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Trump Lawyer Kasowitz Bolsters Defense of Wealthy Ukrainian

Greg Farrell

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer has several new clients in a money-laundering lawsuit, all co-defendants of the Ukrainian billionaire who launched the career of that country’s recently elected president, Volodymyr Zelinskiy.

Marc Kasowitz, a New York lawyer who has frequently worked for Trump over the years and helped him coordinate his response to the U.S. special counsel’s Russia investigation, recently signed on to defend U.S.-based business partners of Igor Kolomoisky, according to a court filing in Delaware.

Kasowitz is representing Kolomoisky’s co-defendants against civil claims in the U.S. that they helped launder hundreds of millions of dollars stolen from a Ukrainian bank by buying office buildings and businesses in the U.S.

Kolomoisky is also under investigation by the FBI and federal prosecutors.

The Department of Justice declined to comment.

In Ukraine, Kolomoisky controlled the TV network that broadcast a hit comedy show starring Zelinskiy, helping the comedian boost his name recognition and popularity in the years leading up to April’s election. From 2006 to 2016, Kolomoisky was part owner of PrivatBank, one of Ukraine’s biggest lenders. The bank was nationalized in December 2016 after reports of corruption tied to Kolomoisky and other owners.

Kasowitz’s arrival in the case adds an intriguing wrinkle, considering his close relationship to Trump and the congressional impeachment inquiry’s focus on Trump’s desire to get Zelinskiy to start criminal investigations that could benefit his re-election campaign.

Kasowitz is representing Uriel Laber, Mordechai Korf and Chaim Schochet, all of whom reside in Miami. According to the lawsuit, they helped Kolomoisky and another Ukrainian launder hundreds of millions of dollars in the U.S. by acquiring businesses and other assets, including office buildings in Cleveland, Ohio.

Kolomoisky has been accused by Ukrainian regulators of stealing more than $5 billion from the lender. He denies the allegations. With the bank’s seizure in 2016, Kolomoisky left the country, living in Switzerland and then Israel. In May, following Zelenskiy’s election, Kolomoisky returned to Ukraine.

The case is Joint Stock Company Commercial Bank PrivatBank v. Kolomoisky, 2019-0377, Delaware’s Chancery Court.

(Previous versions corrected identity of Kasowitz clients, amount of money spent on office buildings and businesses in the U.S. and spelling of Ukrainian president’s name)

(Updates with allegations in Ukraine against Kolomoisky)

To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Farrell in New York at gregfarrell@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jeffrey D Grocott at jgrocott2@bloomberg.net, David S. Joachim, David Glovin

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