US accuses Russian oligarch of making illegal political donations
The 2019 arrests of Parnas and Fruman drew widespread attention because the pair had worked closely with then-President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani on efforts to fire the US ambassador. in Ukraine and trigger a Ukrainian investigation into Trump’s rival for the presidency, Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Giuliani has not been charged in the case, but in related proceedings last May, prosecutors obtained search warrants for electronic devices at Giuliani’s home and office.
Following a jury trial, Parnas and Kukushkin were convicted in the fall of the campaign finance charges. Fruman pleaded guilty in September to illegally donating foreign campaign money as part of an effort to secure licenses in the fast-growing marijuana industry.
Muraviev was frequently mentioned during Parnas and Kukushkin’s trial as the source of foreign money to launch their tickets into the booming cannabis and marijuana trade.
“There was an agreement to bring Andrey Muraviev’s wealth and corruption into American politics,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Hagan Scotten said during Parnas and Kukushkin’s trial in October. “It is clear as day that these defendants agreed to donate Muraviev’s money to American political campaigns.”
The indictment unsealed on Monday alleges that as part of the scheme, Muraviev wired $1 million through multiple bank accounts so that Fruman and Parnas could donate to candidates they believed could help them get these licenses. The money was used for political donations in Florida, Nevada and Texas, and was planned to be used to fund campaigns in New Jersey and New York, prosecutors say.
“To hide the fact that MURAVIEV was the real donor of the money, the funds were sent to a corporate bank account controlled by FRUMAN’s brother, and then the donations were made in the name of FRUMAN and PARNAS,” says the Department of Justice press release.
Parnas also faces a fraud charge in connection with his fundraising for a company called Fraud Guarantee, which prosecutors say was itself fraudulent. Parnas previously denied knowledge of fraudulent solicitations, and the judge split the charge at the campaign finance trial. Parnas is now expected to change his plea from not guilty to guilty in the coming days.