Alex van der Zwaan
Alex van der Zwaan
|Born||September 1984 (age 34)|
|Education||King’s College London (LLB)|
BPP University (LPC)
|Employer||Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom (2007–2017)|
|Criminal charge||Making false statements|
|Criminal status||Served sentence at FCI Allenwood Low, #35255-016; subsequently deported|
Eva Khan (m. 2017)
|Relatives||German Khan (father-in-law)|
Alex Rolf van der Zwaan (Dutch: [ˈaːlɛks fɑn dɛr ˈzʋaːn] (listen); born September 1984) is a Belgian-born Dutch attorney formerly with the London branch of New York-based international law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
In February 2018, Van der Zwaan was charged with lying to the FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigators of Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections about his interactions with political consultant and lobbyist Rick Gates and Konstantin Kilimnik, a Ukrainian-based long-term associate of Paul Manafort. On February 20, 2018, he pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to investigators. On April 3, 2018, he was sentenced to 30 days in prison and fined $20,000. After serving a 30-day sentence at FCI Allenwood, in Pennsylvania, Van der Zwaan was deported to the Netherlands.
Education and career
Van der Zwaan, a Dutch citizen, was born in Brussels, Belgium, in 1984. He was educated in London, receiving his LL.B. at King’s College London in 2006, and completing his Legal Practice Course at BPP Law School in 2007. He was admitted to practice law as a solicitor in England and Wales in September 2009.
He began working at the London office of the international law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in 2007. At the firm, he worked on complex matters, including the freezing of assets of the rich, a legal tactic attempted by companies and billionaires in disputes with business partners. He repeatedly assisted Ukrainian oligarch Gennadiy Bogolyubov, whose assets were at risk of being frozen by the London High Court several times.
His work at the firm also included representing corporations, individuals and sovereign entities in various matters, including high-value and complex commercial litigation and arbitration, and government agency investigations. He assisted Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich's businesses in relation to mining assets in Ukraine.
Work on Skadden Arps' Ukrainian report, and subsequent charges
Van der Zwaan, who speaks Russian, was one of the eight attorneys who worked on Skadden Arps's 2012 report, commissioned by the government of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych via Paul Manafort, that defended the prosecution, conviction and imprisonment of Yanukovych's rival, the country's former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko. Van der Zwaan traveled to Ukraine to work on the report, and served as rule-of-law consultant to the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine. Former United States ambassador to Ukraine John E. Herbst said in a 2017 interview that Skadden Arps "should have been ashamed" of the report, calling it "a nasty piece of work".
Special Counsel investigation prosecutor Andrew Weissmann stated in February 2018 that, as part of Manafort's and Rick Gates's lobbying effort to improve Yanukovych's reputation in the United States, Van der Zwaan took an advance copy of the report in late July or early August 2012, without authorization, and provided it to a public-relations firm working for the Ukrainian Ministry of Justice—with one aim being to get the report published in The New York Times—and in September 2012 provided Gates with talking points about the report. Prosecutors also said Van der Zwaan deleted emails sought by the special counsel's office—such as emails between him and Manafort associate "Person A", including one requesting that Van der Zwaan use encrypted communications and one from September 2016—rather than turning them over to Skadden Arps, which was gathering documents for the special counsel.
In February 2018 Van der Zwaan was accused of having lied during an interview with special counsel prosecutors and FBI agents on November 3, 2017. He was charged with having lied about the timing and nature of his last communications with Gates and an unidentified Ukrainian-based long-term associate of Manafort described as "Person A", later identified by the New York Times as Konstantin Kilimnik. In the interview Van der Zwaan had said that his last communication with Gates was an innocuous text in mid-August 2016 and that his last contact with Person A was a 2014 discussion of Person A's family; prosecutors determined instead that he had discussed the 2012 Skadden Arps report with Gates and Person A in September 2016 during phone calls that he surreptitiously recorded. Prosecutor Weissmann stated that the charges against Van der Zwaan are part of an investigation into "FARA violations by Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and others". Van der Zwaan acknowledged to special counsel investigators in an interview that Gates had told him of Person A's ties to the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU), a Russian military intelligence agency.
On February 20, 2018, Van der Zwaan pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to investigators. In his plea he also admitted his email deletions, and that he had lied when he had told investigators that he had only a "passive role in the rollout of the report". The guilty plea did not include an agreement to cooperate with the Mueller investigation.
Also on February 20, 2018, Skadden Arps released a statement that Van der Zwaan had been fired from the law firm in 2017.
On March 27, 2018, Robert Mueller's office asked a judge to consider jail time for Van der Zwaan. His sentencing hearing was held on April 3, 2018, and he was sentenced to 30 days in prison followed by two months of supervised release, and fined $20,000. Judge Amy Berman Jackson stated that Van der Zwaan, whose pregnant wife was due to give birth in August, could have his passport back after his 30-day sentence, at which point he could self-deport back to Europe if Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) allowed it.
As of 2018[update], Van der Zwaan lives in London. In June 2017 he married Eva Khan, daughter of the Russian billionaire German Khan, co-founder and co-owner of Alfa Group. German Khan is suing BuzzFeed and the private investigation firm Fusion GPS over BuzzFeed's publication of the Trump–Russia dossier containing information about Trump's ties to Russia. Van der Zwaan has Russian roots and has worked with a number of Russian oligarchs. In addition to Dutch, he speaks fluent English, Russian, and French.
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- Media related to Alex van der Zwaan at Wikimedia Commons