Lev Parnas, indicted Rudy Giuliani associate and co-founder of Fraud Guarantee, said through his attorney on Monday that he didn’t lie about his finances, which prosecutors in the Southern District of New York alleged last week. Parnas’s attorney also disputed that his client poses an “extreme flight risk,” saying that Parnas has “strong incentives” not to flee, including “speaking truth to Congress” in the impeachment inquiry.
Attorney Joseph A. Bondy said in an 8-page letter to the judge that Parnas “did not make materially false statements as to his finances,” and should not be jailed ahead of trial.
“As part of their efforts to remand Mr. Parnas pending trial, the prosecutors have alleged that Mr. Parnas gave materially and intentionally false statements regarding his finances. A review of the facts reveals that this is not the case,” Bondy said. “Mr. Parnas was first interviewed regarding his finances while jailed, without the benefit of any records or the ability to do more than estimate his assets and income derived from self- employment. He made statements to the best of his ability under those circumstances, and was not asked about his wife’s accounts or assets.”
The defense said that, yes, Parnas’s wife Svetlana Parnas produced two months of banking records to the government — showing “$1,000,000 in wire transfers entering Mrs. Parnas’ account in September 2019” — but that these funds were not Lev Parnas’s.
“The Government was thus aware of these funds having entered Mrs. Parnas’ account—which funds were not Lev Parnas’—prior to agreeing to the terms of Mr. Parnas’ bail, and no other questions were asked of her regarding these monies,” the letter continued. “Next, when Mr. Parnas’ financial statement—of his own assets—was e-mailed to the Government on October 30, 2019, counsel explicitly informed that Mr. Parnas required additional information that was in the Government’s possession, and from his accountant, to complete the statement accurately on questions that included his business, self-employment income, judgments and matters pending. He was also not requested to include any information pertaining his spouse’s income, accounts, or assets.”
“At no time did Mr. Parnas make a knowingly false statement, and the Government neither objected to nor responded with a single question regarding Mr. Parnas’ financial statement before filing their request to revoke bail,” Bondy said.
The defense further said that Parnas isn’t going anywhere and isn’t the flight risk he’s been made out to be.
“He has travelled to and from every court appearance, met with his counsel in New York on several occasions, passed through a number of international airports, and vocally expressed his interest in speaking truth to Congress,” the letter said. “Mr. Parnas has strong incentives to remain with his family, to continue to be cooperative with Congress, and to be actively involved in the defense of the instant case.”
Parnas, the Ukrainian-Floridian co-founder of the company Fraud Guarantee (a company Giuliani said he was paid $500,000 to advise), was arrested on Oct. 9, along with Igor Fruman. The arrests occurred at Dulles Airport in Virginia, from where they were attempting to leave the U.S. via a one-way ticket.
Prosecutors in the SDNY argued last week that Parnas ought to be considered an “extreme flight risk” because he “made materially misleading and false statements to Pretrial Services and the Government regarding his assets and income.” They also said Parnas has “proven adept” at receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars from “Ukrainian and Russian sources”:
In addition, Parnas’s close ties abroad include connections to Russian and Ukrainian nationals of nearly limitless means, including Foreign National-1 and a Ukrainian oligarch living in Vienna who is currently fighting extradition to this country. Parnas has proven adept at gaining access to foreign funding: in the last three years, Parnas received in excess of $1.5 million from Ukrainian and Russian sources. In sum, given Parnas’s significant, high-level connections to powerful and wealthy Ukrainians and at least one Russian national, he could quickly and easily flee the United States for Ukraine or another foreign country, and recoup the security posted to his bond. It is difficult to overstate the extreme flight risk that Parnas poses.
Parnas and Fruman were each hit with two counts of conspiracy, one count of making false statements, and one count of falsification of records. They were instrumental in Giuliani’s efforts to convince the Ukrainian government to commit publicly to investigations of Joe Biden, Hunter Biden and Burisma. The charges are related to a “scheme to funnel foreign money” to Republican candidates (alleged campaign finance violations).
David Correia, a co-founder of Fraud Guarantee, and Andrey Kukushkin were also ensnared in the criminal probe. Correia and Kukushkin were charged with one count of conspiracy.
All defendants have pleaded not guilty.
[Image via Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images]