(Reuters) – Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two foreign-born businessmen associated with U.S. President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, were arrested on federal charges they conspired to funnel foreign money to U.S. political candidates, prosecutors said on Thursday.
FILE PHOTO: Rudy Giuliani is seen ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump introducing his Supreme Court nominee in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., July 9, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis
Giuliani, who did not return a request for comment, previously said he worked with Parnas and Fruman to get Ukrainian officials to investigate Democratic presidential contender Joe Biden, Trump’s political rival.
The following lays out some of the allegations against Parnas and Fruman.
– Federal prosecutors in Manhattan say that beginning in 2018, Parnas and Fruman made illegal donations to political candidates. The donations included a $325,000 contribution to America First Action, a political action committee that supports pro-Trump political candidates, according to an indictment.
John Dowd, a lawyer for Parnas and Fruman, declined to comment. Jay Sekulow, a lawyer for the president, told Reuters that “neither the president nor the campaign was aware” of the defendants’ alleged scheme.
– Parnas and Fruman conspired to circumvent federal law by funneling money to political candidates to advance their own financial interests and the political interests of Ukrainian officials, the indictment says.
– In disclosure forms submitted to the U.S. Federal Election Commission, Parnas and Fruman listed the $325,000 contribution to the pro-Trump group as coming from a business called Global Energy Producers (GEP). Prosecutors say GEP was a shell company with “no real business.”
– Parnas and Fruman deliberately made the contributions in GEP’s name to “hide from creditors that they had access to funding, and to conceal from the public and the FEC their involvement in making these contributions,” according to the indictment.
– Prosecutors said Parnas and Fruman sought the help of a then-sitting congressman to get the U.S. government to remove the then-ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch. The indictment says the efforts were conducted in part at the request of at least one or more Ukrainian government officials.
– Parnas and Fruman also conspired to funnel donations to state and federal candidates to benefit a planned marijuana business funded by an unnamed Russian businessman. A co-conspirator said they should hide the foreign national’s role in the business because of “his Russian roots and current political paranoia about it,” according to the indictment.
– Parnas and Fruman were arrested on Wednesday at an airport outside Washington carrying one-way tickets to Vienna.
– A federal magistrate judge in Virginia said Fruman and Parnas could be released and kept in home detention once they each pay a $1 million bond.
– Parnas and Fruman are accused of criminal violations of laws that promote transparency in U.S. elections, as well as conspiracy to defraud the United States.
Reporting by Jan Wolfe; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Peter Cooney