Luke Cohen | Reuters
NEW YORK – Lev Parnas, a former partner of former Donald Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, used $ 100,000 from a wealthy Russian businessman to make illegal donations to U.S. politicians, a federal prosecutor said Wednesday. Parnas used the funds to “grease the wheels” to help businessman Andrei Muravyov obtain licenses to operate legal cannabis companies in the United States, US Attorney Assistant Aline Floodr said in her first argument in Parnassus’s trial on campaign finance allegations. the laws.
“They wanted these politicians to help their business,” Floodre said before a jury in a federal court in Manhattan, referring to Parnas and his co-accused Andrei Kukushkin.
“This is what the secret foreign money that infiltrates American elections looks like,” she said.
The trial, overseen by U.S. District Judge J. Paul Otken, has drawn attention over Parnas’s ties to Giuliani, a staunch supporter of Trump’s false claims that the former Republican president lost the 2020 election to Democrat Joe Biden due to widespread electoral fraud. … …
Parnas, who was born in Ukraine, said he worked closely with Giuliani to investigate the case of Biden’s son Hunter, who had done business in Ukraine in the past.
Parnas’ role was highlighted when Trump was impeached in 2019 by the U.S. House of Representatives for abusing his office’s powers to investigate political rivals. Subsequently, the Senate acquitted Trump in court.
Parnassus’s trial could shed light on how the campaign is funded behind the scenes. Flodr also said Parnas was hiding an illegal $ 325,000 donation to Trump’s failed 2020 re-election bid, which is a separate statement from the charges related to the marijuana business.
Kukushkin and Parnas pleaded not guilty. Another associate of Giuliani, Igor Fruman, has already pleaded guilty to extorting money from a foreigner.
In his opening remarks, Parnas’ attorney Joseph Bondi said that Muravyov’s money was used not for donations, but for other purposes.
“There was no plan to take this money from a foreign citizen and break electoral law,” Bondi said, adding that the $ 325,000 donation came from a legitimate business and not from a “shell company,” as Floodre claimed.
Bondi said Parnas’ interest in the marijuana venture waned as he grew closer to Giuliani, whom Bondi described as “not a marijuana lover.”
Kukushkin’s lawyer Gerald Lefkur said that his client, an associate of Muravyov, had nothing to do with campaign donations.
Wesley Duncan, a Republican who ran unsuccessfully for Nevada’s attorney general in 2018, testified that he requested a $ 10,000 donation from Parnas, but ended up receiving funds from Fruman.
Duncan said his campaign returned the funds to Fruman because he suspected they were illegal. He did not say why he had suspicions about the origin of the money.
The Parnas case is separate from the federal investigation into Giuliani’s transactions in Ukraine, including whether the former mayor of New York violated lobbying laws while serving as Trump’s lawyer.
Giuliani was not charged with any crimes and denied wrongdoing. His lawyer said the Parnas case and the lobbying investigation were not relevant. (Reporting by Luke Cohen; editing by Ross Colvin and Jonathan Oatis)