A business associate of Donald Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen, has reportedly agreed to cooperate with investigators after pleading guilty to tax fraud.
Evgeny Freidman, who is known as the “Taxi King” of New York admitted the charge to prosecutors, who alleged he had failed to pay millions in taxes.
The terms of his guilty plea including an agreement to assist prosecutors, The New York Times reported.
Freidman and Mr Cohen have reportedly been partners in the taxi business for a number of years.
An analysis by the property website Real Deal earlier this year suggested that Mr Cohen owned at least 34 New York City taxi medallions – the permit which allows drivers to operate in the city. He disputed that figure.
The number of medallions given out in New York City is finite and that scarcity can make them valuable investments. In 2011 two medallions were sold for $1 million (£744,000) apiece, although the rise of ride-for-hires services like Uber has depressed their value somewhat.
Freidman is thought to have helped manage his fleet of cabs.
Attorneys for Mr Cohen and Mr Freidman could not be reached for comment.
But an agreement between Mr Freidman and prosecutors could could amplify the pressure on Mr Cohen, who is facing multiple legal proceedings, by handing more leverage to the team led by special counsel Robert Mueller which investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and potential ties to the Trump campaign.
Last month, Mr Cohen’s home and office were raided by FBI agents said to be acting on a referral made to prosecutors by Mr Mueller.
Agents seized documents related to Mr Cohen facilitating a $130,000 (£97,000) payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, who is suing Mr Cohen and the president to be released from a nondisclosure agreement that she has characterised as an effort to silence her from speaking out about an affair with Mr Trump. The president denies the affair.
But investigators were also seeking information about Mr Cohen’s involvement in the taxi business, according to multiple reports.
As Mr Mueller’s team has examined members of Mr Trump’s orbit, the president’s longtime attorney has emerged as a person of interest.
Multiple corporations that enlisted Mr Cohen for advice on navigating the Trump administration have said they were questioned by Mr Mueller’s team about the nature of their transactions with the veteran attorney.
A handful of former Trump aides have been charged as a result of Mr Mueller’s probe.
The president has consistently denied any wrongdoing and said there was no collusion between his campaign and the Kremlin.