Two Soviet-born friends and “clients” of President Donald Trump‘s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani were arrested late Wednesday on charges of violating campaign finance law. They are expected to appear in court on Thursday in Virginia to address those charges.
Those two men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, are well-known in their South Florida communities as award-winning pro-Israel philanthropists and real estate investors. They’re also both reportedly in extreme debt and subject to various default judgments and lawsuits to reclaim said debts–but have somehow found the money to heavily invest in the Republican Party and President Trump.
In May 2018, Parnas and Fruman made a $325,000 donation to pro-Trump super PAC America First Action, Inc. This donation was the subject of a complaint filed by nonpartisan government watchdog organization Campaign Legal Center (CLC) in July.
According to CLC, Parnas and Fruman failed to disclose “the true source of money at the time of making the contribution to America First Action” and also attributed “the source of the money” to “another person” who was not the source of the money.
Also named in the indictment are defendants David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin.
The 21-page indictment filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) closely tracks with the allegations leveled against Parnas and Fruman in the CLC’s original complaint–but also includes various additional allegations.
Wednesday’s court filing notes:
Parnas, Fruman, Correia and Kukushkin, the defendants, conspired to circumvent the federal laws against foreign influence by engaging in a scheme to funnel foreign money to candidates for federal and State office so that the defendants could by potential influence with candidates, campaigns, and the candidates’ governments. The defendants concealed the scheme from the candidates, campaigns, federal regulators, and the public by entering into secret agreements, laundering foreign money through bank accounts in the name of limited liability corporations, and through the use of straw donors (also known as “conduits” or “straw contributors”) who purported to make legal campaign contributions in their own names, rather than in the name of the true source of the funds.
A separate set of allegations is reserved solely for Parnas and Fruman.
Again the charging document:
Parnas and Fruman, the defendants, made additional contributions to federal candidates, joint fundraising committees, and independent expenditure committees that either (i) were intentionally funneled through, and made in the name of, a limited liability corporation to conceal that Parnas and Fruman were the true source of contributions and skirt the federal reporting requirements; or (ii) were reported in Parnas’s name but were funded by Fruman, which allowed Fruman to exceed limits on contributions to candidates or committees to whom he had previously contributed. The defendants further concealed this aspect of the conspiracy by, among other things, making and causing others to make false statements to the [Federal Election Commission].
Parnas and Fruman are both charged with four separate counts: two counts of conspiracy, one count of making false statements; and one count of falsification of records. Correia and Kukushkin are charged with one count of conspiracy.
The relationship between Parnas, Fruman and Giuliani has still yet to be entirely unraveled, however, the two foreign-born Floridians have pushed right-wing conspiracy theories to President Trump’s personal lawyer in attempts to discredit high-profile Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.
Giuliani previously referred to both Parnas and Fruman as his clients but recently said he shuttled them off to someone else in order to deal with their campaign finance problems.
“I referred them to a campaign finance expert who pretty much resolved it,” Giuliani said two weeks ago.
Former Trump lawyer John Dowd represents Fruman and Parnas. House Democrats wanted them to appear for a deposition today and tomorrow pursuant to the ongoing impeachment inquiry, but it appears there weren’t any plans of complying with that request.
They were reportedly arrested Wednesday night at Dulles Airport in Virginia before they boarded a flight leaving the country.
Read the full indictment below:
[image via via SAUL LOEB_AFP_Getty Images]
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