US ambassador to Budapest denies providing legal services to Russian oligarchs

U.S. Ambassador to Budapest David Pressman. (MTI/Zoltán Máthé)
By Dénes Albert
3 Min Read

U.S. Ambassador to Hungary David Pressman has denied ever providing legal services for Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov.

Responding to a recent report by the Magyar Nemzet newspaper, Pressman told opposition news outlet Telex that in his previous job as a lawyer, he never worked for the pro-Putin businessman.

“The government and their media propagandists may find it difficult to understand this, because their own career choices may have been different from mine, but I have never worked for a Russian oligarch, and I have never received a single ruble from a Russian oligarch,” Pressman wrote in reply to a question by Telex.

Later, a press officer at the U.S. embassy in Budapest confirmed to the Mandiner newspaper that Pressman had not been involved in any work during his career “that concerned Mikhail Prokhorov or the sanctions against him.”

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According to the Hungarian newspaper Magyar Nemzet, Pressman revealed in an asset declaration made upon his appointment as ambassador in Budapest that he had received funds from Ellen Pinchuk, an associate of Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov who the newspaper claimed manages Prokhorov’s U.S. commercial affairs.

Telex contacted Pressman’s previous employer, the U.S.-based law firm Jenner & Block.

Lee Wolosky, co-director of Jenner & Block’s litigation department, told the news outlet: “Our firm’s work with Ellen Pinchuk was exclusively a family law matter involving no one other than the client’s immediate family members. We have never worked for Mikhail Prokhorov on any case, sanctions-related or otherwise.”

Pressman reportedly received the funds during his time as a lawyer for the U.S. law firm Jenner & Block, whom he joined as a partner back in 2020.

“At Jenner & Block, Ambassador Pressman will continue to represent clients in a range of high-stakes commercial crises that pose existential threats to their businesses, brands, or positions,” read a press release by the firm at the time of his appointment.

“Mr. Pressman’s involvement in the Russian contract, despite his consistent criticisms of Hungary, brought the U.S. diplomat significant financial gains, amassing nearly $2 million in less than two years during his tenure at Jenner & Block,” reported Magyar Nemzet.

The Hungarian newspaper described Pressman’s previous business dealings as “a striking instance of double standards,” given his unyielding criticism of the Hungarian government’s desire to retain a commercial relationship with Moscow despite the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

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