Jamaica’s prime minster admitted for the first time this week that he authorized hiring Manatt, Phelps & Phillips to lobby U.S. officials in connection with an extradition dispute involving an alleged international drug kingpin that has strained relations between the two countries and resulted in an ethics complaint against the firm.

As reported by local news sources and The Associated Press, Prime Minister Bruce Golding told his country’s Parliament on Tuesday that he had approved retaining Manatt to help resolve the extradition standoff over Kingston businessman Christopher Coke, indicted by federal prosecutors in New York last August for trafficking in illegal narcotics and firearms.

Golding contended, however, that it was his ruling Jamaica Labour Party, not the Jamaican government, that hired and paid Manatt — despite the firm’s continuing insistence to the contrary.

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