian businessman  Yevgeniy Prigozhin accused in an indictment in February of helping to fund the troll farms and fake accounts that flooded social media during the 2016 campaign.

After a grand jury handed down the indictment in February, a federal judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued summonses for the accused, which the government delivered to Russian Office of the Prosecutor General.

The defendants were originally to go before the court for their initial appearance and arraignment on March 20, but the Russian government took “no further steps” to serve them after the United States delivered the summonses, according to a five-page filing Mueller’s office submitted on Friday.

Then, on April 11, two attorneys with the Washington firm Reed Smith – Eric Dubelier and Katherine Seikaly – entered appearances on behalf of Concord.  They did not immediately declare whether they could accept service for the company, but asked Mueller’s office for a host of information, including potential witnesses and discovery, according to the filing.

Dubelier and Seikaly also requested “information about more than 70 years of American foreign policy,” including each time the United States has attempted to interfere in foreign elections, according to Friday’s filing.

Mueller’s office sent Concord’s summons to the attorneys on April 20 along with a request to clarify whether they could accept a summons on behalf of their client. The attorneys did not answer the question and instead sent the summons back to Mueller’s office, claiming it did not comply with the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.

Mueller’s office asserts in the filing that by sending the summons to the attorneys, it did all that was required of it to properly serve the company.

Nevertheless, the office has asked U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich to push back the company’s initial appearance and arraignment and instead accept briefs regarding whether Concord has been served.

“Acceptance of service is ordinarily an indispensable precondition providing assurance that a defendant will submit to the jurisdiction of the court, obey its orders and comply with any judgment. Here, proper service is disputed. It would not be an efficient use of resources to conduct proceedings against Concord clouded by the question whether Concord has been properly served.”

Dubelier did not immediately responded to a request for comment on the filing and Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the Special Counsel’s Office, declined to comment.

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