Federal prosecutors investigating Rudy Giuliani are looking into whether he and his business associates were attempting to use their political influence in Ukraine to land lucrative contracts with Naftogaz of Ukraine, the country’s state-owned oil and gas company.
Several people associated with the company have been contacted by prosecutors with the Southern District of New York who are also looking more closely at Giuliani’s ties to Global Energy Producers (GEP), the supposed natural gas company owned by recently indicted Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, according to a report from CNN.
Parnas and Fruman, both of whom are facing multiple counts of violating federal campaign finance laws, were allegedly attempting to oust Naftogaz’s chief executive, Andriy Kobolyev, and have him replaced with someone more willing to work with the Ukrainian-Floridian businessmen. This has previously been described as a “shakedown.” Kobolyev was widely seen as an anti-corruption reformer.
Parnas and Fruman’s efforts to replace top Naftogaz executives were reportedly taking place at the same time they were working with Giuliani to end the tenure of former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch and pressure the Ukrainian government to launch an investigation into Joe Biden and Hunter Biden.
At an energy conference in Houston last March, Parnas and Fruman asked one of Naftogaz’s top executives, Andrew Favorov, if he would be willing to replace Kobolyev in the event of his ouster, American energy consultant Dale Perry told CNN.
“[They] basically just flat out said to him, hey, to do the deals we want to do, we were not able to get through to your CEO, and we think that the business needs a new CEO,” Perry said. According to Perry, the two Ukrainian-Floridian businessmen also told Favorov that President Donald Trump would be replacing Yovanovitch in the near future with someone that would be friendlier to GEP’s business interests.
“What they said was, not that we can, but they are removing her, and that has already been agreed at the highest level of the US government,” Perry continued.
Prosecutors’ newfound interest in Naftogaz is being cited as a signal that the investigation of Giuliani goes beyond the campaign finance violations that led to Parnas and Fruman’s arrests.
Despite this, Giuliani’s attorney Robert Costello told CNN that Giuliani “had no interest in GEP at any time,” adding that any allegations of his involvement “is quite simply a false story and I am sure counsel for Mr. Fruman will say the same thing.”
“Someone is spending a lot of time and imagination dreaming up one false story after another,” Costello added.
[image via ABC screenshot]