(CNN) – His name is Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire many call an oligarch. Typical of Russian billionaires, he is well-known to Russian President Vladamir Putin, and has been given awards by the government.
There is no indication Donald Trump has ever met Oleg Deripaska, but it turns out, the two men do have connections. CNN has learned Donald Trump and Oleg Deripaska’s company have, over the years, shared the same attorney.
His name is Marc Kasowitz and on his website, Kasowitz prominently lists President Donald Trump as a client, who he’s represented in a quote “wide range of litigation matters for over 15 years.” Oleg Deripaska isn’t on Kasowitz’ list of clients, but court records show Kasowitz is the attorney in a federal lawsuit where he represents an investment vehicle wholly owned by Deripaska.
Just an attorney with two billionaire clients? Perhaps, but consider this: Oleg Deripaska has another shoe string connection to Donald Trump and it’s tied to Donald Trump’s former campaign chief Paul Manafort.
Manafort and Deripaska are former business partners. The Republican strategist who ran Trump’s campaign for five months, also started several offshore companies with Deripaska.
Legal filings show the Russian Billionaire entrusted nearly $19 million to Manafort in 2008, the money to be invested in a Ukrainian telecom business, it was part of a major deal to make “significant long term capital” but the investment and relationship fell apart.
For several years, Deripaska tried to contact Manafort and get answers about the missing money. Court papers filed in 2014, show that Deripaska’s attorneys had not been able to reach Manafort, and determined Paul Manafort had “simply disappeared.”
Then, Paul Manafort began running Donald Trump’s campaign in 2016, and Deripaska’s legal claims against him appears to have gone away.
Manafort’s spokesman tells CNN, “Mr. Manafort believes the matter is dormant and will not be pursued further.”
Ethics expert and CNN contributor Larry noble, says while there may be nothing inherently wrong with Kasowitz representing both Trump and Deripaska in unrelated matters. “It raises questions, and it raises them just in the larger context of what’s been going on with Manafort. Every time you see something like this, you wonder whether this is perfectly legitimate, it’s just an isolated issue where you have a lawyer who is involved representing various clients or whether or not it fits into just a larger, a larger narrative of involvement with Russia.”
Paul Manafort has confirmed to CNN he did work for Oleg Deripaska, but rejects the allegation that he was pushing the political interests of Vladmair Putin.
That denial came after the Associated Press reported on a 2005 memo. That memo, according to the AP, was from Manafort to Deripaska, pitching a business plan, that could “greatly benefit the Putin government” and “influence politics, business dealings and news coverage inside the United States”
CNN has been unable to verify the memo, and Oleg Deripaska has since taken out advertisements in American newspapers to “resolutely deny this malicious assertion and lie,” adding “context often creates an illusion of ‘might be true’ information though it is based on complete and full lies.”
As for the fact Donald Trump and Oleg Deripaska share the same attorney as well, there is no proof of anything nefarious but in the greater context of Russian investigations, it is at the very least curious.
Curious or just a coincidence? Do we know how it ended up that Donald Trump and this Russian billionaire just happened to have the same attorney?
The White House and Oleg Deripaska did not respond at all, but the attorney, Marc Kasowitz, did. His firm said they don’t represent Deripaska, never have. They represent his company, Veleron. In a statement they said, “Our representation of Veleron did not emanate from and has nothing to do with our representation of any Trump personnel or entities, and we have never relayed information or facilitated communication between Mr. Deripaska and his representatives and President Trump and his representatives.”