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Michael Cohen was paid at least $400,000 to arrange Trump meeting with Ukraine leader: Report

Dan Mangan
Michael Cohen was paid at least $400,000 to arrange Trump meeting with Ukraine leader: Report

Attorney Michael Cohen was secretly paid at least $400,000 by Ukrainians to set up talks between President Donald Trump and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko last June, the BBC reported Wednesday.

Soon after that meeting, Ukraine 's anti-corruption agency halted a probe of Paul Manafort , Trump's ex-campaign chairman, BBC News reported.

Manafort was indicted last fall by American prosecutors on criminal charges related to his work for a pro-Russia party in Ukraine.

The BBC's account comes on the heels of disclosures two weeks ago that Cohen had received previously unknown payments from drugmaker Novartis , AT&T , defense contractor Korea Aerospace Industries , and a U.S. financial management firm linked to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.

In all, Cohen was paid more than $2 million by those companies. The payments have drawn scrutiny from special counsel Robert Mueller , who is prosecuting Manafort.

The BBC's story on the Ukraine payment reported that sources said intermediaries acting on behalf of Poroshenko arranged the payment to Trump's private attorney for setting up the meeting with Trump at the White House.

The BBC said the payment to the New York lawyer was at least $400,000 for making the sit-down happen. One source told the news agency the payment was $600,000.

A high-ranking Ukrainian intelligence officer in Poroshenko's administration told the BBC that Cohen's help was enlisted "because Ukrainian's registered lobbyists" and the country's embassy in Washington could not arrange more than a "brief photo-op" with Trump.

Cohen did not register as a representative for Ukraine, as legally required, the report said.

Cohen denied receiving the payment, as did two Ukrainians alleged to have set up the backchannel arrangement, according to the BBC.

Stephen Ryan, a lawyer for Cohen, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.

A statement issued by Poroshenko's press office in a prepared statement called the BBC's claims a "blatant lie, slander and fake."

Cohen is under criminal investigation by federal prosecutors in New York for his business dealings, as well as for a $130,000 hush-money payment he made to porn star Stormy Daniels right before the 2016 presidential election.

Daniels has said the money was given to her to keep her quiet about an affair she claims to have had with Trump in 2006. Trump, whose spokesmen have denied such an affair, reimbursed Cohen for the payment to Daniels.