Russian company indicted by Mueller hires Washington lawyers

(Reuters) - A Russian company charged with helping fund a Russian propaganda operation that allegedly tampered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election has retained two Washington lawyers to handle its defense, according to court filings on Wednesday.

The company, Concord Management and Consulting LLC, will be represented by Eric Dubelier and Katherine Seikaly of the law firm Reed Smith, the filings say. Dubelier and Seikaly both specialize in handling government investigations.

Concord was indicted in February along with two other Russian companies and 13 Russians by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for an alleged plot to sow discord in the U.S. political system by using false personas to push divisive messages over social media, staging political rallies and other means.

Legal experts have said that it is unlikely the individuals charged would be apprehended as long as they stayed outside the United States. It is unclear what legal consequences Concord or other two companies could face outside the United States.

Concord is controlled by Russian businessman Evgeny Prigozhin, who was one of those charged, accused of overseeing a criminal conspiracy aimed at supporting Republican candidate Donald Trump and disparaging Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign, according to the indictment.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Moscow meddled in the 2016 election. Mueller is investigating the Russian interference, and whether there was any collusion with Moscow by members of Trump’s campaign.

The Kremlin, which has repeatedly denied the allegations of meddling, has said the charges contain zero proof of Russian state involvement. President Trump has denied allegations of wrongdoing, including colluding with Russia.

Prigozhin, nicknamed “Putin’s cook” because of his catering business that has organized banquets for Russian President Vladimir Putin and other political figures, has been quoted by the RIA news agency as saying he was unfazed by the indictment.

Dubelier and Seikaly did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Dubelier, a federal prosecutor in the District of Columbia in the 1990’s, now works primarily with clients in the health care, financial services and defense industries, according to his biography on the Reed Smith website.

He has litigated civil and criminal trials relating to foreign bribery, economic espionage and obstruction of justice, the biography says.

Seikaly focuses on government investigations and helping clients deal with regulatory compliance, and often handles issues related to electronic discovery, her biography says.

Reporting by Nathan Layne in Washington; Editing by Frances Kerry