Trump lawyer Cohen’s business partner to co-operate with prosecutors, say sources

The 'New York Times' says Evgeny Freidman, a Russian immigrant known as the ‘Taxi King’, will avoid jail time through a plea deal

FILE - In this Sept. 19, 2017, file photo, Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's personal attorney, steps out of a cab during his arrival on Capitol Hill in Washington. Cohen's longtime business partner Evgeny Freidman pleaded guilty, Tuesday, May 22, 2018, to tax fraud in a deal that requires him to cooperate in any ongoing investigations. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

A business partner of Michael Cohen, United States president Donald Trump's personal lawyer, has agreed to co-operate with prosecutors in investigations, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

Evgeny Freidman, a Russian immigrant known as the ‘Taxi King’, will avoid jail time and will assist government prosecutors in state or federal investigations, the newspaper said, citing a person briefed on the matter.

The New York State Attorney General’s Office said Mr Freidman had pleaded guilty to a criminal charge on Tuesday in an Albany, New York, courtroom, but made no mention of whether he was co-operating with prosecutors.

Mr Freidman has been Mr Cohen's partner in the taxi business for years, even after New York City regulators barred him last year from continuing to manage taxi medallions, the New York Times said.

When asked by Reuters about the report, Mr Freidman declined in a text message to answer any questions about co-operating with prosecutors or the terms of his agreement.

“This is me taking responsibility for my actions! ... Michael is a dear dear personal friend and a passive client! That’s it! ...I hate that I have been grouped in this runaway train that I am not a part of!” Mr Freidman said by text.

His lawyer, Patrick Egan, declined to comment on the Times report.

Mr Freidman had been accused of failing to pay more than US$5 million (Dh18.37m) in taxes and five other criminal counts, each carrying maximum prison sentences of up to 25 years. In pleading guilty to a single count of criminal tax fraud, he will be sentenced to five years’ probation, the attorney general’s office said.

A spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters, neither did Mr Cohen.

Federal prosecutors in New York are investigating Mr Cohen for possible bank and tax fraud, campaign law violations and perhaps other matters related to Mr Trump's presidential campaign, a source said.

The investigation into Mr Cohen arose in part from special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into possible collusion between the Trump 2016 presidential campaign and Russia, something that Mr Trump has repeatedly denied.