A Dutch attorney with ties to the Trump campaign is the first person to be sentenced to prison in the Mueller probe. After pleading guilty to lying to federal investigators and failing to turn over emails to the special counsel’s office, Alex Van Der Zwaan was sentenced to 30 days in prison on Tuesday and ordered to pay a $20,000 fine.
A former associate in the London office of the New York-based law firm, Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, Van Der Zwaan was hired by Rick Gates and Paul Manafort years ago to draft a report justifying the incarceration of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych’s political rival, Yulia Tymoshenko. During a voluntary interview with the special counsel’s office, Van Der Zwaan lied to the investigators about his last conversation with Gates, in mid-August 2016, and was accused of secretly recording a September 2016 call with an unidentified person and destroying a follow-up email that same month.
After his passport was confiscated, Van Der Zwaan returned to the special counsel’s office in December to confess to the lies and to give Mueller’s team access to his various laptops and cell phones. In February, he pled guilty to lying to federal investigators and concealing the emails from the special counsel.
On Tuesday, Van Der Zwaan was sentenced to 30 days in prison and ordered to pay a $20,000 fine.
“This is not something that happened to him. This is something he did,” Judge Amy Berman Jackson stated during the sentencing on Tuesday. “He put his personal interest ahead of the interest of justice.”
“What I did was wrong,” Van Der Zwaan admitted while reading from a sheet of paper. “I apologize to the court for my conduct. I apologize to my wife and family.”
Last year, Van Der Zwaan married the daughter of a Ukrainian-Russian energy oligarch, German Khan, who Forbes ranks 138th on its list of billionaires, with a net worth of $9.3 billion. Khan is suing BuzzFeed and the private investigation firm Fusion GPS over BuzzFeed’s publication of Christopher Steele’s notorious dossier, which contains a mix of accurate, inaccurate, and unverified claims linking President Donald Trump to Russia. The dossier notes that Khan is a principal owner of Alfa Bank, which allegedly has close ties to Vladimir Putin and assisted Russia’s 2016 election influence scheme against the U.S.
In October 2017, Gates and Manafort were indicted on 12 counts, including money laundering, acting as unregistered agents of the Ukrainian government, and tax fraud. In February, Mueller’s office indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies for interfering in the 2016 presidential election.