One of New York City mayor Eric Adams's (D.) top advisers made his living as a consultant to Russian oligarchs with close ties to President Vladimir Putin, Politico reported Wednesday.
New York commissioner of international affairs Ed Mermelstein, who oversees the city's dealings with the United Nations, worked for decades as a foreign investment attorney and real estate consultant for plutocrats.
Mermelstein, also an Adams campaign donor, described himself on his website as "Russian-American." But after Politico on Tuesday reached out for comment following Putin's bloodthirsty invasion of Ukraine, Mermelstein changed the description to "Ukrainian-born."
Mermelstein said in a 2015 article that he was working for Russian clients who seek "to protect their wealth from both volatility in their home countries and potential government sanctions." He was also the director of a foundation owned by Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg, who has close ties to the Kremlin. The Trump administration froze $1.5 billion of Vekselberg's assets in 2018.
The revelations about Mermelstein come as officials, including Manhattan borough president Mark Levine (D.), call for the federal government to seize ritzy apartments owned by Putin associates.
Adams has not joined those calls. He has also said that Russians in New York City should not be blamed for Putin's actions.