Published: Fri, May 25, 2018
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Cohen's business partner to cooperate with prosecutors

Cohen's business partner to cooperate with prosecutors

Freidman was described as Cohen's "significant business partner" in a New York Times article Tuesday that broke the news that Freidman was cooperating with state and federal investigators in order to avoid the prospect of decades in jail for various tax fraud charges.

"This is a very hard day for myself and my family", Freidman said to New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, who read the statement out loud on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360".

Freidman's cooperation agreement could be a significant development for Cohen, whose personal business practices are under investigation by the USA attorney for the Southern District of NY.

The plea by Freidman, a taxi operator who was charged with failing to pay US$5 million (S$6.7 million) in taxes, could provide the government with a new source of information about Mr Cohen. After allegedly agreeing to work as a witness, he pleaded guilty to just one count of evading $50,000 in taxes and will serve five years of probation. In 2015, Freidman put more than $60 million of his assets into offshore trusts with a trustee in Moscow, the prosecutor said.

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Healy had noted the "serious and egregious nature of the charges", Freidman's exposure to prison time and ties outside NY. Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is leading the federal Russian Federation investigation, has also scrutinized Cohen's activities and business relationships.

The report comes amid growing pressure on Cohen, who worked for years as Trump's personal lawyer and "fixer", helping to smooth business deals and make new ones for Trump's business empire.

A Ukrainian lawmaker loyal to Poroshenko then drew on personal contacts with the Port of Washington Chabad, which is a Jewish charity in NY, and this, the BBC reports, led them to Cohen, who received hundreds of thousands of dollars. Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani later admitted that Trump had repaid Cohen.

Freidman, 46, was once the largest operator of taxi medallions, owning about 800 of the plates that allow taxis to operate in NY, and had helped bring Cohen into the taxi business. "Gene Freidman and I are not partners and have never been partners in this business or any other", he continued, adding the hashtag "#MediaWrongAgain".

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That likelihood may now be greater, with Freidman potentially sharing what he knows with federal prosecutors in NY and the special counsel.

Cohen is facing some legal troubles of his own.

"It is shameful", he wrote the New York Daily News in a text.

Last month, federal agents carried out search warrants at Mr. Cohen's home, his office and a hotel room where he was staying.

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It handed off the case to the state prosecutor's office, the BBC reports.

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