Lobbying powerhouse Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom will pay $4.6M to settle a civil suit, alleging that it failed to register as a foreign agent for Ukraine work that was headed by Paul Manafort, president Trump's former campaign manager.
According to the agreement, Skadden contributed to "a public relations campaign directed at select members of the US media," without filing under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
Following multiple inquiries from the Justice Dept.'s FARA unit, a "partner then at Skadden made false and misleading statements to the FARA unit," which led it to believe that is was not obligated to file, according to the Justice Dept.'s Jan. 17 statement.
The Justice Dept. ultimately determined that Skadden was required to register in 2012 and under the settlement agreement has agreed to do so retroactively.
“Law firms should handle inquiries from the federal government the same way they would counsel their clients to: with appropriate due diligence to ensure the honesty of their response,” said Assistant Attorney General John Demers. “Skadden’s failure to do so, and reliance on only the representations of the lead partner on the matter, hid from the public that its report was part of a Ukrainian foreign influence campaign."
According to the Agreement, Ukraine Ministry of Justice, with the assistance of Manafort, hired Skadden to write a report on the evidence and procedures used during the 2011 prosecution and trial of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and to address various questions regarding its fairness.
The $4.6 million represents the fees/expenses that Skadden got from Ukraine.
The agreement calls for Skadden 'to ensure that it has formal, robust procedures for responding to inquiries concerning its conduct from any federal government entity and ensuring FARA compliance as to its engagements on behalf of foreign clients."