Two Giuliani associates arrested for violating campaign finance rules

Rudolph W. Giuliani arrives at the Trump Tower for meetings on Nov. 17 2016 in New York

Rudolph W. Giuliani arrives at the Trump Tower for meetings on Nov. 17 2016 in New York

The charges relate to a $325,000 donation to a group supporting Trump's reelection.

The men, Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, were arrested Thursday and are scheduled to appear in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. No destination was disclosed.

The associates of Rudy Giuliani were arrested Wednesday on a four-count indictment that includes charges of conspiracy, making false statements to the Federal Election Commission and falsification of records.

Parnas and Fruman were central to Giuliani's efforts to get government officials in Ukraine to investigate business dealings by former United States vice president Joe Biden and his son Hunter in the war-torn former Soviet republic.

The indictments mark the first criminal charges related to the Ukraine controversy.

Both Parnas, who is Ukrainian born, and Fruman, who is originally from Belarus, were photographed with Trump, the president's son Donald Trump Jr and the vice-president, Mike Pence.

Giuliani has identified the two men as his clients, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Prosecutors say the two men shielded the foreign source of the funds by laundering through their US business. Their hand was forced by an attempt by Fruman and Parnas to leave the country.

Although the congressman is unnamed in the indictment, reporting all but confirms it is referring to former Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX).

The AP reported last week that Parnas and Fruman helped arrange a January meeting in NY between Ukraine's former top prosecutor, Yuri Lutsenko, and Giuliani, as well as other meetings with top government officials.

The pair were charged by a NY grand jury, arrested Wednesday night at Washington Dulles International Airport and were scheduled to appear in Virginia federal court Thursday afternoon. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

- Prosecutors also said Parnas and Fruman sought the help of a then-sitting congressman to get the US government to remove the then-ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch.

In June of 2018, they gave DeSantis $50,000 through a company called Global Energy Producers. At that point, the company had no income or significant assets, the indictment said. 20 million more people insured.

Lawmakers had been ready to issue Mr Parnas and Mr Fruman with legal summonses to compel them to show up.

The 21-page indictment (pdf) unsealed Thursday alleges that Parnas and Fruman "met with Congressman-1 and sought Congressman-1's assistance in causing the U.S. government to remove or recall the then-U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine". Trump's efforts to urge Ukraine's president to investigate the Biden family has prompted the House of Representatives to open an impeachment inquiry. The four are alleged in the indictment unsealed by NY federal prosecutors to have conducted a scheme beginning in March 2018 to evade campaign finance laws. His office had brought unrelated charges against the president's former legal "fixer" Michael Cohen past year.

The two Florida-based businessmen allegedly aided Giuliani in his efforts to encourage Ukrainian officials to investigate Biden and his son Hunter's business dealings, according to The Journal. Foreigners are not permitted to contribute to US elections. The alleged scheme included straw donations in which the duo masked the source of their political contributions by sending them through a newly formed DE corporation. Both are being represented by John Dowd, the former head of Trump's White House legal team.

A spokeswoman for America First Action says in a statement that the money won't be used for any goal and will remain in a separate account while the court cases play out.

"I can tell you that we scrupulously adhere to all laws and regulations", she said.

Parnas, a 47-year-old former stockbroker who was born in Ukraine, has told The Washington Post that Giuliani is an attorney for the two men but declined to say what services he is providing them.

The whistleblower complaint said - and Giuliani has acknowledged - that Trump and State Department officials enlisted him to work with the Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens.

Shortly after the announcement, the Democratic House committees leading the impeachment inquiry into President Trump announced they have subpoenaed Parnas and Furman.

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