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U.S. charges Russian oligarch with making illegal political donations

The arrests of Parnas and Fruman in 2019 drew widespread attention because the two men had been working closely with then-President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani on efforts to remove the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine and to spark 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 a related proceeding last May prosecutors did obtain search warrants for electronic devices at Giuliani’s home and office.
Following a jury trial, Parnas and Kukushkin were convicted in the fall on the campaign-finance related charges. Fruman pleaded guilty in September to illegally donating foreign cash for campaigns as part of an effort to win licenses in the fast-growing marijuana industry.
Muraviev was mentioned frequently during the trial of Parnas and Kukushkin, as the source of the foreign money aimed at launching their tickets into the booming cannabis and marijuana business.
“There was an agreement to bring Andrey Muraviev’s wealth and corruption into American politics,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Hagan Scotten said at the trial of Parnas and Kukushkin in October. “It is plain as day that these defendants agreed to donate Muraviev’s money to U.S. political campaigns.”
The indictment unsealed Monday alleges that as part of this plan, Muraviev wired $1 million through multiple bank accounts so that Fruman and Parnas could donate to candidates they felt could help them obtain these licenses. The money was used for political donations in Florida, Nevada and Texas, and there were plans to use it to fund campaigns in New Jersey and New York, prosecutors alleged.

“To obscure the fact that MURAVIEV was the true donor of the money, the funds were sent to a business bank account controlled by FRUMAN’s brother, and then the donations were made in FRUMAN’s and PARNAS’s names,” the Justice Department news release said.
Parnas is also facing a fraud charge in connection with his fundraising for a company called Fraud Guarantee, which prosecutors say was itself fraudulent. Parnas previously denied any knowledge of fraudulent solicitations, and the judge split the charge off in the campaign finance trial. Parnas is now expected to change his not-guilty plea to guilty in the coming days.

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