Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani told Fox News on Oct. 10 that the timing of the arrest of his two clients is suspect. Giuliani, who is also the personal attorney of President Donald Trump, said that he “will reveal relevant facts very, very shortly.”
Federal authorities arrested Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman at Dulles airport in Virginia before a planned flight to Vienna on the night of Oct. 9, sources familiar with the matter said. The pair were charged with conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws. Two other people were charged in the indictment, according to court documents.
Parnas and Fruman reportedly helped Giuliani in his efforts to investigate the origin of the Russia investigation. They are the subjects of an extensive report cited four times in the whistleblower complaint that triggered the Democrat-run presidential impeachment inquiry. The report, produced by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), a group funded by billionaire financier George Soros, details meetings and communications between Parnas, Fruman, and Ukrainian nationals.
The OCCRP published the report on July 22, four days after President Donald Trump ordered a hold be placed on military aid to Ukraine.
Giuliani, the personal attorney for President Donald Trump, had identified Parnas and Fruman as his clients on May 18.
John Dowd, the lawyer representing Parnas and Fruman, declined to comment on the charges. Dowd previously represented Trump in former special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Mueller concluded the probe finding insufficient evidence to establish that anyone colluded with Russia.
The indictment alleges two counts of criminal conspiracy. The first count alleges that Fruman and Parnas colluded to violate campaign finance laws by using a shell company to skirt individual contribution limits. The second alleges that Fruman, Parnas, David Correia, and Andrey Kukushkin concealed that the source of several political contributions was a Ukrainian national.
Parnas and Fruman were also each charged with one count of false statements and one of falsification of business records.
According to court documents, Parnas and Fruman donated $325,000 to an independent political expenditure committee and $15,000 to another committee in May 2018. The $325,000 donation went to America First Action, a pro-Trump political action committee, according to Reuters. The pair made both contributions through Global Energy Producers (GEP), which prosecutors allege is a shell company with no income or assets. After a Federal Election Commission complaint was filed against the defendants, the complaint claims they lied about the nature of GEP when they said that it “is a real business enterprise funded with substantial bona fide capital investment; it’s major is energy trading, not political activity.”
A separate charge alleges the four defendants colluded with a Ukrainian national as part of a business venture to create a recreational marijuana company. The defendants allegedly made a plan to contribute funds from the Ukrainian co-conspirator to politicians with the goal of securing recreational marijuana licenses in several states. The Ukrainian national allegedly wired $1 million to the United States for the cause. The defendants then allegedly used the foreign funds to make political contributions but concealed the origin of the funds.
Fruman, Parnas, Correia, and Kukushkin are U.S. citizens, according to the indictment.
None of the charges are related to the Ukrainian work by Parnas and Fruman allegedly on behalf of Giuliani. One of the allegations appears to refer to their efforts to lobby for the removal of U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch. The whistleblower’s complaint refers to Yovanovitch’s removal but makes no mention of Fruman, Parnas, or Giuliani in connection to the firing.