Michael Cohen. (Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg)

Cohen's Hush Money Account Got Funds From Korean Military Firm

(Bloomberg) -- The controversy over money funneled to an entity that President Donald Trump’s lawyer used to pay porn actress Stephanie Clifford has reached Asian shores, with a South Korean company identified among those whose transactions flowed through Michael Cohen’s account.

Korea Aerospace Industries Ltd., which is seeking to sell its planes in the U.S., hired Cohen’s entity for advice on local accounting standards, a spokesman for the South Korean company said Wednesday. Clifford’s attorney, Michael Avenatti, has identified Korea Aerospace along with AT&T Inc. and Novartis AG as companies that transferred money into an account at First Republic Bank that Cohen opened in October 2016. The actress is known professionally as Stormy Daniels.

In a document made public online, Avenatti also revealed that a company tied to a Russian oligarch sent $500,000 last year to an entity that Cohen used to make payments to Clifford. The records show $4.3 million in suspicious transactions that flowed through the Cohen company, including the deposits from AT&T and Novartis, Avenatti said.

Korea Aerospace sent a single payment of $150,000 when the work was completed, the company’s spokesman confirmed, adding the contract with Cohen’s entity was legal.

Based in South Korea’s Sacheon, the company provides aircraft components to Boeing Co. and Airbus SE. It is the main supplier of wing components for the European aircraft manufacturer’s A320. The company also builds the T-50 advanced trainer jet, developed with Lockheed Martin Corp., and has sold it to South Korea’s air force as well as to the Philippines and Indonesia. It also makes turbo-prop trainer aircraft and helicopters.

The South Korean company is jointly bidding with Lockheed Martin to sell its T-50A jet in the $16 billion U.S. trainer jet program, competing against the likes of Boeing, which is working with Saab AB.

Lockheed Martin spokesman Bill Phelps said in a statement that the Bethesda, Maryland-based defense contractor has no knowledge of a business relationship between Korea Aerospace and Cohen, and is not aware of any connection it may have to the potential U.S. Air Force order for trainer jets.

Shares of Korea Aerospace fell as much as 2.1 percent on Wednesday in Seoul.

Combining Units

Korea Aerospace was set up in 1999 by combining the aerospace units of conglomerates Samsung, Hyundai and the now defunct Daewoo as part of the government’s efforts to help the economy rebuild after the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis. State-owned Export-Import Bank of Korea is the biggest shareholder. The bank declined to comment on the Cohen payment.

A 2012 attempt to sell a stake in the company failed because of a shortage of offers. Stakeholders including Hyundai Motor Co.’s Hyundai Rotem Co. and Doosan Group later sold their holdings in the company.

Other firms that transferred funds to Cohen’s firm, according to Avenatti’s summary, include AT&T, which made four payments of $50,000 apiece, in late 2017 and early 2018. Novartis Investments SARL, a subsidiary of pharmaceutical maker Novartis AG, according to Avenatti, made four payments of $99,980 into the account in late 2017 and early 2018.

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