MANHATTAN (CN) – Accusing President Donald Trump’s embattled attorney Michael Cohen of “likely” committing bank fraud, an attorney for adult film star Stormy Daniels released a 7-page report late Tuesday detailing $4.4 million in “suspicious” transactions.
That total includes roughly $500,000 in payments from Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, attorney Michael Avenatti claims in the report.
Avenatti, who hinted at Tuesday’s bombshells earlier, released the allegations as an executive summary of an investigation of Cohen’s accounts at First Republic and other banks.
“From October 2016 through January 2018, Mr. Cohen used his First Republic account to engage in suspicious financial transactions totaling $4,425,033.46,” the report states.
“Chief among these suspicious financial transactions are approximately $500,000 in payments received from Mr. Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian oligarch with an estimated net worth of nearly $13 billion,” it continues. “Mr. Vekselberg and his cousin Mr. Andrew Intrater routed eight payments to Mr. Cohen through a company named Columbus Nova LLC (‘Columbus’) beginning in January 2017 and continuing until at least August 2017.”
Columbus Nova’s attorney insisted meanwhile that it engaged Cohen for real estate consulting work, without any involvement by Vekselberg.
“Reports today that Viktor Vekselberg used Columbus Nova as a conduit for payments to Michael Cohen are false,” Richard Owens of Latham & Watkins said in a statement. “The claim that Viktor Vekselberg was involved or provided any funding for Columbus Nova’s engagement of Michael Cohen is patently untrue. Neither Viktor Vekselberg nor anyone else other than Columbus Nova’s owners, were involved in the decision to hire Cohen or provided funding for his engagement.”
Avenatti’s report describes Columbus as an investment vehicle for the Vekselberg-controlled Renova Group, noting that Vekselberg’s cousin, Intrater, is the CEO of Columbus.
The New York Times recently reported that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators questioned Vekselberg, a Ukrainian-born Russian billionaire, and searched his electronic devices.
Ranked the fourth richest man in Russia by Forbes, Vekselberg grabbed less embarrassing headlines before the election-meddling scandal for his purchase of nine Faberge Imperial Easter eggs in 2004.
“Mr. Cohen inexplicably accepted these payments while he was the personal attorney to the president and holding himself out at times as employed by the Trump Organization (with few other clients),” the document continues. “This was occurring at the same time significant questions were being raised relating to (a) the involvement of Russia and Vladimir Putin in the 2016 presidential election and (b) the extent of the relationship between Mr. Putin and Mr. Trump.”
Avenatti says the mysterious payments hold the key to the $130,000 in hush money paid from Cohen’s limited liability company Essential Consultants to his client Daniels, who says Trump paid her off just before the presidential election to silence their affair years earlier.
Trump denies the allegations.
According to Avenatti, the Essential Consultants account with First Republic would have had to comply with the bank’s anti-money laundering protocol, which forced Cohen to confirm that it was a real estate consulting company with U.S.-based, wealthy clients.
Asserting that such claims were false, Avenatti said: “This likely constitutes bank fraud.”
In late 2017 and early 2018, Avenatti says, the global pharmaceutical giant Novartis made four payments to Cohen totaling $399,920.
“Following these payments, reports surfaced that Mr. Trump took a dinner meeting with the incoming CEO of Novartis before Mr. Trump’s speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in late January 2018,” the report notes.
Trump’s attorney Christopher William Dysard, from the firm Spears & Imes, declined to comment.
In addition to the First Republic payments, Avenatti also itemizes other “possible fraudulent and illegal financial transactions” involving Morgan Stanley, City National Bank, and Standard Chartered Bank.
Other payments Avenatti deemed “suspicious” came from AT&T, Korea Aerospace Industries, and disgraced Republican fundraiser Elliott Broidy.
Cohen’s attorney Todd Harrison, of the firm McDermott, Will & Emery, did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.